Drug offenses include possession, manufacturing, and distribution of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. You can also be charged for drug offenses regarding prescription drugs if you did not have a valid prescription at the time the drugs were found in your possession, you obtained the drugs by use of a forged prescription, or you attempted to forge a prescription for the drugs.
You can be charged with a possession offense if illegal drugs are on your person or in any place over which you have control, including your vehicle, your home, or any outbuildings on your property, presuming that you can exercise control over the premises. You can also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if any objects are found in your possession or in areas within your control that can be used in conjunction with illegal drugs for purposes including growing, harvesting, storing, packaging, or in any way introducing the substance into the body. Paraphernalia charges can be brought for something as innocent as brillo pads and a cigarette lighter, if found near a stash of certain substances. You can be charged even if you were unaware of the presence of the drugs or you were unaware that the substance was an illegal substance, although these factors may constitute a valid defense to the charges against you.
The crime of manufacturing an illegal substance encompasses any unlicensed, unauthorized, and intentional creation of an illegal drug, including the growing of marijuana. Manufacturing charges may be brought if the requisite components for the creation of an illegal substance are found in an area over which you exercise control, such as your home or garage. Again, as with a possession charge, you may be charged with manufacturing even if you did not know that the operation was set up on your premises, although, again, this may constitute a valid defense to the crime, as will the accidental creation of an illegal substance.
Distribution charges often go hand in hand with possession or manufacturing charges, and the two may stem from the same incident. All that is required for a distribution charge is that you knew you were in possession of a controlled substance, and some proof that you intended to sell or otherwise distribute the substance. Distribution is not limited to the sale of a controlled substance, but may be charged for the sharing or gifting of illegal drugs. Distribution charges may be brought even if you are not “caught in the act” of selling or sharing the drugs, but may be shown by other evidence, including confessions to the police, the quantity of drugs possessed, and the presence of paraphernalia associated with sales that is found in proximity to the drugs, such as scales or packaging materials or even large amounts of cash. At federal law, you can also be penalized for importing or exporting drugs into and out of the United States.
Attempt and Conspiracy
You can also be charged with a crime even if you did not actually possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs. An attempt charge can be brought if you intended to commit a crime and took a substantial step toward the commission of that crime. A substantial step can be something as simple as possession of drug paraphernalia such as a marijuana pipe, the making of an appointment to meet a drug dealer to purchase drugs, even if that meeting does not ultimately take place, or the acquisition of some of the materials necessary to manufacture drugs, such as the purchase of a large amount of ephedrine (Sudafed), anhydrous ammonia, or Freon. In fact, police officers commonly conduct sting operations by watching Sudafed purchases at drug stores, and following those who purchase more than a small box or who are known by the employees as regular customers.
Additionally, conspiracy charges can be added on to any possession, distribution, manufacturing, or even attempt charges, if it can be established that you deliberately agreed with another person to commit one of these crimes or deliberately joined in with others who had previously agreed to commit a crime, knowing that the agreement existed.