Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute

In Colorado, it is illegal to have possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute them to others without lawful authorization. Possession of drugs with intent to distribute is a serious criminal offense that carries significant penalties in the event of conviction, including years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

But you don’t have to face a charge of drug possession with intent to distribute alone. Let a criminal defense attorney from Patterson Weaver Law, LLC help protect your rights and freedom. We’ll treat you like a person, not a case number. We’ll explain your legal rights, the charges you face, and possible defense strategies in plain English rather than legalese. Our team will always be available to you, keeping you updated on the status of your case and answering any questions you may have.

Reach out online to the drug possession attorneys of Patterson Weaver Law, LLC to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.

What Is Possession with Intent to Distribute?

According to Colorado drug laws, it is illegal for someone to knowingly possess drugs with the intention to dispense, distribute, or sell those drugs to others if they are not authorized by law to do so. The state also makes it illegal to induce others to possess drugs for distribution or to conspire with others to distribute drugs.

What Is a “Controlled Substance?”

A controlled substance is any drug or compound listed in Colorado’s Controlled Substances Act. Examples of “controlled substances” include:

  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens, such as LSD, peyote, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and mescaline
  • Heroin and other opioids such as Codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Methadone, and Fentanyl
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • “Party drugs” such as ecstasy, GHB, and ketamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Sleep medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • ADD/ADHD medications

Drug Classification

Controlled substances subject to the possession with intent laws fall into one of five schedules listed under Colorado’s Controlled Substances Act. Substances are classified according to their addictive qualities and medically accepted uses. Schedule I substances include drugs that have no currently accepted medical uses and have the highest risk of addiction. In contrast, Schedule V substances include drugs that have commonly accepted medical uses and the lowest risk of addiction or abuse.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

To secure a conviction for possession of drugs with intent to distribute, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant “knowingly” possessed the drugs at issue. The specific quantity or type of drug is not relevant. Instead, criminal liability attaches so long as the defendant knew they had possession of some sort of controlled substance.

In addition to proving that a defendant knowingly had possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must also prove that they intended to distribute the controlled substance, whether by means of selling them or just simply giving them to another person. Proving intent can be done through either direct or circumstantial evidence. “Circumstantial” evidence refers to evidence that does not directly prove a fact but allows a jury or factfinder to infer the existence or truth of the fact. The following are some common examples of direct and circumstantial evidence that a prosecutor may use to prove intent in a possession with intent to distribute case:

  • Statements the defendant made to police or others
  • Behavior the defendant displayed in the presence of police or others
  • Emails, text messages, voicemails, and social media posts
  • Possessing drugs that are divided into small packages
  • Possession of drug packaging equipment and materials, such as scales, baggies, or glassine envelopes
  • Records of a drug transaction, such as pay/owe sheets
  • Possession of large amounts of cash in proximity to drugs or paraphernalia

Is Possession with Intent to Distribute a Felony?

The potential penalties for a conviction of possession of drugs with intent to distribute depend on the type of controlled substance involved and the quantity of the substance. These penalties may include:

  • Class 1 Felony: Eight to 32 years in prison followed by mandatory three years’ parole, a possible fine of $5,000 to $1 million, and a drug offender surcharge fine of $4,500. Possession of heroin with intent to distribute when you are in possession of more than 112 grams of heroin is a Level 1 felony. Possession of heroin with intent to distribute when you are in possession of more than 112 grams of heroin is a Level 1 felony. Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance can also be charged with a Class 1 felony.
  • Class 2 Felony: Four to eight years in prison followed by two years’ mandatory parole and/or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000, plus a drug offender surcharge of $3,000. Possession with intent to distribute more than ½ ounce to ½ pound of Schedule I or II drugs is a Level 2 felony.
  • Class 3 Felony: Two to four years in prison with one year of mandatory parole and/or a fine of $2,000 to $500,000, plus a drug offender surcharge of $2,000. Possession with intent to distribute less than ½ ounce of a Schedule I or II drug is a Level 3 felony.
  • Class 4 Felony: Incarceration of six months to one year and/or a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, plus a drug offender surcharge of $1,500. Possession with intent to distribute 4 grams or less of a Schedule III or IV drug is a Level 4 felony.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: Six to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000

The Federal Controlled Substances Act

While possession of drugs within Colorado is governed by the state’s Controlled Substances Act, drug crimes that involve crossing state lines, the use of the mail or the internet, or federal property may be charged under the federal Controlled Substances Act. While the Colorado Controlled Substances Act and the federal Controlled Substances Act have many similarities, penalties for violating federal drug laws are typically more severe than under Colorado law.

Possible Defenses

Depending on the circumstances of the charges against you, the following defenses may prove effective:

  • The drugs did not belong to you
  • You acquired the drugs for your personal use
  • You did not knowingly have possession of drugs
  • You were lawfully authorized to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance
  • The drugs were found during an illegal search

Contact Patterson Weaver Law Today

Don’t leave your freedom and reputation to chance if you’ve been charged with possession with intent to distribute. Contact Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today for a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Find out how our firm can help you pursue a favorable outcome. Life happens. Let us help.