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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

What’s the difference between trafficking and possession?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Drug Charges

You took a chance, and you got busted with drugs – so you’re naturally concerned with the legal repercussions ahead. 

What happens next depends a lot on how you’re ultimately charged. Depending upon the circumstances, you can be charged with simple possession of drugs or drug trafficking, and there’s a big difference in the possible consequences.

What is drug possession?

Simple drug possession is the most basic charge you can face – and it means merely having a controlled substance in your possession illegally, whether that’s a handful of painkillers or a couple of marijuana edibles in your pocket. In general, this is the charge you’ll receive if the quantity in your possession is small and seems like it is just for your personal use.

What is drug trafficking?

Trafficking generally involves the specific intention to manufacture, distribute or sell drugs. Since you’re (hopefully) not going to express this intention to the authorities, your intentions are usually inferred through circumstantial evidence such as:

  • The fact that you have a large quantity of drugs in your possession that seems to large for one person’s private “stash”
  • You have packaging materials, such as baggies or rolling papers, that could be used to split the drugs up for resale
  • You were spotted communicating with buyers or exchanging drugs for cash by witnesses or the police

The reality is that drug possession gets incorrectly charged as drug trafficking all the time, often based on little evidence. Since the consequences for drug trafficking can involve significant prison time, it’s important to invoke your rights and explore all your defense options.