Many states in the U.S, including California, have harsh laws and penalties for drug crimes. The specific penalty you face will depend on the drug crime that you commit. If you face drug crime charges in Bakersfield, CA, Koenig Law Office can help you create a solid defense for the charges.
Overview of Drug Crimes
Below are the common drug crimes under California law:
Possession of A Controlled Substance
The California Health and Safety Code 11350(a) outlines the crime of possession of a controlled substance. A controlled substance includes illicit drugs as well as certain prescription medications. You may face charges under HS 11350(a) if you possess certain medications without a valid prescription. Possession means that the controlled substance is under your control. Possession can either be direct or constructive. The prosecutor will have to prove several elements to charge you with this crime:
- It should be evident that you possessed a controlled substance
- The prosecutor must prove that you had no valid prescription to possess the substance
- You must have known about the product’s presence
- You should have known of the substance’s nature as a controlled substance
- The prosecutor must also prove that you possessed a usable amount of the controlled substance
Any drug or substance whose manufacture, possession, and use are regulated by the U.S government qualify as a controlled substance. The common types of controlled substances outlined by the law include heroin, cocaine, peyote, and LSD. You could face charges if you possess the following prescription drugs without a valid prescription:
This law does not apply to the possession of marijuana and other stimulants.
What is the punishment for possession of a controlled substance?
The crime of possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor, punishable by:
- A jail time of up to one year in a county jail
- A fine not exceeding $1,000
At times, you could face felony charges for possessing a controlled substance. This may happen if you commit the crime and you have a prior conviction of a serious felony or a sex crime. If the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony, the penalties include a jail time of up to three years. You can fight charges under HS 11350(a) using the following defenses:
- You didn’t possess a drug or narcotic.
- You had a lawful prescription to possess a controlled substance
- You are a victim of an illegal search or seizure
Possession Of A Controlled Substance For Sale
According to the California Health and safety code 11351 HS, it is a crime to possess a controlled substance for sale. The prosecutor must prove the following elements to accuse you of the possession of a controlled substance for sale:
- You purchased or possessed a controlled substance
- You knew that you possessed the substance
- You knew of the drug’s nature as a controlled substance
- You had an adequate amount of the drug for sale
- The prosecutor must finally prove you possessed the controlled substance with an intent to sell it or that you bought a controlled substance with the intention to sell or resell it.
You can be in actual or constructive possession of a drug with intent to sell. Direct possession means that you had the controlled substance in your person. For instance, the drug could have been in your pocket, briefcase, or backpack. Constructive possession of a controlled substance means that you have access to the controlled substance, and you have a right to control it even though you have no physical possession of the substance. Prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence to prove constructive possession of a controlled substance.
You may be in joint possession of a controlled substance if you possess the substance alongside another person. You can only face charges if you knew that you possessed the controlled substance and you knew the nature of the substance or drug. Knowing that a substance is controlled doesn’t mean that you should know its name, chemical makeup, and the effects it produces, it means you know that the product is regulated under US laws. The prosecutor will consider several factors to distinguish between drug possession for personal use from drug possession for sale:
- The quantity of the controlled substance you possessed
- The packaging of the controlled substance
- Absence or presence of drug paraphernalia
- Whether you were under the influence when the police arrested you
The crime of possession of a drug with intent to sell is a felony. It is punishable by:
- Probation and up to one year in a county jail
- A jail time of two, three, or four years in a county jail
- A fine not exceeding $20,000
If the prosecutor proves that you intended to make multiple sales, you could face these penalties for every intended sale. You could face additional penalties in case of aggravating factors. The typical defenses that you could use to fight charges under HS 11351 are:
- The police subjected you to illegal search or seizure
- You had no intent to sell the controlled substance
- You didn’t possess the controlled substance
- You had no knowledge that you possessed the controlled substance
The Sale And Transportation Of A Drug/Controlled Substance
HS 11352 makes it a crime to transport or sell a controlled substance, including heroin, cocaine, peyote, LSD, prescription opiates like oxycodone, codeine, and hydrocodone. The prosecutor will have to prove that you did any of the following with a controlled substance:
- Furnished it
- Sold it
- Gave it away
- Administered it
- Transported it
- Imported the substance into California
- Offered to do any of the acts outlined above
- The prosecutor should also show that you were aware of the controlled substance’s presence.
