In New York, possession with the intent to distribute is a crime that combines possessing a controlled substance with the criminal intent to distribute that substance. Possession of a controlled substance on its own is a crime, but typically possession with intent to distribute is punished more harshly. Generally speaking, a prosecutor will look at the circumstances around a defendant's possession of a controlled substance to determine if that defendant intended to distribute the drugs. One of the most important factors is the amount of the drug.
The first element of possession with intent to distribute is that the individual charged must have knowingly possessed the illegal substance. "Knowingly" is the operative word. Willful ignorance of the nature of the subject is no defense, however.
In addition to the possession requirement, the prosecutor must also prove the individual intended to sell or offer the substance to others. Because intent can be subjective, a prosecutor can show the intent to distribute through inferences. Evidence of intent often includes large amounts of illegal substances, multiple small amounts seemingly packaged for sale, and the presence of objects that would be used in the preparation and sale of illegal substances including digital scales or drug paraphernalia.
Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is a felony in New York, and an individual so charged could face several years in prison if a conviction is obtained. Given the weight of the consequences, it is important that people who are facing these types of charges contact an attorney with experience in criminal defense law as soon as possible.