Federal laws, including the Controlled Substance Act, regulate the manufacturing, trafficking, and possession of drugs in the United States. Federal laws supersede state laws even though States have their own rules on drugs. Federal agencies collaborate with local and state law enforcement to effect control over substances regarded as harmful to society and people. The State of California allocates a significant workforce and money to intensify its war on drugs. Distribution, manufacture, possession, or cultivation of controlled substances is unlawful under California law. The dominantly controlled substances include ecstasy, marijuana, LSD, and cocaine. The penalties imposed on different drug crimes vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved. Where illicit drugs result in death or serious bodily injury, penalties increase significantly. If you face drug crime charges in Sacramento, California, the Foos Gavin Law Firm can help you create a convincing defense to fight the charges.
Common Drug Crimes In California
California has numerous laws on drugs and often imposes harsh penalties on anyone who violates them. It is advisable to seek the legal representation of an experienced attorney whenever you face any drug crime charge. The typical drug crimes in California are:
Possession Of A Controlled Substance
According to the Health and Safety Code 11350(a), possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor in California. Being in possession of a controlled substance in California does not only imply illegal narcotics. It also involves pharmaceutical drugs without a valid prescription. It is a violation of California Health and Safety Code 11350 to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. A drug qualifies to be a controlled substance if the Controlled Substance Act in the United States regulates its use, possession, or manufacture. Some prescription drugs that are considered to be controlled substances include:
- Vicodin (hydrocodone)
- Oxycontin (oxycodone)
If the prosecutor accuses you of possession of a controlled substance, he/she must demonstrate the following elements for you to face a conviction:
- You knew of the substance's presence
- The amount of the drug you possessed was usable
- You possessed a drug that qualifies as a controlled substance
- It was against the law for you to possess the controlled substance
Penalties For Possessing A Controlled Substance
According to California law, simple drug possession is a misdemeanor in most cases. However, the crime of possession of any amount of a controlled substance could still lead to a jail term of up to one year in county jail. You could face a fine that does not exceed $1000. You could also face felony charges for illegal possession of narcotics. This can only happen if you have served a prior conviction of a sex crime or a serious felony. You could face a jail term of up to three years if the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony.
Your drug possession defense lawyer can raise several defenses on your behalf. These include:
- Lack of knowledge of the presence of a controlled substance
- Momentary possession
- You are a victim of an illegal search or seizure
- Lack of control or possession of a drug or narcotic
- You had a valid prescription to possess a controlled substance
Possession Of A Controlled Substance For Sale
It is a severe crime in California if you are found guilty of possession for sale of a controlled substance. Possession for sale of a controlled substance is a felony crime under California Health and Safety Code section 11351 and victims who are charged can be sentenced to prison. Under HS 11351, the list of narcotics covered includes all drugs listed by the Federal Controlled Substance Act, such as:
- Hallucinogenic substances,
Possession of specific prescription drugs, such as oxycodone, could also lead to prosecution under Health and Safety code 11351. If the prosecutor accuses you of possession of a controlled substance for sale, he or she must prove the following elements:
- You had the intent to sell the drugs to other people, and you did not have a valid prescription.
- You knew the drug's nature as a controlled substance
- You possessed or purchased a controlled substance
- You had an adequate amount of the drug for sale
- You knew that you possessed the substance
How can the prosecutor prove your intent to sell the controlled substance?
Some of the ways the prosecutor can employ to prove that you had possessed a controlled substance with intention to sell include:
- The presence of sales paraphernalia such as a scale to weigh the drugs, large amounts of money, baggies, scales
- Presence of many different people at your home at all hours of the day, spending only a few minutes
- You possessed a significant amount of the drug that would not be reasonably considered the quantity for only personal use
It is also important to note that the prosecutor does not have to prove an actual drug sale existed to charge you with possession with intent to sell under HS 11351. The factors the prosecutor will consider to tell between possessing drugs for sale and drug possession for personal use include:
- Absence or presence of drug paraphernalia
- The quantity of the controlled substance you possessed
- Whether you were under the influence when the police arrested you
- The packaging of the controlled substance
Penalties Of Possessing A Controlled Substance For Sale
The penalties for a victim who face the charges under this section include:
- Felony probation and up to one year in a county jail
- A fine not exceeding $20,000
- A jail time of two, three, or four years in a county jail
You will be required to complete substance abuse classes, meet with a probation officer monthly, and complete community service hours if placed on felony probation. You will also be ineligible for a drug diversion program if you are convicted for drug sales. You could also face sentence enhancement if you possess substantial amounts of narcotic substances for sale.
