PWIT: What Does It Mean and How Can It Affect You?
Posted on Nov 20, 2013 in Drugs, Local Issues
PWIT? What does it mean? It stands for Possession With Intent to Distribute. Today Bloom Legal will discuss a charge of PWIT as it pertains to marijuana under La. R.S. 40:966: Penalty for distribution or possession with intent to distribute narcotic drugs listed in Schedule I; possession of marijuana, possession of synthetic cannabinoids.
Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute is a felony charge in Louisiana and is subject to harsh sentencing guidelines, even for first time offenders. The statute provides that it is unlawful for anyone to knowingly and intentionally produce, manufacture, distribute or dispense of marijuana with the intention to produce it, manufacture it, distribute it, or dispense it. The law even applies to the distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or production of counterfeit or synthetic cannabinoids. The reality is that anyone found in violation of this statute could be sentenced to imprisonment of hard labor for not less than 5 years, or not more than 30 years, and to pay a fine of not more than 50,000.00.
A charge for possession of marijuana may carry a lesser sentence, depending upon certain factors. If you are a first time offender, than you would likely be convicted of a misdemeanor charge with a sentence of less than 6 months imprisonment in a parish prison and/or a fine of not more than $600.00. However, there may be mitigating or aggravating circumstances which could increase or decrease the sentencing of possession. For instance, second and third offenders may be convicted as felons. So while possession is considered a lesser charge than a PWIT, it may also have substantial consequences.
In the State of Louisiana a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. It is the burden of the District Attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed marijuana and possessed it with the intent to distribute. Yet, this is a very small burden. Courts have found that when a defendant possessed approximately two ounces of marijuana packed in small, black plastic baggies, and that additional baggies were present, this was sufficient evidence to convict him on a PWIT charge. State v. Brown, App. 2 Cir.2000, 779 So.2d 847, 34,131 (La.App. 2 Cir. 12/6/00). So, even a defendant with small quantities of marijuana can be found guilty of a PWIT charge.
However, sentencing increases when there is evidence of large quantities being distributed. For example, a defendant found with 2,000 pounds or more of marijuana faces a sentence of imprisonment of hard labor for not less than 10 years, and not more than 40 years plus a fine of not less than $100,000 and not more than 400,000.00.
A PWIT marijuana charge is not to be taken lightly, and can lead to serious convictions with lengthy jail time and large fines. Bloom Legal, LLC intends this blog post merely as an informative and educational insight into the legal aspects of a PWIT charge.
If you are seeking a criminal lawyer or need legal help then please call our office at 504-599-9997 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further legal advice.