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Drug Possession Attorney Los Angeles- California Health and Safety Code 11350 (a) HS & California Health & Safety Code 11351 HS
The offenses of drug possession and drug possession with intent to sell can be severe crimes that come with severe penalties. Enlisting the help of an attorney that is experienced in drug possession cases can make all the difference in the amount of jail time served and fines that you are required to pay.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are facing one or more types of drug possession charges, you’ll want to have an expert lawyer by your side so that you can develop the best defense for your case.
What is California Health and Safety Code section 11350 (a) HS?
Under California Health and Safety Code section 11350 (a) HS, it is a misdemeanor to unlawfully possess a controlled substance. As outlined in the United States Controlled Substances Act, these include street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, GHB, LSD, hallucinogens, and opioid drugs, as well as prescription medications like Vicodin and Oxycontin if they are held by someone without a valid prescription. There is a listing of over 100 specified controlled substances under this act.
Possession can mean having the substance on your actual person, but there is also something called “constructive possession” which means that if a controlled substance is found in a location (such as a closet, storage unit, car, etc.) that you have ownership over, you can be charged with possession even if it is not physically with you when found.
What is California Health and Safety Code section 11351 HS?
Under California Health and Safety Code section 11351 HS, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance for the purposes of selling or intending to sell.
The intent to sell a controlled substance is considered a much more serious crime than simple possession, and for that reason, the penalties associated with these charges are more severe. It often happens that people who are in possession of any controlled substance can easily be accused of intending to sell, and therefore, it is important to have a lawyer by your side who can help defend against these charges.
In order to establish a case of possession with intent to sell it is up to the prosecutor to demonstrate that the defendant:
- was in possession of a ‘usable amount’ of the controlled substance
- had known of its presence
- understood the nature of the substance and that it is classified as a controlled substance
- and intended to sell it
The definition of selling, in this case, involves the exchange of the controlled substance for any other goods or services, anything that could be considered of value to someone else.
An actual sale doesn’t need to be taking place for an arrest to be made. Circumstantial evidence that points to intent to sell is enough to make an arrest. This might include the discovery of excessive quantities of a controlled substance, the mere presence of scales to weigh drugs or significant stores of cash which are associated with illegal transactions.
Is Drug Possession or Drug Possession with Intent to Sell a Misdemeanor or Felony?
Drug Possession may be classified as a misdemeanor in most cases in California. However, drug possession with intent to sell is nearly always charged as a felony and comes with much more severe punishments.
What are the Penalties for Drug Possession and Drug Possession with Intent to Sell in California?
Penalties for Drug Possession
When a person is found guilty of drug possession under California Health and Safety Code section 11350 (a) HS, they may be subject to jail time of up to one year, fines up to $1,000 and ongoing probation or parole as well as random drug testing.
Penalties for Drug Possession with Intent to Sell
If someone is found guilty of drug possession with intent to sell under California Health and Safety Code section 11351 HS, they will likely be looking at a jail sentence from between two to four years and a fine of up to $20,000. With simple drug possession, a defendant might have the option to lessen their sentence by entering a drug program, but this option is usually unavailable for defendants fighting an intent to sell charge.
If the controlled substance in question is cocaine that was intended to be sold this can increase the punishment by a significant amount. In this case the punishment could be directly related to the amount of the substance discovered by weight. It becomes a sliding scale where, for example, three years may be added onto the sentence if more than one kilogram of cocaine was found. If more than 2 kilos are found a judge may tack on an additional 5 years and so on. This makes it incredibly important to work with an attorney who is familiar with how these charges work.
Defenses to Drug Possession with Intent to Sell
Depending on the circumstances of your case, it is possible to fight drug possession and drug possession with intent to sell charges. An expert attorney will know the best ways to fight for you. They will know the most common ways to question the evidence that was used to make the arrest. For example, one common way to have charges dismissed is to prove that the search that occurred to uncover the evidence was done unlawfully. In a circumstance like this it is possible to have the entire case thrown out.
Learn How Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help you beat Drug Possession Charges
If arrested for a case that includes drug possession or drug possession with intent to sell, it is extremely important that you immediately speak to someone who is well-qualified to take on your case. Because the stakes are so high and the penalties might include a felony conviction and serious jail time, speaking to a lawyer that is experienced in drug possession cases is the best way to ensure you get a positive outcome for your case.