Some of the legal defenses you could use to defend yourself are:
- You did not possess the controlled substance
- You had no intent to sell the controlled substance
- The police subjected you to illegal search and seizure
- You had no knowledge that you possessed the controlled substance
Sale and Transportation Of Controlled Substances
The California Health and Safety code 11352 define selling and transporting controlled substances as follows:
- You gave the substance away
- You furnished or administered the drugs to other people
- You sold the controlled substance
- You imported it into California
- You transported it for sale
The elements that the prosecutor must prove to charge you with the sale and transportation of controlled substances include:
- You knew the drug’s nature as a controlled substance
- You sold, gave away, furnished, administered, imported into California, or transported for sale the controlled substance
- You had a useable amount of the controlled substance
- You knew, or you were aware of the drug’s presence
Under Health and Safety Code 11352, it is a crime to sell or transport the following controlled substances in California:
- Gamma-hydroxybutyric (GHB)
- Opiates and opiate derivatives
- Certain prescription drugs such as codeine and hydrocodone
Moving the drugs from one location to another, even for a short distance, is transporting controlled substances. Under California law, you are only guilty of transporting controlled substances if you show the intention of selling the substance. You must also transport a significant quantity of the substance to be guilty of transporting a controlled substance for sale.
Penalties For Violation Of HS 11352
Under California law, it is a felony crime to sell or transport controlled substances. You could face the following penalties if you are found guilty:
- You could face three, six, or nine years in jail if you transport a controlled substance for sale across two counties
- A formal or felony probation
- A hefty fine of up to $20,000
- Three, four, or five years in a county jail under the realignment program in California
If the court confirms the following statements to be accurate, you will not qualify for a suspended sentence or a sentence to felony probation:
- You have a previous conviction for offering or selling any controlled substance, and you offered or sold cocaine
- Your conviction involves offering or selling more than 14.25 grams of a controlled substance that contains a heroine
Through your attorney, you can challenge your charges for sale and transportation of controlled substances as follows:
- A victim of police misconduct
- Lack of knowledge that what you possessed was a controlled substance
- You are a victim of illegal search and seizure
- A victim of police entrapment
Under the Influence Of A Controlled Substance
It is a crime under Health and Safety code 11550 in California for an individual to be under the influence of a narcotic drug or a controlled substance. If the prosecutor accuses you of this crime, he or she must prove the following elements:
- The defendant was willfully under the influence of the said drug or substance
- The victim willfully consumed a controlled substance or narcotic drug
Substances and narcotics such as hydrocodone, heroin, codeine, and methamphetamines are subject to this jurisdiction. Marijuana is exempted from this law because California’s marijuana laws regulate the use and possession of marijuana. The court can only convict defendants under this law if they consume a controlled substance on purpose or willingly. The prosecutor cannot charge a victim if another person forces him or her to ingest the controlled substance or drug.
A victim is said to be under the influence of a controlled substance if he or she is adversely affected in the nervous system, muscles, physically, mentally, or brain-wise. A defendant does not need to engage in misconduct or to be impaired by the drug to face conviction under this law. The HS 11550 reveals that the victim is under the influence if they have a detectable level of drugs in their system.
In California, when the law enforcers arrest a defendant for being under the influence, they often involve a drug recognition expert (DRE). The expert will examine the victim and reveal to the police if he or she is under the influence of a controlled substance.
Penalties Under HS 11550
It is a misdemeanor crime under California law for any person to be under the influence of drugs. The judge could sentence you to one year in county jail. At times, you could be sent for a drug diversion program. Only non-violent drug victims are eligible for this program because it allows them to serve a sentence in a drug treatment program rather than doing a jail term.
You could face negative immigration consequences if you are found guilty of being under the influence of drugs. If you are a non-U.S citizen, you could be marked as inadmissible in the U.S or deported.
If the prosecutor accuses you of being under the influence of a controlled substance, you could use the following defenses to fight your charges:
- You did not willingly consume the drug
- You were not under the influence of drugs
- You can allege that a licensed person such as a doctor administered the drug
Possession Of Methamphetamines
It is a crime under HS 11377(a) in California to possess several different drugs, including meth, for your personal use. If a physician of some kind requires it, possession may also be excused. The other terms used to refer to meth in California include crystal, chalk, ice, blow, speed, or crank. The court may convict you if you possess meth without a valid prescription.
Meth is produced in different forms such as rock, pills, crystal, and powder. It is a stimulant used to speed the body and brain. You can utilize meth by swallowing, snorting, smoking, and injection. As early as the 1950s, meth was consumed by truckers, athletes, and college students to keep them alert and awake. Currently, it is unlawful to consume meth in California because it is considered harmful, and it's only allowable to patients suffering from conditions like obesity and ADHD.
The prosecutor must prove the following elements to charge you with possession of meth:
- You possessed a significant amount of meth to use as a drug
- You were aware it was a controlled substance
It is a misdemeanor crime to possess meth in California. Some of the penalties you could face include:
- A fine that does not exceed $1,000
- A jail term of up to one year in a county jail
The court could also charge you with felony and impose an enhanced jail term of 16 months, two years, or three years for possessing meth if the judge confirms that:
- You have a prior charge of a sex crime that requires you to register as a sex offender in California
- You have a prior conviction of a serious felony like sexually violent crimes, sex crimes against a minor below 14 years, murder, and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
You can challenge your possession of meth charges as follows:
- Meth belonged to another person
- You were taking the meth to another person who has a prescription for the drug.
