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Possession with intent to Distribute Drugs:  FAQ

Possession with intent to distribute drugs is perhaps the most commonly litigated offense in the New Jersey criminal courts.  The consequences are severe for convictions.  If there is a defense, then Howes & Howes can find it.  The following are questions most frequently asked about possession with intent.

1.  How can the prosecutor prove “intent to distribute”?

Unless the suspect gives a statement to the police, there is no direct evidence that the suspect intended to do with the alleged drugs.  Thus, the State will have to rely on circumstantial evidence, aided by expert testimony to establish “intent to distribute”.

2.  What circumstantial evidence does the state use?

The State will rely on factors such as:  (1) the amount of the drugs seized; (2) the value of the drugs seized; (3) the packaging of the drugs; (4) whether there was any money seized from the suspect; (5) police observations of suspected narcotics transactions; (6) whether there were any narcotics paraphernalia seized.  The arresting officer(s) will testify as to these attendant circumstances.

3.  What is the purpose of the “narcotics expert”?

The State will rely on the testimony of a narcotics expert to help the jury interpret the circumstances of the arrest.  The narcotics expert is usually a county prosecutor’s investigator with experience in narcotics law enforcement.  The cross-examination of such an expert is usually the key to a successful defense.

4.  Is there a mandatory prison sentence for a conviction?

Yes, for some distribution offenses, such as (1) drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school; (2) employing a juvenile in a drug distribution network; (3) maintaining a drug manufacturing facility; and (4) the most serious offenses (based on weight).  There are also mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders.

5.  Does the Constitution apply to these cases?

Yes.  A motion to suppress evidence is usually advisable.  To see the related article from our website, click on this link:

What is a motion to suppress evidence?

Rule

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