While California has tried to move towards the rehabilitation and treatment of drug users found illegally possessing controlled substances rather than punishment, the sale of drugs is still a serious offense. Possession for sale charges can be put against you if you are found possessing a significant amount of a drug, but also if you simply have the drug divided in such a way that it appears to be prepared for resale.
Possession for Sale of Narcotics charges are often misunderstood by defendants. When you are charged with Possession for Sale of Narcotics, the prosecution doesn’t have to catch you in the act. They simply have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to sell the drugs found. For addicts, this can sometimes prove difficult to defend against due the quantity found, meaning that innocent people are often accused.
Unfortunately, a false accusation of Possession for Sale of Narcotics can be devastating. A conviction for possession for sale charges can lead to a minimum of several years of jail time, large fines, and a criminal record. Even worse, diversion programs are not available to people facing charges as a dealer.
If you have been accused of possession for sale of narcotics, getting the help of an experienced drug crime attorney may be key to building a successful defense. They have the ability to look at the specific details of your case and figure out the best strategy for success.
Defining Possession for Sale of Narcotics
Under California Health & Safety Code §11351, Possession for Sale of Narcotics is one of the more serious drug-related crimes. Under this law, people can be punished for having possession of any amount of narcotics that they intend to sell, not for actually being caught selling drugs. This means that even less than a gram of the drug can lead to possession with intent for sale charges if there is circumstantial evidence that you were going to sell the drugs. This can include paraphernalia such as scales or weights with the drugs or the placement of the narcotic in individual bags for further sale.
Many people assume that possession charges mean that you were physically holding illegal drugs in a bag or otherwise on your person. This is not always true. If narcotics are found in your car, at your home, or otherwise in a place “in your dominion and control,” you can be charged with constructive possession. Legally, this is the same as if you were holding the drugs when police found them, although it may require a higher burden of proof for the prosecution to show the drugs were yours. A good California drug lawyer will be able to help you understand whether or not the police have a good case for constructive possession.
Some of the most common drugs included under HS §11351 regulating controlled substances are the following:
- Cocaine Base
- Vicodin, Oxycodone, or other painkillers
- Some other hallucinogenic drugs
Although it may be legal to have some of these controlled substances and narcotics with a prescription, it is never legal to sell them. This means that you can be charged for possession for sale, even if you came by the drugs legally, if the prosecution can prove that you intended to sell them illegally to another person.
Consequences of a Possession for Sale of Narcotics Conviction
Unlike simple possession of narcotics charges, you can’t be charged with a misdemeanor. Possession for Sale of Narcotics is always a felony charge, and you face much more serious consequences. If convicted, the exact sentence you receive depends on which narcotic you possessed and how much of the drug you had in your possession. Generally, you could face at least the following penalties:
- Two to four years incarceration,
- Probation and a year in jail,
- Up to a $20,000 fine, or
- Possible deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen.
For certain drugs like cocaine and heroin, these penalties can be even harsher.
In addition, these convictions cannot be made eligible for diversion programs, meaning that you will always face the less tangible consequences of a drug conviction as well. When you have a drug conviction on your criminal record, it can be more difficult to do basic things like find a job or get housing. Since the charge will show up on any background check, many potential employers and landlords may be hesitant to choose you. Similarly, you can lose financial aid if you are a student or a professional license if you are in a field like law or medicine. A drug conviction can even count against you in custody proceedings.
How to Fight Possession for Sale of Narcotics Charges
With such steep penalties for a conviction, it is important to fight against any charges of possession for sale of narcotics. Often, the help of an experienced California drug lawyer is the best way to ensure a powerful defense.
It’s important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction. In order to convict you for Possession for Sale of Narcotics, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Knowingly possessed or purchased the drugs,
- Were aware that the drugs were a controlled substance,
- Possessed enough of the drug to sell or use, and
- Intended to sell the narcotics.
This means that you and your drug defense attorney can work together to build a defense against the evidence that police have against you. Some common defenses used in possession for sale of narcotics cases include the following:
- You were unaware of the narcotics.
- You never formally possessed the drugs.
- You were unaware that the substance was illegal.
- You never intended to sell the drugs or they were for personal use.
- Whether or not the charges are valid, the evidence law enforcement has was obtained through an illegal search or seizure.
- Police somehow violated your rights during the investigation.
In the end, every case is unique, so tactics that may work in one case won’t necessarily work in another. That’s why a good California drug lawyer will analyze evidence in your specific case to choose the ideal course of action to fight the narcotics charges.