What Evidence is Required for a Drug Trafficking Conviction?

The crime of drug trafficking constitutes a broad spectrum of criminal activities. You could be charged with drug trafficking if you were manufacturing, cultivating, transporting, selling, or distributing drugs, as well as simply possessing them. This generalized blanket term allows the police to make more drug trafficking arrests and it can make it easier for the prosecution to land a conviction. But a conviction is never guaranteed. The State must still collect key pieces of evidence to use against you and prove that they are connected to your case.

There are four aspects of a prosecution’s case that usually must be established to secure a conviction:

  1. Possession: There must be some trace of an illegal substance in your possession, on your person, or within a confined space you control. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend against possession accusations by challenging the validity of the search and seizure that led to the arrest. Often times, it is discovered that the police had no proper warrant.
  2. Amount: If you are found to have an ounce or two of marijuana in your pocket, the prosecution would be hard-pressed to prove that you wanted to traffic it, rather than just use it for yourself. They will have to either locate a significant amount of illegal substances, or make a stretched claim that you had access to much more of the drugs.
  3. Intent: Assuming that the prosecution can show that you have drugs in your personal possession and more than a small amount, they will next need to prove that you had the intent to traffic it. They will need to look for physical evidence of sales or purchases, and perhaps correspondences between you and other interested parties.
  4. Movement: It is quite difficult to claim that drugs are being trafficked if they never move. You could have an entire garden of cannabis in your basement but never let it trade hands. If an illegal drug is not distributed, it should not be a trafficking violation; if anything, in the given scenario, you could be penalized for cultivation, which is a less serious crime.

Keep in mind that every criminal drug case is unique. In some instances, the prosecution will struggle and need to prove even more circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. In others, they are free to use generalizations and loosely connected assumptions to secure a conviction. The only constant between criminal cases is that the accused must be fully prepared to defend themselves.