Skip to Content

Possession vs. Distribution: Key Differences in Drug Crime Charges


Understanding drug crime charges is crucial for individuals who may find themselves facing such allegations. It empowers them to comprehend the different elements that constitute the offense and recognize the potentially elevated penalties associated with the specific acts involved in the alleged violation. This understanding can be a pivotal factor in making informed decisions about proceeding when faced with drug-related legal issues.

This blog post highlights the distinctions between drug possession and delivery charges. By clarifying these differences, individuals can navigate their legal situations more effectively. Whether you're accused of drug possession or distribution, understanding the charges' nuances can significantly impact your case's outcome.

If you're in Northwest Arkansas and need legal assistance regarding drug charges, reach out to Norwood & Norwood, P.A. at (479) 235-4600.

What Constitutes Drug Possession?

Drug possession refers to having ownership or control of a controlled substance. A controlled substance is any substance regulated by the government regarding its distribution and use. These substances can fall into two categories: illegal, which the government recognizes as having no medical use in the U.S., or legal, which may have medicinal purposes in the U.S.

Types of Possession

Depending on the situation, you can be accused of one of two types of possession.

These include the following:

  • Actual possession: This type occurs when you have physical contact with the drug. For example, if the substance is in your pocket or bag, you actually possess it.
  • Constructive possession: Constructive possession refers to a situation where the controlled substance is not on your person but is nearby, and you are aware of its presence and can take control of it if you choose to do so.

Potential Penalties for Possession

Penalties for drug possession can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug involved.

To illustrate, let's consider two examples:

  • Less than two grams of heroin: In this case, the crime is categorized as a Class D felony. The maximum potential prison term for this offense is six years.
  • Less than two grams of a Schedule III controlled substance: Here, possession is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail sentence of up to 1 year.

What Is Drug Delivery?

Drug delivery involves either actually or attempting to transfer a controlled substance to another person. This transfer can occur in exchange for money or any form of remuneration.

Types of Delivery

The delivery of controlled substances comes in different forms.

Below are some examples of delivery:

  • Sale: The term "sale" typically indicates that another individual pays you for the controlled substance. In this context, a financial transaction is involved in exchange for the drug.
  • Trafficking: Trafficking pertains to the transfer of large quantities of a controlled substance to another party. This often involves distributing significant amounts of drugs, which is a serious offense.
  • Intent to deliver: This category comes into play when you have actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. However, the circumstances suggest that the intent was not for personal use but to transfer it to someone else. Importantly, the transfer itself may not have occurred yet. Evidence that might indicate an intent to deliver includes the presence of scales, packaging materials, records of drug-related transactions, the presence of a firearm, or any amount of two or more controlled substances.

Possible Penalties for Delivery

Similar to drug possession cases, the penalties for drug delivery or intent to deliver charges are contingent on several factors, including the type and quantity of the substance involved. The consequences can vary significantly depending on these factors.

Key Differences Between Possession and Delivery

The distinctions between possession and delivery are determined by several critical factors that can significantly impact the nature of your charges.

Purpose of Possession

One crucial factor is whether you had the drug for personal use or intended to provide it to someone else. If you possessed the controlled substance solely for personal use, it typically falls under possession charges. However, if you intended to transfer it to another person, the conduct could lead to delivery charges.

Presence of Drug-Related Material

Another significant factor is the presence of drug-related materials in your possession. If you have items such as scales, packaging materials, records of drug-related transactions, or multiple controlled substances, this can strongly suggest an intent to deliver rather than possession for personal use.

Legal Implications

Possession and delivery charges can range in severity from misdemeanors to felonies. However, it's important to note that the legal system often views delivery charges as more serious. Consequently, the level of charge and subsequent penalties are typically higher for delivery offenses.

For example, possession may result in misdemeanor charges and relatively lighter penalties depending on the type and amount of the controlled substance. In contrast, delivery often leads to felony charges, which carry more severe consequences, including longer prison sentences and higher fines.

How Legal Representation Can Make a Difference

Having a skilled defense attorney on your side can be instrumental in navigating drug possession or delivery charges. They have the insights to meticulously review the details of your case, ensuring that proper legal procedures were followed during the investigation and analysis of the alleged substance. This scrutiny can be critical in identifying any irregularities or potential issues that may work in your favor.

Moreover, a lawyer can effectively communicate these concerns to the court and seek legal remedies that could positively impact the outcome. Whether challenging the validity of evidence, advocating for reduced charges, or negotiating a favorable plea deal, legal representation can significantly influence your case's direction.

If you're facing drug-related charges in Northwest Arkansas and need legal assistance, schedule a consultation with Norwood & Norwood, P.A. by calling (479) 235-4600.