When does possession become drug trafficking?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

Many people who are arrested for drug crimes in Tennessee face possession charges. Police officers discover drugs in someone’s possession or on their property and arrest them. The state then uses evidence about the presence of those drugs to justify criminal charges.

Sometimes, those preparing to defend against criminal charges in Tennessee receive a real shock at their arraignment hearing. The prosecutor announces that they want to pursue drug trafficking charges instead of basic possession charges. When is it possible to pursue trafficking charges against someone instead of simple possession charges?

Secondary factors can worsen pending charges

If state prosecutors want to bring the most severe charges against someone, they tend to look very carefully at the evidence that they currently have. Certain factors might justify the decision to charge someone with a trafficking offense instead of possession.

For example, perhaps police officers found drugs during the search of someone’s vehicle. If they get caught right by the border of the state or admit to having crossed state lines, that could potentially be enough to justify claims of drug trafficking. Other times, it may be secondary items that law enforcement officers signed while searching someone’s property. Specifically, scales used to weigh drugs and containers for repackaging them can make it seem as though someone intended to distribute the drugs in their possession to others.

Occasionally, an individual’s personal history could lead to the state viewing their drug possession more suspiciously. An individual with a prior record of drug trafficking or close connections to individuals with a known involvement in the drug trade could also sometimes face more serious charges. Someone’s text messages and social media use could also raise questions about what they actually intended to do with the drugs in their possession.

What trafficking charges mean for a defendant

Drug trafficking is a significantly more serious offense than simple possession. People typically face felony charges when accused of trafficking and a host of major penalties if they plead guilty or get convicted. However, when the state only has circumstantial evidence backing its claims of trafficking, the person accused may also have a better chance of fighting back against the charges that they face.

Mounting a vigorous defense is often the best choice possible for someone accused of drug trafficking because the police claim to have found drugs in their possession. Seeking informed legal guidance is a good way to get started.