In California drug sales cases, the most important aspect is the intention of the person arrested. As any San Diego drug sales attorney will tell you, our state has no hard set legal rules regarding what quantity of drugs defines possession for the purpose of sale. This means that you should only face standard drug possession charges under California Health and Safety Code section 11350 (HS), not sales charges, if you are in possession of any quantity of drugs that were meant for personal use.
Possession for Personal Use Vs. With Intent to Sell
One of the most common defenses for those accused of possession for sale, 11351 (HS) is the argument that the drugs were purchased not for the intent of redistribution, but for the bulk discount in order to make one’s drug habit more affordable. This is particularly beneficial because California drug possession laws allow for those accused of simple possession to go through a drug diversion program which will allow them to keep the charge off of their California criminal record. On the other hand, those charged with drug sales under 11351 (HS) usually face felony charges.
While this defense sounds pretty basic, this strategy will become more if the prosecution’s experts argue you must have had the intent to sell given that the quantity is too much for personal use, if you were actually spotted selling a controlled substance to someone else, or if you were in possession of scales, packaging material, large amounts of unaccounted for cash, unregistered firearms or documents that show how much buyers may owe.
Of course, there are many reasonable explanations for many of these pieces of evidence as well, for example, you might need a scale if you buy a controlled substance regularly or ship a lot of items for work. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that anyone accused of 11351 (HS) charges immediately contact a skilled San Diego drug sales lawyer.
Criminal Defenses That Will Not Work
You cannot defend yourself against drug sales charges by arguing that you were only going to sell someone fake drugs because this is a drug crime as well under 11355 (HS). While this is a less serious charge than actually selling real drugs under 11351 (HS), you still shouldn’t say anything without speaking to a San Diego drug sales attorney first.
Similarly, while marijuana is now legal to possess and use in California, it is illegal to sell outside of a licensed dispensary. Selling marijuana to an adult is a misdemeanor and if you sell it, or even give it for free, to someone under 21, you will face felony charges punishable by up to four years in prison or even longer if the buyer was under 14. It is legal to share and freely give marijuana to adults over 21, so this can be a strong defense in against the criminal charges if there is no evidence the person receiving the marijuana paid for it or was underage.
Guns and Drugs Don’t Mix
It’s worth noting that carrying a gun and drugs and any amount of drugs in public at the same time is a distinct crime under the law, punishable by up to four years in prison. It doesn’t matter if the controlled substances were for sale or not, only that the specific substance in question was cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, PCP or a chemically similar drug such as crack.
Penalties for Drug Sales: 11351 (HS)
If you were caught in the process of selling or transporting a drug, you will almost always face felony charges under 11351 (HS) punishable by lengthy stays in a state prison.The sentence may be increased in cases with a particularly high quantity of drugs and the larger the quantity, the harder it is to argue that you had no intent to sell the substance. The penalties for drug sales with prior convictions for the same crime are particularly harsh and can result in large prison terms.
While the specific penalties will vary based on the actual drug in question and the quantity, if you are convicted of drug possession for sale, you will generally face a four year prison sentence. Aside from being required to serve a prison sentence, fines and probation period, it’s worth noting that any cash or property seized related to these types of drug crimes will also be subject to forfeiture.
Fighting the Charges with a Top Criminal Defense Attorney
Remember that what you say can make a serious impact on your charges, which is why you should never say anything without a your San Diego drug sales lawyer present. As an example, while you can say you had no intent to sell when you were caught in possession of marijuana in quantities too large for personal use because you intended to give the drugs away for free, you can even be charged with a felony for giving away other drugs for free. Similarly, while it can serve as strong criminal defense to claim you’re an unwitting accomplice, for example, you’re roommates with someone who sells drugs and you didn’t know it, it is easy to say that something that contradicts this defense.
Just like any other type of crime that involves the search and seizure of personal property, it is sometimes possible to fight this charge by arguing that the law enforcement officers who searched your property violated your 4th Amendment rights. In this case, your defense lawyer might argue that any evidence related to the illegal search cannot be used against you, which could make it nearly impossible for the prosecution to secure a drug sales conviction against you.
It is also common for those accused of drug sales under 11351 (HS) to be accused of related charges such as trafficking, manufacturing, driving under the influence of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and other drug crimes. You may face other charges as well. For example, if you had a child present when you were arrested, you could also accused of child endangerment.
If you have been accused of any crime related to drug sales or possession in San Diego County, or if you have any questions about any other California drug charges, please contact defense lawyer Peter M. Liss. You can schedule a free consultation at his North County San Diego law firm office located directly across from the Vista courthouse by calling at (760) 643-4050.