Is Offering to Distribute Drugs Illegal?

Drug use has long been associated with crimes, meaning people believe that consuming and/or distributing controlled substances is linked to violent behavior. For instance, if a person is addicted to heroin or some other drug, they might commit robbery to get the money to fund their addiction. Or, someone who sells drugs might illegally obtain and use a firearm to threaten a buyer into paying.

And while the debate about the causal relationship between drugs and crimes continues, the connection has informed current legislation, with many laws allowing harsh penalties for controlled substances-related offenses. Additionally, law enforcement officials and prosecutors take such matters seriously, aggressively pursuing them to convict a person allegedly involved in a drug crime.

Fierce prosecution of drug crimes entails not only offenses that have actually been completed but also those that someone has agreed to undertake. Thus, even if a person merely offers or agrees to distribute drugs, they can be penalized as severely as someone who actually carries out the act.

Utah's Drug Distribution Statute

Under Utah Code § 58-37-8, it is illegal for a person to knowingly and intentionally deliver drugs. But the statute does not only prohibit the actual act of drug distribution. It specifically states that a person commits an offense when they "agree, consent, offer, or arrange to distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance." In other words, someone simply saying that they will sell drugs is enough to result in a prosecutor filing a criminal charge.

The Penalties for Offering to Distribute Drugs

Some people might believe that merely agreeing or offering to distribute drugs isn't as serious as actually selling them to another. After all, the substances were never delivered to anyone else.

However, Utah law does not see it this way. Any person who says they will distribute a drug or drugs faces the same penalties as someone who completes the crime.

Just as with actual drug distribution, the punishments for offering to deliver drugs depend on the type of substance involved and the alleged offender's criminal history.

If the substance involved was a Schedule I or II drug, the potential conviction penalties are as follows:

  • First offense (second-degree felony):
    • Up to 15 years in prison and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Second or subsequent offense (first-degree felony):
    • Up to life in prison and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines

If the drug was a Schedule III or IV substance or marijuana, a conviction can lead to the following penalties:

  • First offense (third-degree felony):
    • Up to 5 years in prison and/or
    • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Second or subsequent offense (second-degree felony):
    • Up to 15 years in prison and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines

If the defendant offered to distribute a Schedule V drug, they may be penalized as follows:

  • First offense (class A misdemeanor):
    • Up to 364 days in jail and/or
    • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Second or subsequent offense (third-degree felony):
    • Up to 5 years in prison and/or
    • Up to $5,000 in fines

If you've been accused of distributing or offering to distribute drugs, you need a lawyer on your side who will aggressively defend you.

At Lokken & Associates, P.C., our Salt Lake City attorneys are prepared to challenge the accusations made against you. Call us at (801) 829-9783 or contact us online today.