- You must have known of the nature of the substance as a controlled substance.
- The substance that you possessed must have been of a usable amount.
The crime of sale and transportation of a drug is a felony. The punishment for the offense may include:
- Formal or felony probation
- A jail time of three, four, or five years in a county jail
- If you transport a controlled substance for sale across two counties or more, you may face a jail time of three, six, or nine years.
- A fine not exceeding $20,000
You will face enhanced penalties if the following aggravating factors are present:
- You engaged in drug trafficking near homeless shelters or drug treatment facilities.
- You sold or transported large quantities of cocaine or heroin
- You sold or furnished drugs to certain people, including a pregnant person, a person being treated for a drug disorder or mental health problem
- A person who was previously convicted of a serious felony
- You have prior convictions for drug crimes
If you are not a U.S citizen, a conviction for a drug crime under HS 11352 could have negative immigration consequences. A conviction under HS 11352 is a deportable crime.
The sale and transportation of a drug involving minors below 18 years is a more severe offense. You will face enhanced penalties if you employ or hire a minor below 18 to sell, transport, or give away a controlled substance. You will also face enhanced penalties if you furnish, administer, or give away a controlled substance to a minor. The sale and transportation of a drug involving a minor is an offense punishable by imprisonment in a California State Prison in California for three, six, or nine years. You may face an additional one or two years imprisonment if:
- The drug involved was cocaine, heroin, or cocaine base
- The crime occurred within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, school, or any other location where minors often visit
You could also face a separate, additional one, two, or three years imprisonment in a California State Prison if you are four years older than the minor. You can use the following defenses to fight charges under HS 11352:
- The police subjected you to an illegal search and seizure
- The police engaged in misconduct, including planting evidence and using excessive force
- Lying about where they found the controlled substance and falsifying a probable cause led to your arrest
Being Under The Influence of A Controlled Substance
According to California law HS 11550, it is a criminal offense to be under the influence of a controlled substance or any narcotic drug with no legal prescription. This law applies to several controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone. The law requires the prosecutor to prove the following elements to accuse you of this crime:
- You willfully or intentionally used a controlled substance
- You were intentionally under the influence of a controlled substance
Marijuana is not included in this statute. Acting willfully means that you consumed the controlled substance on purpose. For this statute, the use of the controlled substance must have been current. This means that the use of the substance should have come immediately before your arrest. You are under the influence of a drug if the drug has affected your brain or mental condition, nervous system, physical condition, and muscles.
The standard for being under the influence of a controlled substance is lower than that of being under the influence of alcohol. When the law enforcement officers arrest and detain you on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs, they will involve a DRE (drug recognition expert) to determine if you are under the influence of drugs.
What are the penalties for violating California HS 11550?
The violation of HS 11550 is a misdemeanor offense. The crime is punishable by jail time not exceeding one year in county jail. In some instances, you may qualify for a drug diversion program instead of jail time, where you will undergo drug counseling and rehabilitation. The crime of being under the influence of a controlled substance has no negative immigration consequences.
What are the typical defenses that you can use to fight charges under HS 11550?
- The controlled substance or drug was legally administered by a person who is licensed to do so
- You were not under the influence of a controlled substance
- Involuntary intoxication, meaning you didn’t use the drug willfully, and thus you are not intentionally under the influence of the drug.
