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What Has to Be Proven in a Drug Trafficking Case? 


Being accused of drug trafficking is a serious matter. You can face stiff penalties, including periods of incarceration in prison if you are found guilty of a trafficking charge. A trafficking charge can be leveled against you even if you were not actively engaged in selling or passing out a controlled substance. 

Just because you are charged with trafficking does not mean a conviction is guaranteed, however. The prosecutor handling your case would need to prove the following propositions beyond a reasonable doubt before you could be convicted: 

You Manufactured, Sold, or Delivered a Controlled Substance 

First, the prosecutor will need to prove with evidence and testimony that you manufactured a controlled substance, sold such a substance to another, or delivered a controlled substance to a third party.  

While this may be simple to demonstrate if law enforcement caught you in a sting operation or you sold drugs to an undercover cop, it may not be so easy to show in other cases.  

For example, the prosecutor may have trouble meeting this element if the only evidence was that a manufacturing operation was set up in your home or on your property. In this case, the prosecutor would need to provide evidence establishing that you knew or should have known about the operation on your property to obtain a conviction. 

You Possessed Controlled Substances With Intent 

As an alternative to showing you manufactured, sold, or delivered controlled substances to another, prosecutors can prove that you were found to be in possession of a certain quantity of drugs.  

If you are found in possession of drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, or marijuana, and the amount you have exceeds statutory limits, then a court may presume you had such a great quantity because you intended to traffic it.  

Once again, this may not be a straightforward task for the prosecution if the drugs are not found in or on your immediate person.  

Demonstrating Intent 

Suppose that you and several other individuals in a car are arrested after police locate a large amount of marijuana in the trunk. In this situation, the prosecutor would need to show that you knew or should have known where the drugs were located and that you had access to that location. 

In addition, the prosecution could lose its case if it forgets to present credible evidence as to the quantity and nature of the drugs discovered. In the example of marijuana found in a car trunk, the prosecution’s case would fail to show possession with intent if the amount of marijuana discovered was never established by credible evidence. 

Drug Trafficking Is a Serious Allegation — Challenge It 

Although being charged with drug trafficking can be an unsettling experience, keep in mind that an allegation does not prove anything. You can only be convicted by proof that establishes your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  

An experienced North Carolina drug trafficking lawyer can review the facts of your case with you and identify those elements of the prosecutor’s case that are most vulnerable. 

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