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What Are The Current Drug Distribution Penalties In Utah?


Any individual found to possess a large amount of illegal or controlled substances, or is caught sharing a prescription medication, could possibly be charged with drug distribution. Distribution charges are by far the worst charges to face because they may convey a prison time of up to 20 years, possibly even life in prison if the situation warrants.

It should be noted that drug distribution charges will often multiply any penalties one would typically face when charged with only possession of the illegal or controlled substance.

EXAMPLE: Possession of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, which dictates that the individual only be fined up to $1,000, and that they serve no more than 6 months in jail or prison. However, regarding marijuana distribution or the possession with intent to distribute, this is classified as a third-degree felony and can be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines.

When many people think of the distribution of drugs they envision the stereotypical person selling drugs on the street like cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin—illegal street drugs. But under current U.S. law, simply sharing prescription drugs with a friend, such as stimulants used to treat attention deficit disorder or opioids used to treat pain, can be classified as drug distribution. Many people do not know this so it is important to mention. And it is, to many people’s surprise, considered to be a second-degree felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine. If the offense happens to occur inside a designated drug-free zone then the charge can be increased to a first-degree felony, which carries a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of up to life in prison, and potentially up to $10,000 in fines.

An Overview Of Possession With Intent To Distribute In Utah

The classification of ‘Possession with Intent to Distribute’ is a version of Possession of a Controlled Substance but Possession with Intent to Distribute is much more serious. Holding any amount of marijuana that is less than 100 pounds has now been reduced to simply a misdemeanor, but possessing ANY amount of marijuana “with intent to distribute” will be classified as a third-degree felony. For detailed information on the specifics of the law, review Utah Statute 58-37-8(1)(a)(iii).

Why Was My Charge Classified As Possession With Intent To Distribute?

Often, there are myriad of reasons that could result in an individual being charged with ‘intent to distribute’ instead of the lesser charge of simple possession. In fact, simply the actual amount of drugs could be a determining factor. If any individual is found to be carrying or holding more than a normal ‘user’ would have for his or her own personal use, a charge of ‘intent to distribute’ may be levied.

In addition, ‘intent to distribute’ may be added on if the drug is found to be packaged for sale, such as in the small baggies that can often be seen discarded on city streets, or if the substance is discovered along with sales paraphernalia such as scales for measuring substances. As one might expect, the discovery of large amounts of cash might also lead prosecutors to add the extra ‘intent to distribute’ charge. If there is ever direct evidence of any distribution, the charge of ‘intent to distribute’ would not be assessed, but investigators or officers would then upgrade to a charge of actual ‘distribution.’

Read More: What Are The Common Drug Offenses That You Typically Handle?

NOTE: It is important to remember charges are only charges, and any charge brought in court must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, so every case is different depending on the amount of provable evidence that exists.

If I Arrange A Drug Deal, Can I Be Charged?

Under Utah criminal law there are additional penalties for individuals who have ‘offered’ or ‘arranged’ to actually distribute any controlled substance. The expanded statutory language used by the legislature has a broad interpretation that the courts can utilize which could include something as simple as telling someone where a dealer is located to assist them in the purchase of drugs, to telling a drug dealer how to get in touch with an interested buyer, or perhaps offering to meet someone somewhere at a specific location or time in order to conduct a drug transaction.

For more information on Current Drug Distribution Penalties In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.

Call Now To Schedule Your Consultation
(801) 455-1743