Sale And Transportation of Methamphetamine – HS 11379
According to the California HS 11379, the sale or transportation of methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is an offense. Still, under HS 11379, it is a crime to administer or give away meth to another person. If you offer to do any of the acts outlined above, you violate California's HS 11379. This statute prohibits the sale and transport of all stimulants and other non–narcotic drugs like ketamine, Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and certain anabolic steroids. According to HS 11379, you should not:
- Exchange or sell crystal meth for money or any other item of value
- Move meth from one place to another intending to sell it — You will face charges even if you move the stimulant for only a short distance
- Provide or give away meth to others
- Administer the stimulant to another person
- Offer or try to perform any of the acts mentioned above
The prosecutor will have to prove several factors to show beyond doubt that you are guilty under HS 11379:
- You engaged in any of the actions mentioned above
- You were aware of the presence of the drug and its nature as a controlled substance.
- You transported or sold a usable amount of meth.
What is the punishment for the sale or transportation of meth?
The violation of California's HS 11379 is a felony. A conviction for this crime could lead to imprisonment of two, three, or four years. You might also have to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000. The sentence will increase if you transport meth across two counties or several counties intending to sell it. In this case, you will face imprisonment of three, six, or nine years.
If you commit the crime of simple possession of meth under HS 11377, you will be eligible for a drug diversion program. However, the drug diversion program is not available for the crime of sale and transport of meth. If you have a well-experienced attorney, you can persuade the prosecutor to reduce your charges.
Manufacturing A Controlled Substance
According to California HS 11379.6, it is a crime to manufacture a controlled substance. This statute applies to all narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and opiates. The prosecutor will have to prove the following elements to accuse you of this crime:
- You manufactured, produced, compounded, or prepared a narcotic
- You were aware of the substance’s nature as a narcotic
Any substance regulated under the U.S Controlled Substance Act is a controlled substance irrespective of whether it is a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 drug. The prosecutor only needs to show that you knew that the substance you were manufacturing is a drug. The prosecutor does not need to show that you knew the specific controlled substance you were making. You do not have to complete the process of manufacturing the controlled substance to face charges.
What are the penalties of a conviction under Hs 11379.6?
The offense is a felony punishable by:
- Imprisonment of three, five, or seven years in a county jail
- A fine not exceeding $50,000
You can fight charges under HS 11379.6 using the following defenses:
- You only took preparatory acts in the manufacturing process
- The police subjected you to unlawful search and seizure
- The police subjected you to entrapment
Possessing Components /Materials For Manufacture A Controlled Substance
According to California HS 11383, it is a crime to possess certain chemicals with the intent of using the chemicals for manufacturing PCP (Phencyclidine). The prosecutor will have to prove several elements to accuse you of this crime:
- You possessed certain chemicals that can be used to manufacture PCP
- When you possessed the said chemicals, you intended to use them to manufacture PCP
The violation of HS 11383 is a felony punishable by:
- A jail time of up to six years in a county jail
- A fine not exceeding $10,000
You could face enhanced penalties if you have prior convictions on your criminal record. You can use the following defenses to fight charges:
- You had no intent to make PCP
- You didn’t possess the said chemicals
- The police subjected in unlawful search and seizure
California Marijuana Law
On January 1, 2018, recreational use of marijuana became legal in California due to the passage of voter Proposition 64 in 2016. It is legal for a person above 21 years to possess one ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of marijuana. It is also legal to plant up to six marijuana plants for recreational use. If you exceed the allowable amounts of recreational marijuana, you could face misdemeanor charges punishable by a jail time not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding $500. If a person below 21 years possesses marijuana, they may face infraction charges. If the person is above 18, they may have to pay a fine. Persons below 18 could be subjected to community service.
Other Drug Crimes
Other drug crimes under California law include:
- Possessing components for the manufacture of meth — HS 5
- Renting a space for distribution of a controlled substance — HS 5
- Operating a drug house — HS 11366
- Possession of meth for sale — HS 11378
- Personal possession of meth — HS 11377
- Being under the influence of meth — HS 11550
Find A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Drug offenses often attract severe penalties, including jail time and hefty fines. Therefore, you should contact an attorney immediately when the prosecutor accuses you of a drug crime. For the best legal representation in Bakersfield, CA, contact Koenig Law Office. Call us at 661-793-7222 and speak to one of our attorneys.