Possession with intent to distribute is a serious drug charge that can result in enhanced sentences beyond what is usual for illegal possession alone. It’s also a charge that can be difficult to understand and defend against without skilled legal representation. Perhaps you were lured into buying drugs by an undercover cop, then arrested and charged. Or perhaps an undercover cop approached you asking you to sell him some drugs, and you were persuaded to do so.
Did they set you up? Is this entrapment?
Maybe so; maybe not. The circumstances surrounding your arrest are key to understanding whether you can legitimately claim entrapment.
What Constitutes Possession With Intent to Distribute?
Possession with intent to distribute means just what it sounds like: it means having drugs in your possession that are not just for your own use, but for the distributing (e.g., selling) to others. There doesn’t have to be any evidence that you were manufacturing or actually trafficking the drugs—there just needs to be indicators that you intended to do so.
Prosecutors usually draw upon circumstantial evidence to determine whether to charge you with intent to distribute. For example:
- If law enforcement observed an alleged drug deal in progress
- If the drug is possessed in a larger quantity than a person might use on their own
- If the drug is or packaged in multiple containers, as if for sale
- If they observe other physical evidence at the scene (e.g., messages from clients, measuring scales, or manufacturing paraphernalia)
Many defendants try to use the entrapment defense if an undercover cop was involved in the interaction that got them arrested. In reality, entrapment is a specific type of misconduct by law enforcement or prosecutors that results in inappropriate charges against you.
Specifically, entrapment is when a government agent entices or coerces you to commit a crime that you ordinarily would not have committed. The phrase “that you ordinarily would not have committed” is key because it is NOT entrapment if the agent simply poses as a participant in a crime you were likely to commit anyway. Even if the agent successfully lures you into committing the crime, it may not qualify as entrapment because without some sort of coercion.
Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate:
Example 1: An undercover officer posing as a distributor tries to convince you to buy a larger quantity of the drug than you would normally buy. Perhaps he offers to “cut you in” if you “share” some with your friends. He’s exceptionally persistent and possibly even threatens you with retribution if you don’t do it. You give in and make the purchase to get him off your back—then you’re arrested.
In this case, your defense attorney might be able to make a case for entrapment because although you might be guilty of simple possession, you wouldn’t have bought enough of the drug to sell to others had you not been harassed to do so. You have a stronger case to prove you had no intent to distribute.
Example 2: An undercover officer approaches you expressing an interest in buying drugs from you. You have an extra stash, and after some persuasion, you agree to sell to him. He then arrests you.
In this case, entrapment would likely not be a viable defense because you had the freedom of choice not to sell the drug, but you did so anyway.
What to Do If You Believe You Are a Victim of Entrapment
If you believe a government agent put you in a situation where you were not likely to commit the crime for which you’re charged, the best thing you can do is talk to an experienced drug possession attorney as soon as possible. Proving entrapment can be a tricky business, and it typically takes a skilled criminal defense attorney to successfully prove that entrapment occurred.
Have You Been Arrested With Drug Possesion And Intent To Distribute In Virgina, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you'be been arrested for drug possession with intent to distribute you need to speak with an experienced drug defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virginia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to sechdule your case consultation.