There are four basic types of drug crimes:

  1. Possession
  2. Distribution
  3. Use
  4. Manufacture

Each crime has different standards and carries different penalties.

What Is Possession of an Illegal Drug?

A person can be found guilty of possession of illegal drugs if they:

  • Knowingly obtain illegal drugs
  • Fail to get rid of illegal drugs after realizing they had them
  • Is in the vicinity of illegal drugs

You can be criminally charged for possession of illegal drugs even if you were merely holding drugs for a friend. “Ownership” of drugs does not necessarily determine possession.

What Is Distribution of an Illegal Drug?

A person who sells or, in some instances, simply gives out illegal narcotics, can be charged with distribution. Most states also have statutes that prohibit the intent to sell narcotics. Intent to sell is proved through various factors, including the circumstances surrounding possession and the testimony of police officers.

Additionally, many states have laws making "aiding and abetting" distribution of narcotics illegal. Basically, this means a person who knowingly holds narcotics for a friend may be charged with aiding and abetting the distribution of illegal substances if the friend sells the narcotics.

Some states also have laws that impose greater penalties for distributing illegal drugs to minors (individuals under 18 years old).

What Is Use of an Illegal Drug?

Most substances that are unlawful to possess or distribute are also unlawful to use. This pertains to illegal narcotics as well as prescriptive drugs that were not obtained in a lawful manner.

What Is Considered to Be the Manufacture of an Illegal Drug?

Manufacture encompasses all methods by which illegal narcotics can be created, including purification and conversion of legal drugs into an illegal drug.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Charged with a Drug Crime?

Drug crimes can carry very serious penalties. A criminal defense lawyer can help you mount a defense against the charges. A criminal lawyer’s knowledge of your state’s laws and experience may prove vital to your case.