- You had a valid prescription to possess meth.
- The police discovered meth through an illegal search
Possession of Marijuana For Sale
It is unlawful under HS 11359 in California for a person to possess bhang (marijuana) for sale. However, on January 1, 2018, the recreational use of marijuana was legalized. The HS 11359 statute only prohibits the possession of marijuana for sale. If the prosecutor charges you with possessing the drug for sale, he or she must prove the following elements:
- You knew of the substance’s nature as a controlled substance
- You knew of the marijuana’s presence
- You intended to sell the marijuana illegally
- You possessed marijuana
The court cannot convict you for possession of marijuana for sale if the drug you possessed was not marijuana. To be guilty of the charges, you must have a usable amount of marijuana. There should be a significant amount of marijuana to be used as a controlled substance.
Penalties For Possessing Marijuana For Sale
Often, possession of marijuana for sale in California is a misdemeanor offense. You could face a jail term that does not exceed six months and a fine not exceeding $500. Additionally, you could face felony penalties for possession of marijuana for sale if the judge confirms the following:
- That the defendant has two or more previous convictions for the possession of marijuana for sale
- That the defendant possessed marijuana for sale in connection with selling the drug to a person below 18 years
- That the defendant has a prior conviction for a serious felony or a sex crime that requires him or her to register as a sex offender
If any of the above factors are true, the judge could convict you for six months, two years, or three years in county jail. You could also be deemed ineligible for a drug diversion program if you possess marijuana with intent to sell. The diversion program is only allowable for the simple possession of large quantities of marijuana instead of a jail term. You could also be handed probation instead of a jail term. If the judge grants you probation, you will have to observe the set probation conditions.
Your drug attorney could help you fight your charges as follows:
- You intended to share the marijuana with your friends and not sell
- You are a victim of illegal search and seizure
- The marijuana was for personal use
- You intended to dispose of the marijuana
- You did not know about the presence of marijuana
- You are a primary caregiver to a marijuana patient, and the marijuana you possessed belonged to them
Possessing Materials For Manufacture Of A Controlled Substance
It is unlawful under HS 11383 to possess materials to use them to manufacture Phencyclidine (PCP). The prosecutor must prove the following elements to charge you of this offense:
- When you possessed the materials, you intended to use them to manufacture PCP
- You possessed certain chemicals that can be used to manufacture PCP
Penalties For Violating HS 11383
It is a felony in California to possess materials to manufacture a controlled substance. If the court finds you guilty of this crime, you could face the following penalties:
- A fine of $10,000
- A jail term of up to six years in a county jail
Prior convictions on your criminal record could lead you to face enhanced penalties.
You can challenge your charges under HS 11383 in court by arguing that:
- You did not possess the said chemicals
- The police subjected you to unlawful search and seizure
- No intention to manufacture PCP
Manufacturing A Controlled Substance
It is unlawful according to California HS 11379.6 to manufacture a controlled substance. The drugs that fall under this jurisdiction include ecstasy, opiates, and cocaine. The prosecutor could only charge you of this crime if he or she proves the following elements:
- You knew the substance’s nature as a narcotic
- You compounded, prepared, or manufactured a narcotic
Regardless of whether the drug is a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, any drug regulated under the U.S Controlled Substance Act is a controlled substance. The prosecutor could charge you if he or she proves that you knew that the substance you were producing is a controlled substance. The manufacturing process does not have to go to completion for a defendant to face the charges.
Penalties For Manufacturing A Controlled Substance
It is a felony in California for any person to manufacture a controlled substance. You could face the following penalties:
- A hefty fine of $50,000
- A jail term of three, five, or seven years in a county jail
With the help of your attorney, you could present your defenses in court against HS 11379.6 charges as follows:
- The police subjected you to unlawful search and seizure
- The police subjected you to entrapment
- You only took preparatory acts in the manufacturing process
Other Drug Crimes
Other drug crimes under California law include:
- Operating a drug house under HS 11366
- Possessing materials for the manufacture of meth under HS 11383.5
- Renting space for distribution of a controlled substance under HS 11366.5
- Personal possession of meth under HS 11377
- Manufacture of imitation controlled substances under HS 109575
- Sale of synthetic stimulants under HS 11375.5
- Sale of synthetic cannabis under HS 11357.5
Find Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
For reliable legal assistance in fighting drug crime charges in Sacramento,California, you should contact Foos Gavin Law Firm. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and assist you in creating a solid defense. Contact us immediately when investigations for your drug crime begin. Contact us at 916-779-3500 and speak to one of our attorneys.