Drug Distribution -- UCMJ Article 112a

The wrongful distribution of a controlled substance is a more serious charge under UCMJ Article 112a than simple possession or use.  To "distribute" means to deliver the possession to another. 

Controlled substances include any substance which is included in Schedules I through V established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 812).  Common examples include:  amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy/MDMA, heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, methamphetamine, and opium.

Even if the distribution is not a "sale," and no money exchanges hands, there can still be a prosecution for distribution under Article 112a.  This type of case is often called "social distribution".

Although most simple use or possession cases are now handled via administrative action, most distribution cases are referred to courts-martial.  There are various aggravating factors that can make drug distribution cases very serious.  Distribution aboard a military base, distributing for profit, or distribution of large quanities of controlled substances can often lead to "felony level" general court-martial prosecutions.   
Before the convening authority can refer a distribution case to a general court-martial, the command must first conduct an Article 32 Investigation.  

Given the serious nature of drug distribution cases, representation by an experienced military lawyer can be even more important for the just resolution of the case than it may be for a simple use or possession case.  The stakes are usually higher, and when a client desires settlement, there is often more room to negotiate  in distribution cases.  In contested drug distribution courts-martial, the witnesses for the government often have significant areas in their past that are ripe for cross-examination.  The art of effectively cross-examining witnesses is a skill that usually takes military lawyers years to develop.  Consequently, retaining a civilian military lawyer can be a wise decision in a drug distribution court-martial.

If you would like to discuss your drug distribution case with a skilled military lawyer, Jeff Meeks and Bruce White have over 45 years of experience with these types of cases.  Call now for your free consultation.

Manual for Courts-Martial (2012)