In Utah, drug trafficking and distribution charges carry severe penalties, including fines and prison time. In many cases, prosecutors can add federal charges to those brought by the state.
Drug trafficking is essentially the same as sale or distribution, but across state lines. This most serious of drug charges can potentially result in a life sentence in prison. Even you don’t get the maximum penalty, your life and future can be ruined.
Drug Possession May Lead to Drug Trafficking or Distribution Charges
In most cases, drug trafficking charges stem from an arrest for drug possession, known in Utah as possession of a controlled substance.
If the amount of drugs exceeds established standards, authorities can assert that you planned to sell them rather than keep them for personal use. However, even a minimal amount of a controlled substance can result in drug distribution or trafficking charges if you are also in possession of certain types of drug paraphernalia.
Digital scales, for example, or small, plastic bags typically used to package drugs for sale may be enough to land you in serious trouble for trafficking or intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Actual versus Constructive Possession of Drugs
In Utah, you can be charged with drug trafficking or distribution even if the controlled substances were not in your actual possession, meaning on your physical person.
Constructive possession charges can be leveled if law enforcement officials can demonstrate that you had the intent and ability to control the substance. Proving intent can present a challenge, but prosecutors can prove you had the ability to distribute drugs if they were in your car or home, for example.
So if you’re on a road trip with friends, driving your own vehicle, you may well be charged if an officer discovers drugs in the car, even if they belong to one of your buddies. Worse yet, if your friend tucked his or her supply into your glove box or under the car seat, your argument of, “It isn’t mine!” will likely fall on deaf ears.
Even having just drug paraphernalia is enough for authorities to press possession charges. If you have traveled across state lines, drug trafficking charges are also on the table.
Prosecutors May Use Drug Trafficking Charges as Leverage
Even if prosecutors don’t have a strong case, they will often press drug trafficking or intent to distribute charges as leverage.
Faced with this terrifying prospect, many alleged offenders are eager to plead to lesser charges, in exchange for dismissal of trafficking or distribution charges. Although your fears of huge fines and prison time are well founded, this is not always a wise choice. Remember, the discovery of drugs in your car or even in your home does not mean you are guilty of a crime.
If you find yourself facing drug charges of any kind, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A good lawyer can assist you in building a strong case, possibly leading to dismissal or reduced charges.
The Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates, with locations in Salt Lake City, St. George and Murray, Utah, has an extensive track record of successful criminal defense. I will work diligently on your behalf, and bring to bear the full weight of my skills and experience. If you have been charged with possession, distribution or drug trafficking in Utah, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.