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Police Officer and Man Arrested for Drug Possession

Possession vs. Possession
with Intent to Sell

The Summary Law Firm July 8, 2022

If you’re facing a drug possession charge, know that this can be a very serious offense—especially if you’re also under suspicion of possession with intent to sell. Each state handles possession and distribution differently, and you need to know how Missouri’s laws may affect your case. The best thing you can do for yourself is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can investigate your case and educate you about your options.

If you’re in the St. Louis, Missouri area, or anywhere throughout St. Charles, St. Louis County, St. Clair County (Illinois), or Madison County (Illinois), give me a call today to schedule a consultation. For over 14 years at The Summary Law Firm, I’ve been dedicated to defending people’s rights and building the strongest case possible for my clients.

The Basics of Missouri’s
Drug Possession Laws

Missouri follows the same basic model as the federal government when it comes to classifying drugs. In Missouri, these are referred to as controlled dangerous substances (CDS), and they’re divided into five schedules, with Schedule I being the most dangerous and Schedule V being the least dangerous. A drug is considered “dangerous” if it’s shown to have a high likelihood of abuse or addiction, and if there’s no known medical value. Common schedule I drugs include heroin, marijuana, or LSD, while schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. 

Many drugs that are considered controlled substances are not always illegal to possess. For example, you may have a doctor's prescription to carry and use these substances. In this case, possession would be legal. However, there are some drugs like heroin that have no proven medical use and will always be illegal to possess. When you don’t have a valid legal reason to carry a CDS, you run the risk of being charged with drug possession. In Missouri, this could mean facing a Class D felony.

The Difference Between Simple Possession & Intent to Sell

When you’re arrested for possession of a CDS, you may also be looking at a charge of intent to sell as well. Both these charges need to be taken seriously—but an intent to sell offense carries with it much steeper penalties. 

Possession means that you knowingly have physical control over the drug. This could mean it’s on your person, but it could also mean that it’s in your car or hidden somewhere in your house. You may be charged with possession even if someone who was in your car had drugs on them if the prosecution can show that you knew about it. 

An intent to sell charge typically means you have a large amount of drugs (more than just for personal use) or there’s other evidence that you intended to sell, such as customer lists or packaging supplies. This offense may bring your charges up to a Class C felony. 

Possible Penalties

The penalties you’ll face for either possession or possession with intent to sell will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, the type of drug involved, and your criminal history. If you’re only found guilty of possession, you could face fines of up to $5,000, jail or prison time, or be required to attend a diversion or rehabilitation program. 

An intent to sell charge typically brings more years in prison and the penalties are worse for repeat offenders. If you’re a “prior offender,” that means you only have one felony conviction in your past and you will generally see more leniency from a judge. However, if you’re a “persistent offender”— meaning you have two or more felony convictions—the consequences may be more severe.

Possible Defenses

When you’re charged with possession, the prosecution must show that you knowingly had control over the drugs. It could be the case that the drugs were indeed in your home or your car, but you had no knowledge of this. In other cases, the police may have found the drugs through an illegal search and seizure which would render the evidence inadmissible. If you’re facing an intent to sell charge, the prosecution must prove intent. If you hadn’t actually sold anything at the time, proving intent can be tricky. Even if you had a large amount of drugs on you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you intended to sell them. A skilled attorney can seek to cast doubt on any weak evidence brought up by the prosecution. 

Experienced & Skilled Legal Advocacy

Being arrested for a drug-related crime can be extremely stressful. You need to have the right kind of legal assistance behind you when facing a judge. Missouri state law treats these charges very seriously, but by having a skilled lawyer by your side, you can put yourself in a position to reduce your chances of a disastrous penalty. At The Summary Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri, I can help you with any drug charge you’re facing and I am committed to making sure everyone gets a fair trial. Set up a one-on-one consultation with me today.