How Does the State Prove Intent to Distribute Drugs in NJ?


In New Jersey, if you are charged with a drug crime for intent to distribute, you are facing charges for an indictable offense, which has significant penalties if you are found guilty. Depending on the CDS (controlled dangerous substance) involved in your case, the consequences vary. For instance, a charge for intent to distribute marijuana is graded differently than a possession with intent to distribute cocaine offense. Regardless of the drug you are accused of intending to distribute in New Jersey, the State has the same burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.

To be charged and convicted of intent to distribute drugs in NJ, the prosecution does not need to prove that you actually distributed the drugs, but merely that you possessed the drugs with the intent to distribute them, rather than keep the drugs for personal use. This means that the prosecution must prove that it was your “conscious objective” to manufacture, distribute, or dispense the drugs.

So, if the difference between a simple possession charge and an intent to distribute charge is the element of intent, you might be wondering: how does the state prove you intended to distribute the drugs? Well, there are a few factors that the prosecution uses as evidence at trial to prove your intent.

Actual Sale of Drugs in NJ

The easiest way for the prosecution to prove intent to distribute is if they have evidence of a sale or an attempted sale to a witness or an undercover police officer. However, many intent to distribute cases do not involve evidence of an actual sale and the prosecution must rely on other evidence to prove intent.

Volume of Drugs in Possession

One of the most convincing factors that the prosecution uses as evidence to prove intent to distribute is the quantity of drugs you had in your possession. If the amount you had is greater than a person would have for personal use, the prosecution will argue that it is because you did not intend to use it all for personal use, but rather that you intended to sell it.

Drug Packaging in Distribution Cases

At trial, the prosecution will also present evidence of the way the drugs were packaged as proof that you intended to distribute the drugs, rather than keep them for yourself. If the drugs are divided into equal, separate packages, the prosecution will argue that they were measured and prepared in order to sell the drugs.

Materials Used to Weigh and Package Controlled Dangerous Substances

Similarly, if the police find evidence of a scale used to weigh drugs or materials like individual bags or pill containers that would likely be used to package drugs, this can also be used as evidence by the prosecution to prove intent to distribute.

Lots of Cash

If the police find that along with a large volume of drugs, you also had a large volume of cash on hand, that may be used as evidence to support intent to distribute, as potential evidence of previous sales. Particularly along with one of more of the other factors listed above, having a large amount of cash on hand can suggest that you are already engaged in the distribution of drugs and intend to distribute the drugs in your possession.

Intent to Distribute Drugs Defense Lawyer in Elizabeth NJ

If you have been charged with intent to distribute drugs in Union County, New Jersey, you are potentially facing significant jail time and fines. However, having a knowledgeable drug defense lawyer on your side can give you the advantage you need to undermine the State’s case against you. Contact the experienced Union NJ drug defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law right away to review your case and begin developing your best defense.

With offices in Cranford, our skilled legal team defends clients charged with intent to distribute marijuana, heroin, cocaine, MDMA, Oxycontin, and other drugs throughout Union County, NJ. We can help you fight drug charges arising in Union Township, Elizabeth, Westfield, Summit, Linden, and everywhere in between. Call (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced drug defense attorney.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.