Being convicted of concealing drugs in a false compartment can result in life-altering penalties like lengthy sentences, steep fines, and a permanent criminal record, which could affect future employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Therefore, you should hire an experienced and knowledgeable Sacramento lawyer if you have been arrested for this drug crime. The attorney can listen to you to understand the charges and fight to get your case dropped or reduced to a lesser offense.

Defining Concealing Drugs in a False Compartment

California Health and Safety Code Section 11366.8 HS entails using false compartments to hide controlled substances. This law makes it illegal for defendants to engage in two things.

First, it is an offense per HS 11366.8 (a) to:

  • Possess, control, or use a false compartment,
  • Intending to store, smuggle, transport, or hide drugs in it.

Second, HS 11366.8(b) makes it illegal to:

  • Alter, build, install, attach, or design a false compartment in your motor vehicle.
  • Intending to store, smuggle, transport, or hide controlled substances.

Defining Key Legal Terms

The section below discusses significant legal terms and phrases to help you understand this statute better.

  1. False Compartment

A false compartment can be a space, enclosure, container, or box tailored to or intended to hide drugs.

  1. A Vehicle

Examples of vehicles include the following:

  1. Trucks.
  2. Cars.
  3. Aircraft.
  4. Buses.
  5. Ships.
  6. Yachts.
  7. Boats.

It can be commercial or private.

  1.  Controlled Substances

A controlled substance is a substance or drug that the government controls because it can cause addiction or be abused. Both state and federal governments regulate the substances by restricting or forbidding their accessibility to the public. The control applies to how individuals manufacture, handle, store, distribute, and use the substances.

There are five categories of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, namely:

  1. Schedule I substances are more likely to be abused and do not have a recognized medical use. They include LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, peyote, heroin, cannabinoids, and hallucinogens.
  2. Schedule II drugs are likely to be abused. Their use can result in severe physical or psychological dependence. The substances have recognized medical uses. Perfect examples include codeine, fentanyl, morphine, Percocet, OxyContin, Dilaudid, Demerol, and hydrocodone.
  3. While Schedule III controlled substances stimulate your central nervous system, they are less likely to be abused. Their usage can cause high psychological dependence and low or moderate physical dependence. They include anabolic steroids, ketamine, Tylenol with codeine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.
  4. Schedule IV drugs are less likely to be abused than Schedule III drugs. You can only acquire them through a prescription. They include Halcion, Restoril, Ativan, Versed, Soma, Klonopin, Xanax, and Valium.
  5. Schedule V substances have limited quantities of narcotics, like cough syrup with codeine. You can lawfully obtain some of these drugs without a prescription.

Penalties and Consequences of Violating HS 11366.8

Violating HS 11366.8 is a wobbler that the prosecutor can either charge as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending mainly on the case facts.

If convicted of an HS 11366.8(a) misdemeanor, you will spend up to a year in county jail.

An HS 11366.8(b) felony carries sixteen (16) months, two (2) years, or three (3) years in county jail.

Sometimes, the judge can order misdemeanor probation instead of serving time. Some of the terms and conditions of informal/summary probation include the following:

  • Paying fines and court costs.
  • Seeking a job or maintaining employment.
  • Completing community service.
  • Submitting to a random drug test.
  • Abstaining from drugs or alcohol and attending a substance abuse program.

How to Fight HS 11366.8 Criminal Charges

You can challenge your criminal charges by raising an effective legal defense to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Your defense attorney should collect and review evidence to develop the best legal defense based on the facts of your case. 

Common legal defenses include the following:

Coerced Confession

A coerced confession legal defense applies if you were charged after a confession.

The law prohibits police officers from using overbearing actions to coerce confessions.

If you can prove that the law enforcers coerced you to confess,

  • The judge can exclude your confession from case evidence against you or.
  • The court will drop your case if you were pressured to admit to an offense you did not commit.

No Intent

Remember, one element of this crime is that you intended to smuggle, transport, conceal, or store drugs. Therefore, verifying that you did not deliberately attach, make, or use a false compartment is a valid defense. You can argue that you made the compartment to conceal valuables or cash.

Entrapment Legal Defense

In most HS 11366.8 cases, defendants are arrested and accused following an undercover sting. The charges should be dropped if a law enforcer lured you into violating the law.

The luring is referred to as entrapment. It applies to overbearing official conduct by the police and can be any of the following:

  • Threats.
  • Flattery.
  • Fraud.
  • Harassment.
  • Pressure.

This legal defense only applies if you prove you only committed the crime due to entrapment.

Related Crimes to HS 11366.8

Some of the offenses charged alongside or instead of this crime include the following:

Possession for Sale of Narcotics

HS 11351 makes it illegal to possess controlled substances intended for sale. This law applies to prescription drugs and illicit street drugs.

The prosecution will charge you with possession for sale if you have drugs and there are indicators of sale. Typically, it includes the following:

  • Vast quantities of controlled substances or narcotics.
  • Scales.
  • Huge sums of money, particularly in small denominations.
  • Many people come to your place and stay a couple of minutes.
  • Packaging drugs in separate bindles or baggies.

A conviction attracts four years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

Your defense attorney can get you probation for a one-year county jail sentence.

