How Do Prosecutors Prove Intent to Deliver in PA PWID Charges?

If the police find you in possession of marijuana or controlled substances in Pennsylvania, you will at the very least likely be facing possession charges, which are often a misdemeanor. But when prosecutors decide to charge you possession with intent to deliver (PWID), you are facing far more serious felony charges which can mean years in prison. In addition, your family may be evicted from home if the conviction relates to possession within the immediate vicinity of your home. That said, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of PWID to reach a conviction, and one aspect of this is proving that you did indeed have intent to distribute the drugs in question. Understanding how prosecutors can prove this intent and how you can raise a valid defense with the assistance of an experienced attorney can thus be critical to defending your freedom.

Main Strategies for Proving Intent in PA

There are two central strategies that prosecutors often use in attempting to show that you had the requisite intent for a PWID charge: 1) statements or other actions which expressly indicate your intent to distribute (or create a strong implication); or 2) the amount of drugs in your possession, depending on the type found on you.

For example, if a witness heard you make plans with another individual to deliver the drugs to that person, that witness may testify against you by repeating those statements in court. A witness may also testify to witnessing you take actions that suggest an intent to deliver, such as showing the drugs to a known drug purchaser. In court, your attorney can cross-examine the witness to cast doubt on the sufficiency or accuracy of the evidence as well introduce evidence calling into question the truthfulness of the witness.

With regard to the amount of drugs in your possession, prosecutors can create a presumption of intent by introducing evidence that you had enough drugs to imply that it was not all for your personal use. Under PA law, the minimum amounts that will allow for this inference are:

  • 2 pounds of marijuana
  • 2 grams of cocaine
  • 5 grams of methamphetamine
  • 1 gram of heroin
  • 2 grams of other Schedule 1 or 2 narcotics

As those numbers go up, so can your potential sentence for PWID if convicted.

Putting Up Your Best Defense to PWID

While the introduction of evidence of the amount of a controlled substance in your possession can create an inference which allows a jury to convict you of PWID, your defense attorney can also pursue strategies to defeat this tactic by prosecutors, including:

  • Calling into question whether the police used constitutional methods to detain you, arrest you, or search your person or your property for the drugs
  • Creating doubt over whether you had knowledge of the nature of the drugs in your possession
  • Cross-examining witnesses regarding the accuracy of their statements
  • Impeaching the credibility of witnesses
  • Questioning the purported amount of drugs attributed to your possession
  • Asserting the argument that you intended to keep the drugs for your personal use
  • Entrapment by law enforcement (including through informants)


These are just a few of the potential strategies your attorney can take to reduce a PWID charge to a simple misdemeanor possession offense or work towards a dropped investigation or not guilty verdict. By speaking with an experienced defense attorney, you can determine what strategies are best in your particular matter.

Speak with a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with or are under investigation for any drug-related crime in Pennsylvania, The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today to discuss your circumstances.

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