Police officer finds a bag of drugs in a backpack, which will mean a charge of possession, and possibly possession with intent to sell.

In Washington State, it is illegal for anyone “to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.” (RCW 69.50.401) If you have been charged with possession or possession with intent to sell, it is imperative to hire an attorney who can prepare your drug crime defense and help you avoid hefty penalties.

The consequences of drug crimes in Washington State can vary from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on your criminal history and nature of the crime. Now, is there a difference between possession and possession with intent to sell, and what does that mean for your case?

In this blog, we will provide a closer look at the definitions of both, along with the consequences if you have been charged.


Drug Crime Defense: What is the difference between possession and possession with intent to sell?

There is a difference between possession of these substances and possession with intent to sell. Knowing the difference is important for your drug crime defense.


Drug Possession

Definition: Drug possession is when you are found with or have control over illegal substances.

A drug possession charge is now a misdemeanor in Washington State, requiring you to be incarcerated for as many as 90 days. You may also be subject to several thousand dollars in fines and a drug treatment evaluation or program. While a possession charge without intent to sell is not a felony, it still affects your life in many ways, such as causing you to be out of work for up to three months in jail.

Drug possession charges can be tricky, as the prosecutor must have sufficient evidence and prove “actual” or “constructive” possession. Actual possession is when illegal substances are found on your person, whereas constructive possession is when they are discovered in an area (e.g., a car or bedroom) that you had control over.

Constructive possession might require substantially more evidence if anyone else had access to the area where the drugs were found. For instance, if the police conducted a legal search in your home and located illegal substances, they may require additional evidence if anyone else lives in your home.


Drug Possession With Intent to Sell

Definition: Drug possession with intent to sell is when you have been found attempting to distribute or make money from illegal substances.

Drug possession with intent to sell charges come with up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 to $100,000+ fine depending on the quantity of drugs found. This can stay on your record for years, getting in the way of finding a good job or securing housing.

Keep in mind that the drugs do not have to be on hand for you to be charged. They simply have to be in a location you have control over, such as your home, and the search must be conducted legally or with a warrant to be considered permissible in the court’s eyes.

Evidence of possession with intent to sell may include:

  • Having large amounts of cash on hand.
  • Multiple people stopping by for short stints.
  • Correspondence between you and at least one buyer.

The sale does not have to be completed to hold up in court. You simply have to show “intent,” meaning that there is reason to believe you were in the process of selling a controlled substance. (Facing first-offense felony drug charges? Click here to contact one of the best drug defense attorneys in Spokane.)

The difference between a drug possession and drug possession with intent to sell charge is the quantity of drugs at hand and evidence of distribution. With a drug possession charge, there is likely no evidence that you intended to distribute the drugs to anyone other than yourself, and you partook in them alone.


Drug Crime Defense

While drug crime penalties can be high, a good drug crime defense attorney can help minimize those penalties. Here at Bugbee Law Office, we will provide an aggressive defense to ensure any evidence obtained illegally is thrown out.

We will also work hard to prove that you are innocent, particularly in the event that you did not know you were in possession of a controlled substance. By having an experienced lawyer in your corner, you can fight the charges with greater confidence of lowered charges or a “not guilty” verdict.

A qualified criminal defense attorney, like Chris Bugbee, also understands drug law loopholes, how to get drug possession charges dropped, and the options for first-time offenders. If this is your first possession charge, we can help make the case that you are a good candidate for a treatment program or community service to help you avoid jail time (assuming you meet certain criteria). (RCW 9.94A.650)


Key Takeaway

A strong drug crime defense is needed whether you are charged with drug possession or possession with intent to sell. The difference between these two drug charges is the action (or implied action) of providing another person with the controlled substance.

Penalties for both drug crimes can be severe, particularly if you have been charged with similar crimes in the past. Regardless, a criminal defense attorney will look for any opportunities or fallacies in your case that will help keep the charges to a minimum.

Need an attorney to help you create a defense for a drug crime? Chris Bugbee is a top-rated Spokane DUI and criminal defense attorney with experience working with cases like yours. Book a consultation at Bugbee Law Office today for a free case evaluation.

Bugbee Law Office, P.S.  (509) 337-5082

1312 N Monroe St, Ste 147

Spokane, WA 99201 |  View Map

View Our Privacy Policy

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

© 2016 Bugbee Law Offices, P.S.