Posession with intent to sell

For no particular reason at all, I started to recall a time when I served on a jury in California. The defendant was accused of possession of illegal drugs with the intent to sell. One of the possible scenarios, I’ve always wondered about, so I’m asking here. The legal hypothetical:

The accused is caught in possession of illegal drugs. For the sake of argument, assume it was demonstrated[sup]*[/sup] that he was transporting the drugs on behalf of another person (“the supplier”) and was to deliver the drugs to another person (“the dealer”). The accused was not actually intending to exchange the drugs for cash himself, but he was fully aware that it was the intent that the dealer would accept the drugs from him, and then sell those drugs to prospective buyers.

Is the accused guilty only of “possession” or “possession with intent to sell”? In other words, does the accused himself need to have the intent, or is it only required that the accused be aware of the intent of the overall transaction?

[sup]*[/sup]This was not actually demonstrated in the real case

In my errr… experience… you get charged with intent to sell if you’re in possession of an amount not considered reasonable for personal use.

Back in the day, if you had an ounce of weed, it was possession. If you had a pound, it’s possession with intent. No “actual” intent needs to be proven.

As always, IANAL and YMMV.

In Virginia, on those facts, you would likely be charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute (not sell), but convicted of a lesser charge of Accommodation. That basically means you transported the stuff without getting any particular benefit. The sentencing structure is much less for accommodation.

His criminal possession and transportation of the drugs facilitated the intent to sell . . . it is because of this that he could be charged with the “intent to sell” clause of the charge.

In Washington too, it’s “intent to deliver,” not sell.

These are often very interesting cases. The question of intent is sometimes open to legitimate questions.

In NJ it is “Possession with Intent to Distribute”. Distribution means to transfer to another under illegal circumstances (paraphrased). This excludes doctors, pharmacies, transportation companies etc. Technically, you could be charged for sharing a joint (never happened). The intent must be proven in court. As an expert witness in narcotics investigations I could take a hypothetical and render an opinion as to whether or not intent existed. I would list various factors such as amount of drugs, presence of large amounts of cash, observations of the suspect prior to the arrest, absence of paraphernalia used to ingest the drug, manner of packaging etc. It was up to the jury to decided whether or not the intent was there. Most cases were so clear-cut that it was obvious.

My first jury duty was on a Federal drug case and something very similar came up - someone was caught with a large amount (IIRC it was over a kilogram) of cocaine in their car. One of the prosecution witnesses testified as to the amount of cocaine that could reasonably be for personal use (grams or fractions, as I remember).

The defendant was charged with, among other things, possession with intent to distribute and one of the elements of that crime was that the amount in question was too large for personal use. The defendant wasn’t actually selling the stuff himself but he was working in concert with some others who actually put it out on the street (the ringleader had been previously arrested and was doing time, he was brought out as another witness).

Yes, IIRC the law in Canada was over a certain fixed amount of each drug, the “trafficking” charge kicked in automatically. here was no requirement to prove intent, the wholesale volume was considered proof by default. That’s typically the case.

Side note - someone discussing US Border controls said that if your Canadian arrest/conviction for marijuana was below a certain trigger amount, they would not hold it against you trying to enter the USA. However, the amount was significantly less than the trafficking threshold, so good chance the weight was not documented, especially in older cases.

We had a tech who could only work in Canada, she had a marijuana conviction in Canada, the US border folks would not let her in. This was in the 90’s.