Among the many criminal reform bills on the table, Oklahoma lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would change the definition of possession with intent to distribute, otherwise known as a PWID. The lack of a definition has caused PWID charges to increase by 20 percent. It’s a problem some lawmakers say has been happening since simple possession charges were dropped to a misdemeanor from a felony. Senate Bill 421 would change that and provide clear definitions for a PWID charge.
Current PWID Definitions
Possession with intent to distribute is a much more serious charge than simple possession. As such, it carries much heavier penalties, including fines from $1,000 to $100,000 and possible prison time of five years to life. The penalties levied are largely dependent on the drug involved in the crime.
The problem with the current PWID law is that there is no clear definition of what is considered intent to distribute. Many people mistakenly believe that this charge only applies when someone is caught in the act of selling drugs. This, however, isn’t true.
In fact, the statute 63 OS Section 2-401 doesn’t mention selling a drug at all. It does mention distributing, dispensing, transporting, and manufacturing, but does not specifically include the word “sell.” This leaves the charge largely at the discretion of law enforcement.
In some instances, these circumstances aren’t even present. If a person is found to have a large amount of drugs on them, even if it was all for personal use, law enforcement can still charge that person with PWID. And, if people in a group are sharing a joint and one person passes it to another, they have just distributed the drug. For doing so, they could face PWID charges.
Senate Bill 421 hopes to change this.
PWID Definitions Under the Proposed Law
If the latest bill is passed, a person possessing fewer than four grams of any drug cannot face PWID charges. If the prosecution still wishes to lay PWID charges, they must show that at least three of seven other circumstances were included in the crime.
When introducing the bill into the legislator, Senator Stephanie Bice stated that taking away some discretion of judges and prosecutors will limit the amount of ‘over-charging’ that is happening within the justice system.
Need Help with a Drug Charge? Speak to an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Although simple possession is not considered as serious as possession with intent to distribute, both charges still carry harsh penalties. Anyone charged with these crimes must speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Oklahoma City who can help.
At Banks, Gillett, Gillett PLLC, we understand that anyone face drug charges is frightened, and most likely concerned about their future. We want to help make that future a bit brighter by creating a solid defense against drug charges, allowing more people to retain their freedom. If you or someone you love has been charged with a drug crime, call us at (405) 607-4800 or fill out our online form to learn more. We offer free consultations and want to get started on your case right away so contact us today!