If you’ve been charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi, there are some things you need to know.
Mississippi Code Section 41-29-139 makes it a felony crime to “sell, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess with intent to sell barter, transfer, distribute or dispense” marijuana.
The penalties for possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi are severe. If the amount of marijuana involved is less than 30 grams, the potential sentence is three (3) years in prison, and a $3,000.00 fine. In the case of a first offender who is charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute more than 30 grams, but less than 1 kilogram or marijuana, the potential sentence is twenty (20) years in prison, and a fine of $30,000.00. In all other cases, the potential sentence is thirty (30) years in prison, and a fine of $5,000.00 (minimum) to $1,000,000.00 (maximum).
In Mississippi, the State must prove that the accused possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute. Intent must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes there is direct evidence of intent, such as where a person who has agreed to deliver marijuana to an informant is arrested on the way to make the delivery. Most cases, however, are based on circumstantial evidence.
Under Mississippi law, the State may try to prove that a person had the intent to sell or distribute by showing that the amount of the marijuana in the person’s possession is proof of intent to sell. In order to charge and convict a person based upon the amount of marijuana, Mississippi prosecutors must prove that the amount of marijuana in his possession exceeded the amount that would be reasonable for personal use. Mississippi law states that if the amount of marijuana could just as likely be for personal use, as it was for sell or distribution, then the person cannot be convicted of possession with intent. The proper charge in such a case would be simple possession of marijuana.
In addition to the amount of marijuana, Mississippi law states that the packaging of the marijuana as well as other evidence of drug trafficking may be used to show possession with intent to sell or distribute.
In Mississippi, it is seldom easy for the State to prove possession with intent based upon the weight and packaging of marijuana. The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that where a defendant was caught with 323.4 grams of marijuana, two (2) scales, a device used to hold marijuana, rolling papers, and $356.00 in cash, there was insufficient evidence of intent to sell or distribute. The Court stated that the amount of marijuana was within the amount that a person could reasonably use, and that the holding device and rolling papers were consistent with using marijuana, not selling it. Jowers v. State, 593 So.2d 46 (Miss. 1992). Instead of possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana, the defendant could only be convicted of simple possession of marijuana. This is significant, as the penalties for simple possession are much less than those for possession with intent.
If you have been charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi, there are defenses available. You need a criminal defense lawyer to handle your case and protect your interests. Please call Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 for a free consultation. For more information, please feel free to visit our Mississippi criminal defense website.