Manufacturing Narcotics and Drugs

Before convicting you of HS 11379.6, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You manufactured, produced, prepared, or compounded controlled substances (or offered to do so), and
  • You knew the substances were narcotics.

The crime is a California felony carrying the following maximum penalties:

  • Seven years in state prison.
  • Five thousand dollars in fine.

The judge will impose penalties on the higher end of the penalty range if:

  • The drug’s quantity was huge.
  • There was a minor below 16 in the space where you manufactured the drugs.
  • A person was severely injured or died.
  • You have a previous drug-related conviction.

Operating or Maintaining a Drug House

The prosecutor should prove the following facts under Health and Safety Code 11366 before finding you guilty:

  • You maintained or opened a place and
  • You intended to sell, offer, or permit individuals to use narcotics repeatedly or continuously at the place.

While “a place” can be an apartment or house, it can be any other structure.

Why Hire a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

When facing criminal charges, you risk facing life-altering consequences. Whether the charges against you have merit, the judicial system does not allow the defendant to make mistakes. You will only be able to effectively navigate through the complex process if you have retained legal representation. Extensive paperwork, court trials, and pleadings are complicated, and a mistake can result in dire consequences.

However, this does not have to be the case. Hiring a skilled drug crime defense attorney comes with many benefits that can ultimately result in a favorable case outcome.

Advise You on the Available Options and Offer Emotional Support

When accused of a crime, it is easy to be overwhelmed, frightened, and confused. The lawyer understands what is at stake and can offer emotional support. They will listen to your side of the story, answer your questions, and advise you based on their legal knowledge. Knowing you have a professional and your rights are protected can provide peace of mind.

Your attorney can also advise you before the prosecutor files your charges. It allows you to choose the course of action and make informed decisions. After the prosecutor files your charges, the attorney can review the proof against you and advise you if it could be used in court and how you can challenge it.

Knowledge and Expertise in Criminal Law

Your attorney is trained and qualified in various criminal law aspects, including court procedures, evidence rules, legal definitions, plea bargain processes, and sentencing guidelines. The knowledge base allows them to:

  • Offer sound advice.
  • Ensure you understand your criminal charges and the potential penalties.
  • Develop legal defenses and strategies.

Moreover, your defense lawyer is familiar with the United State’s legal system, including how criminal laws are interpreted and enforced at the federal and state levels. Also, they know how to navigate complicated bureaucratic processes like collecting evidence, appealing convictions, and filing motions. They can also guide you in resolving the matter more effectively and quickly.

Protect Your Rights, Including Your Presumption of Evidence

Your attorney will ensure judges, prosecutors, and court personnel treat you well throughout the criminal process and fight for your constitutional rights. They will combat all illegal prosecutor’s tactics.

They will also ensure the proof against you is legally obtained. They will demand that the prosecutor prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and challenge testimonies and evidence presented against you if they believe it was unlawfully acquired.

Mitigating Your Penalties

This drug crime is punishable by fines and jail time. Mitigating your penalties entails understanding them and working aggressively to reduce them.

Your defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the severity of your penalties by using mitigating factors like taking responsibility for your conduct and receiving treatment.

Penalties mitigation can help you obtain the best possible case outcome and affect your ability to secure lucrative employment and affordable housing.

You Can Benefit from Their Relationship With Judges, Court Personnel, and Prosecutors

Established professional relationships with court clerks, judges, and prosecutors can be vital in negotiating plea bargains and other legal options to resolve the matter without proceeding to trial. They can also work to ensure the charges are reduced or even dismissed.

The experience of interacting with court procedures and personnel can offer invaluable help in navigating the complexities of the legal system. That way, they can ensure that your criminal case is heard promptly and that the procedural protocols are followed appropriately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Knowledge is power when fighting a drug-related criminal charge. Below are answers to some of the most common questions. The more informed you are, the more effectively you can work with your defense lawyer.

  1. How Long Will My Case Take?

Your case’s complexity will impact the time it takes to resolve. A felony charge will last months or even years, while a misdemeanor will be resolved within weeks or months. If the prosecutor makes a satisfactory plea offer early in the judicial process, your matter will end sooner than if it proceeds to trial.

  1. Will You Receive a More Severe Sentence If You Lose at Trial After Declining a Plea Offer?

Possibly, but not a must. The prosecution can recommend a longer sentence after your conviction than the recommended sentence during the plea bargain negotiations. While it can seem revengeful, the prosecution might have discovered proof that proves more severe charges after investigating your case further.

However, the judge will make the final decision on your sentence.

  1. What Occurs After an Individual is Arrested?

After your arrest, the police will take you to the police station, where they will book you. Booking means the police will collect your biographical, personal, and historical information. The law enforcers will use these details to determine if you have a criminal history that can prevent your release from custody after paying bail.

Find an Experienced Drug Defense Law Firm Near Me

If accused of concealing drugs in a false compartment, you are innocent until proven guilty and have a chance to defend your rights. Foos Gavin Law Firm is a leading criminal defense law firm in Sacramento. Our legal team is experienced in criminal defense and understands the intricacies of the California judicial system. While we cannot ethically guarantee an acquittal or dismissal, we can ensure that we can handle your case diligently. As our client, you have aggressive attorneys devoted to obtaining the most favorable case outcome. Please call us today at 916-779-3500 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your case and what we can do for you.