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The difference between intent to distribute and trafficking

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Georgia has very strict rules concerning drugs. There are numerous prohibited substances and also many prescription medications subject to restrictions under current policies enforced in Georgia. Those arrested by police officers while allegedly in possession of prohibited or controlled substances will likely face criminal charges.

Many people expect that the state will file simple possession charges against someone who is found to have drugs under unlawful conditions, but that is not always what happens. It is standard practice for prosecutors in Georgia and elsewhere to file the most serious charges possible given the circumstances. As a result, someone arrested for a drug offense in Georgia could face charges of possession with intent to distribute or drug trafficking instead of simple possession.

The weight of the drugs may be the deciding factor

If the state believes that someone intends to sell drugs to others or otherwise plays a role in their distribution, enhanced charges with more serious penalties are likely. The total weight of the drugs found and also the type of drug will determine what charges the state pursues.

Someone caught with only a small amount of a prohibited or controlled substance will likely face possession with intent to distribute charges. Depending on the substance involved, the cutoff for possession with intent could be as little as four grams. If the drug is a Schedule I substance, meaning a prohibited drug, or a Schedule II narcotic, as little as four grams of the drug could be enough for the state to pursue trafficking charges.

As the weight of the drugs increases, the possible penalties increase as well. The state does not necessarily need to prove that someone has ties to the drug trade or made money transferring drugs. The amount of the substances discovered at the time of their arrest or during the execution of a search warrant could be sufficient to justify their prosecution with a trafficking offense.

Both possession with the intent to distribute and drug trafficking are felony offenses rather than misdemeanors. The possible penalties that the courts impose will depend on the schedule of the substances and the total weight. Lower schedule numbers and higher total weights tend to risk more serious penalties.

Learning about the rules that determine the charges that prosecutors pursue may benefit those accused of violating Georgia’s drug laws. Seeking legal guidance right away is critical to protecting the interests of someone who has been accused of a drug offense, no matter the nature of the offense in question.