Possession of illegal drugs with an intent to distribute is a serious offense punished by both state and federal laws. To understand how this crime is defined in North Carolina, it helps to know that this offense requires two components. First, an individual charged with this offense must have the drugs in possession, and secondly, the person must intend to sell or otherwise distribute this substance.

According to FindLaw, possession can be defined in a number of ways. A person may have the drugs in their clothing or in a piece of luggage. More broadly, the drugs may be considered in your possession if they are within your sphere of control. Drugs contained in the home or vehicle of a person are typical examples. Prosecutors also charge people with possession if the individuals should have known that illegal substances were in their possession.

When a person actually possesses the drugs dictates when a charge of possession with intent to distribute can be levied. An individual has to already have the drugs at the same time he or she wishes to distribute the substances to other people. So for instance, if a person plans to sell off crystal meth but has not actually received the meth, the person cannot be charged with intent to distribute because the person did not possess the drugs.

This matter of timing is important when mounting a defense against a charge of possession with intent to distribute. However, anyone in this position should know that the state could still bring other charges. Even if a person never received a package of illegal substances, a prosecutor may bring charges of conspiracy to possess with an intent to distribute, or other related charges of conspiracy.

Conspiracy charges are a serious matter. According to North Carolina law, drug offenses, including possession with intent to distribute, are punishable as felonies. In addition, conspiracies to commit these acts are punished in the same manner. This makes defense against any aspect of a drug charge crucial to avoid serious penalties and jail time.