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Drug charges follow arrest of former Memphis athlete

Memphis, Tennessee readers may be interested in recent news story about the former Memphis basketball star Shawne Williams. Unfortunately for Williams, he was recently arrested in Memphis on drug charges after a police officer approached his car.

The officer was on patrol when he claimed he smelled marijuana coming from Williams's Porsche. When the officer approached the car, Williams was asked to exit the vehicle. According the police report, Williams then told the officer that he had drugs in the car. The police also reported that they then found a partially smoked marijuana blunt and another unsmoked blunt, as well as a bottle of codeine cough syrup for which Williams did not have a prescription.

Williams was then arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, deliver or sell. The ex-NBA star posted a $10,000 bond the next day and was released from jail.

This story highlights how there are generally two main types of drug possession laws: simple possession for the person's own use and possession with intent to distribute. In either case, prosecutors must be able to prove that the person they arrested knew the drug was a controlled substance and that the person knowingly had possession of the drug.

Possession with intent to distribute is generally a more serious offense as a guilty finding typically results in more severe consequences than simple possession charges. The policy reasoning behind the stiffer penalties is to provide both punishment and deterrence for those involved in drug crimes. To prove possession with intent to sell, prosecutors will have to show convincing evidence that the person arrested was in fact trying to sell the drugs. In attempting to do so, prosecutors rely on evidence that may indicate a person's intent to package or transport the drugs, such as digital scales, baggies, large amounts of the drug, large sums of money in small bills or testimony from witnesses. Because of the seriousness of many drug charges, anyone accused of a drug crime should have the opportunity to present a defense against the charges.

Source: The Commercial Appeal, "Former Tiger basketball player Shawne Williams arrested in Raleigh on drug charges," Scott Carroll, Dec. 14, 2012

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