Drug Possession Versus Intent to Distribute | O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Attorneys

Drug Possession Versus Intent to Distribute

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If you are found with drugs, there are several crimes with which you may be charged.  The crimes of drug possession and intent to distribute are two different crimes with different levels of punishment.  Depending on the drug, the level of offense and punishment can vary significantly.  Generally, the crime of possession with intent to deliver leads to felony charges, while possession may be a misdemeanor depending on the drug and criminal history of the defendant.


Individuals may be charged with possession when law enforcement discovers drugs in that person’s possession, which may be on their person, in their vehicle, in their home, or other place where the individual has control and possession.

In North Dakota, possession of a marijuana could lead to a class B misdemeanor.  Class B misdemeanors are subject to a maximum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment, a $1,500 fine, or both.  Possession of a different controlled substance like methamphetamine could lead to a class A misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class C felony for any subsequent offenses.   Class A misdemeanors may result in a maximum penalty of 360 days imprisonment, a $3,000 fine, or both.  In contrast, a class C felony carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.  These offenses are also subject to increased penalties for aggravating factors, like possessing a controlled substance at or near a school, or if the offense involves a large amount of the substance.

Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute or deliver is a more serious crime.  Under the statute, “deliver” or “delivery” means the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer from one person to another of a controlled substance.  Possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute can lead to a will typically result in a felony charge in North Dakota.

Typically, intent to distribute charges involve an individual found to possess a significant amount of a controlled substance and other indications of intent to distribute, such as scales, packaging materials, paraphernalia, and large amounts of cash.  As noted above, charges relating to intent to distribute may also carry increased charges for aggravating factors.  Although the penalties vary depending on the specific factual scenario, if convicted, these crimes carry serious penalties.

As more and more states modify their criminal drug statutes, these crimes and the associated penalties may continue to change.  If you have been charged with these or similar crimes and could use the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys in Fargo, North Dakota to discuss your case or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.