The Utah criminal code classifies possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute at the same level as actual distribution or sale of drugs. Both possession with the intent to distribute and actual distribution of a controlled substance are considered second degree felonies, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. With enhancements (for a drug free zone or for prior distribution convictions) the charge can be filed as a first degree felony with a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.
Defending Criminal Charges for Possession with Intent to Distribute
Under Utah law, a charge for distribution of a controlled substance requires proof that a defendant actually sold, delivered, shared, or otherwise distributed a controlled substance. Possession with the intent to distribute instead requires evidence only that the defendant “intended” to distribute the drugs. In determining the defendant’s intent, police, prosecutors, judges, and juries may consider a variety of evidence, including the amount of drugs in the person’s possession (is it more than what would be considered a “personal use” amount), whether scales, packaging materials, or other paraphernalia or items commonly associated with distribution were found along with the drugs, as well as statements made by the defendant or other witnesses.
Even if the evidence is not sufficient to support the “intent to distribute” element of the offense, a jury may still convict a person of the “lesser included offense” of simple possession of a controlled substance. For many drugs, this may still result in a felony conviction.
Contact a Utah Criminal Attorney in Salt Lake
With offices centrally located in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard provides services to clients throughout Utah. If you are facing drug charges, contact us today for an initial consultation.