Drug possession with intent: How can the state prove your intent?

All drug charges are serious, but some carry harsher penalties than others. In Texas, possession with intent to deliver - that is, intent to sell the drugs - results in more serious consequences than simple possession for personal use.

But how can the prosecutor prove your intent?

Ultimately, it comes down to what the jury believes. There's no way for the jury to read your mind. Instead, the case will likely turn on circumstantial evidence that indirectly shows your intent. Here are some examples of this evidence:

  • The amount of drugs: Quantity is perhaps the most important factor that separates simple possession from possession with intent. A jury is more apt to believe that a small amount of drugs was solely for personal use. Large quantities, by contrast, are far more likely to reflect a trafficking operation.
  • The presence of trafficking paraphernalia: Did the police find items such as scales, packaging supplies, ledgers and cash at the scene? These items may serve as critical evidence of intent to sell, even if cash never actually changed hands.
  • The presence of other drugs: Similarly, if police found multiple types of drugs at the scene, the jury is more likely to believe they aren't for personal use.
  • The location of the drugs: Were you caught at a known trafficking location or drug den? The prosecutor will likely use this fact against you.
  • Your words and conduct: Everything you say to the police or prosecutors can come back to haunt you later. Likewise, the police officers' observations may serve as evidence of your intent.

The state isn't limited to these factors in proving intent. It might also bring in expert witnesses such as narcotics officers to support its case. The testimony of a confidential informant might also play a critical role if sufficiently backed up by other evidence.

Fortunately, no case is watertight. There are always ways to challenge the state's case, especially when it comes to proving intent. The right defense lawyer can help you develop an effective strategy for your situation.

Source: 53 Tex. Jur. 3d Narcotics, Etc. § 172

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