How Are Drug Trafficking and Drug Possession Different?

Drug crimes are serious offenses. However, they are not all the same. Some drug offenses have longer prison sentences than others. You are at greater risk of going to prison for a long time if a prosecutor charges you with drug trafficking than if the charge is for drug possession.

FindLaw provides information on drug trafficking and drug possession that shows how these two crimes are different from one another.

How drug possession works

A drug possession crime means that you either have illegal drugs or can control a stash of them. The police could arrest you if they find drugs on you, but they may also arrest you if they find drugs inside your vehicle or another location that you can access any time you want to. You must also know that you possess drugs that are not legal for you to have.

However, just because you possess illegal drugs does not mean you intend to give them to someone else or sell them. Some people only have drugs for personal use. It is when the police suspect that you plan to distribute the drugs that you run the risk of drug trafficking charges.

How drug trafficking works

The police may think you are distributing drugs if they find evidence that you plan to sell or transport illegal drugs, or that you wish to bring illegal substances into the state. If the police discover you with a lot of cash, they may believe one or more persons bought drugs from you. Packaging materials could also be evidence of drug distribution, since the police may think you plan to ship the drugs.

Charges do not mean conviction

Being charged with a drug crime does not mean a court is certain to find you guilty. People charged with a crime may turn to a legal representative to find a way to plead down a serious charge into a lesser one, or have a court dismiss a charge if there is no evidence to support it. Your options to defend yourself against a drug crime charge will depend on your situation.