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What counts as possession with intent to supply?

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The news is always full of stories about people facing drug offence charges for possession with intent to supply.

However, it is not always clear where possession of drugs crosses the line into possession with intent to supply. Possession is a criminal offence, but often has less serious consequences than intent to supply. For example, it could mean the difference between getting a caution and being criminally prosecuted and imprisoned.

The police and prosecution will often rely on evidence such as:

  • Phone records and text messages
  • Statements made by the suspect during police interview
  • Drugs or paraphernalia found on the suspect, in their home or in their car
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Witness evidence or CCTV
  • ‘Client’ lists and written details of deals and money owed

In any case, the advice of a specialist drugs offences solicitor is essential. They can obtain and examine the evidence and make representations to the police and Crown Prosecution Service (the CPS) on the suspect’s behalf.

Often, it is possible to get the charges of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs down to possession or even to get the charges dropped altogether.

What is possession with intent to supply?

Possession with intent to supply is a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. As the name suggests, it is a crime to have a controlled drug in your possession with the intention to supply it to someone else.

There is no need for the actual supply to take place to prosecute someone for this offence. Only that they had intention to supply.

What is a ‘controlled drug’?

Controlled drugs are legally restricted because they have been deemed capable of causing serious issues or harm. Here is a non-exhaustive list of controlled drugs. Some controlled drugs are medicines that can be obtained lawfully, for example, if you have a prescription for strong painkillers from a medical professional.

Being lawfully in possession of controlled drugs is not a crime. However, it can become a crime if you supply them or intend to supply them to someone else.

What is ‘supply’?

Supply is simply the act of passing or giving a controlled drug to someone else. There is no need for there to be any evidence of a ‘deal’, financial exchange or profit from the supply.

So, supply can range from simply passing a joint to a friend at a party to a large scale, organised drug ring involving millions of pounds worth of drugs.

Because of this, when someone is arrested on suspicion of drugs charges, it is common to accidentally say the wrong thing like, “I just gave them to a friend to look after”, not realising that they may actually be admitting to supplying drugs.

This is why it is essential to talk to a criminal defence solicitor before saying anything to the police. Your solicitor can advise you on the allegations and what you should and should not say while in custody.

How does the CPS decide whether to charge with possession or possession with intent to supply?

Where there is any evidence of supplying or possessing drugs with intent to supply, the prosecution may choose this offence over a simple possession charge.

When deciding whether there is intent to supply, the prosecution will consider evidence such as:

  • Possession of a large quantity of drugs that would suggest more than just possession for personal use
  • Possession of uncut or pure drugs that may have been obtained recently from their manufacturer or importer
  • Possession of lots of different types of drugs
  • Evidence that the drugs have been prepared for sale, e.g. cut into small portions and wrapped in individual bags or foils
  • Being in possession of drug related equipment, such as weighing scales and cutting agents
  • Written documents, such as lists of customers’ names and details of drugs and money owed
  • Possession of large amounts of money or evidence that the suspect lives an extravagant lifestyle

What are the penalties for possession with intention to supply?

If convicted, sentencing will depend on a number of factors, including the quantity of drugs involved, the offender’s role (e.g. whether they had a leading role or they were following instructions), and the potential harm. The Sentencing Guidelines for Drug Offences outline the ranges of sentences you can get for possession with intent to supply cases. The maximum penalties and the offence ranges are:

  • Possession with intent to supply Class A drugs:
    • Maximum sentence: life imprisonment
    • Offence range: community order – 16 years’ custody
  • Possession with intent to supply Class B drugs:
    • Maximum sentence: 14 years’ custody and/or an unlimited fine
    • Offence range: fine – 10 years’ custody
  • Possession with intent to supply Class C drugs:
    • Maximum sentence: 14 years’ custody and/or an unlimited fine
    • Offence range: fine – 8 years’ custody

Accused of possession with intent to supply? Speak to our expert drug offence solicitors

We are dedicated criminal defence lawyers with years of experience helping people facing possession with intent to supply Class A drug charges.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for or charged with possession with intent to supply, get in touch with our criminal defence solicitors for urgent specialist advice and immediate representation.

Standard enquiries:    0333 600 9222 (National rates)

Out of hours:               07850 899999 (Out of hours)

Email:                          enquiries@abrsolicitors.com

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