In California, drug sale charges are some of the most heavily penalized offenses you can have made against you. Specific California laws that prohibit the distribution of controlled substances vary depending on the type of drug. However, the illegality of drug transport, sale, and administration without a professional license is ubiquitous. Under Health and Safety Code 11352 (HS 11352), it is illegal to sell, transport with intent to sell, or offer to sell controlled substances such as:
- Opiates (hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone)
Distribution of these drugs is punishable by three to nine years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines. Unlawful marijuana sale, importation, or transport carries a lesser sentence, but it is similarly prohibited by HS 11360 and penalized by two to four years in a county jail.
Because moving controlled substances is regarded as such a serious offense, many prosecutors push for maximum penalties in drug distribution cases. Thus, representation from a qualified attorney is imperative when someone charges drug sale allegations against you. At Spolin Law, Attorney Aaron Spolin is a former prosecutor and award-winning attorney. His negotiation of favorable plea deals and fight for non-jail sentences at sentencing hearings has led to an impressive trial record.
If you are facing drug sale charges, call Spolin Law at (310) 424-5816 to discuss the details of your case. We provide free consultations.
Punishments for Drug Sale
Criminal penalties for drug sale are significantly higher for moving larger amounts of drugs and drugs that have a high potential for abuse, such as heroin. Nonetheless, basic penalties for a first offense are numerous and include felony probation, three to five years in a county jail, and/or a $20,000 fine. If convicted of moving controlled substances for sale across two or more county lines or of selling to minors, you may face six to nine years of jail time. A year of jail time may be added if the controlled substance involved is heroin, cocaine, or a cocaine base, or if you try selling within 1,000 feet of a homeless shelter or rehabilitation center. If you have previous convictions of a felony drug distribution charge, you face an additional three consecutive years of jail time for each prior conviction.
Transport or sale of marijuana in quantities less than 28.5 grams is a significantly lesser offense. If convicted, the crime is punishable as a misdemeanor and will result in a $100 fine. Sale of imitation or synthetic drugs is also considered a misdemeanor and may subject you to a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in a county jail.
In addition to criminal consequences, the sale of controlled substances is a deportable offense that may revoke your legal immigration status. Government agencies may also seize money, assets, and property if they suspect you obtained them in connection with your drug sale charges. You may forfeit these assets to the government without needing a conviction if they amount to more than $25,000. If they amount to less than $25,000, a conviction usually occurs.
Legal Defenses to Drug Sale Charges
Several legal defenses may be used to combat drug sale allegations. These include:
- Unlawful search and seizure – If government agencies did not obtain a warrant before searching your property, went beyond the scope of their warrant (searched your home when they only had a warrant for a vehicle search), or searched you without probable cause, an attorney could file a motion to suppress evidence. Many times, arrests on drug sale charges result from an illegal search and seizure.
- Duress – Someone may have forced you to illegally sell or transport controlled substances under threat of bodily harm. In this case, you could argue that you did not act of your own will and were only complying out of fear for your safety. This may happen if gang members or leaders of organized crime threaten you.
- Police Misconduct – Many times, police unlawfully gather evidence, plant evidence, or otherwise violate your rights while executing a sting that leads to your arrest. Perhaps police claim they found drugs in your pocket when they actually found them on the ground next to you. In that case, you could argue police misconduct in a court of law.
- Entrapment – Similar to acting out of duress, entrapment occurs when police coerce you into committing a crime when you are an otherwise innocent party. To be considered entrapment, the coercion must act as more than a suggestion or offer. It must be under threat, harassment, or a similar circumstance that a reasonable person would find difficult to refuse. For example, if a police officer was secretly involved in cocaine sale and used you as a drug mule under threat of arrest, entrapment could serve as a strong defense.
- Lack of Knowledge – In drug sale charges, people often mistakenly assume that all parties connected to the operation took part in the distribution of drugs. However, there are many instances when certain parties have no knowledge of the drug sale until their arrest. For example, perhaps you lent your car to a sibling and later discovered that he was selling prescription drugs to college students out of the trunk. You had no knowledge that the distribution of controlled substances was taking place in your vehicle. In cases similar to this one, you may argue a lack of knowledge as a legal defense.
Laws prohibiting drug sale are notorious for their strict enforcement, so the representation of a qualified attorney to argue your defense is paramount. To learn more about defenses to drug sale charges, call Spolin Law at (310) 424-5816 to learn more.
Contact a Drug Sale Attorney
Convictions of drug sale in California can have serious, life-altering consequences, especially if there is evidence against you of selling to convicted felons or the mentally ill. Hiring an attorney with a record of success can mean the difference between a lengthy prison sentence and a non-guilty trial verdict. Attorney Aaron Spolin has reach successful outcomes on hundreds of cases by fighting for his clients’ rights and thoroughly investigating the facts of each case. If you are facing drug sale charges and are in need of counsel, do not hesitate to reach out to Spolin Law at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.