If you are caught transporting a large quantity of drugs and prosecutors believe you intended to sell or distribute them, you can be charged with trafficking. If you are arrested for any type of drug charge, what you say to the police could drastically affect your case, which is why you should refuse to answer any questions after you have been arrested until you contact an experienced drug sales / transportation attorney in San Diego.
Transporting Vs. Trafficking in California
Transporting drugs in a car, truck, boat or any other vehicle is not a separate drug crime in itself. If you are caught transporting drugs, the most important factor in your case will be your intention for the substance. If you were merely moving your personal supply from one place to another, you were not trafficking narcotics. While you could still be charged with drug possession, you will not be facing the more serious, felony charge of trafficking, covered by California Health and Safety code 11352.
Making the distinction between a person’s personal stash and a quantity large enough to sell or distribute is often an arbitrary call on behalf of the criminal prosecutor. In fact, you could even be accused of felony distribution for carrying a large amount of drugs on your body. Fortunately, your San Diego drug transportation attorney may be able to turn a trafficking charge into a possession charge by arguing that the drugs were solely for your own consumption.
It’s important to recognize that these crimes don’t always have to involve illegal drugs. If you are in possession of large quantities of prescription drugs such as Fentanyl or other Oxycontin that you do not have a valid pharmacists’s license to possess, you can still be accused of attempting to distribute.
Evidence in Trafficking Charges
Other factors beyond quantity will be taken into account when determining whether or not to file trafficking charges. This information will also be used as evidence against you and may include whether or not you possessed packaging materials, scales and statements you made about the substances. Even if you mistakenly try to defend your possession of the drugs in a way that can be used as evidence for a trafficking charge, your drug trafficking attorney can still help you come up with a strong defense so you can fight the accusations -especially if he finds the police violated your constitutional rights in any manor during your arrest or the search and seizure of your property.
Drug Trafficking Penalties in California
Sentencing for drug trafficking crimes will vary based on the substance, the quantity found and your criminal record, but it is always a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. Transporting drugs through one or two continguous counties (for example, from San Diego to Orange County) carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. If you transported a controlled substance through a non-continguous county (for example, if you took controlled substances from San Diego County through Riverside County and into San Bernadino County), you will face more serious charges, with a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. If you took the drug through another state, across federal border, through an airport or if the DEA was involved in your arrest, you will likely face felony charges.
You may also be charged with other related drug crimes, which may include drug possession for sale, drug sales and more. Additionally, you could also be charged with other related crimes, such as money laundering or even child endangerment if you had a minor under the age of 18 with you when you were transporting the substance.
Fighting Felony Drug Crimes in San Diego
One of the best ways to fight this charge, when applicable, is to argue that you only had enough of the drug for personal use and not for sale. When your San Diego criminal defense lawyer can successfully make this argument, you can often have these drug crimes charges reduced to a drug possession charge. Possession charges are even eligible for a diversion program, meaning you can end up having the conviction not appear on your criminal record. If it is unlikely your San Diego drug trafficking lawyer will be able to successfully argue the drugs were for your own personal use, there are still a number of defenses he can use to fight these criminal accusations, ranging from transporting a personal supply to police entrapment.
Charges related to transporting or trafficking large amounts of drugs are very serious and should only be handled with the help of a top San Diego drug distribution lawyer like Peter M. Liss. If you were caught transporting drugs, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
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