Controlled substances include things like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, all of which are illegal to create, use, or sell. They also include prescription medications like benzodiazepines and opioids. In order to commit the crime of possession for sale in California, you need to meet the following criteria:
- You are in possession of a controlled substance, whether legally or illegally.
- You are aware that you possess the substance and aware that it is controlled.
- You have enough supply of the substance to sell it.
- You intend to sell it.
The prosecutor must prove every aspect of this list beyond a doubt. If you have never actually sold the drugs, it can be difficult to prove intent. One potential defense is for your lawyer to show that you only intended to use the substance yourself. Intending to sell drugs is more serious than possessing them alone.
If your lawyer can show that you didn’t intend to sell the drugs, you might have options to keep you out of jail. These include completing a rehab program or taking part in drug diversion classes. Once you complete the alternative sentencing, you can have the charges dismissed instead of being convicted.
Possessing marijuana to sell is a felony. Convictions lead to a maximum of three years in prison along with up to 10,000 dollars in fines. If you sold marijuana to a person under the age of 18, you can serve a maximum of seven years instead. The severity of the penalty will vary depending on how old the person you sold to is.
Similarly, intending to sell methamphetamine can cause you to spend three years in prison. In addition, if you transport or actually sell meth, your sentence might be up to four years. The sentence for dealing to minors is a maximum of nine years, though it could be lengthened even further depending on the circumstances.
Selling illegal narcotics like heroin and cocaine is a serious action that can lead to a maximum of four years in prison. When the person you sold to was a minor, you might be sentenced to nine or more years instead.
There are other punishments that you might face based on the circumstances. For example, if you move a significant amount of drugs across at least two county borders in California, you might be sentenced to nine years.
Following your sentence, you may be sentenced to parole or probation. This is a type of mandatory supervision that places restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your life. You can expect to need to comply with mandatory drug tests. If you fail the drug test or otherwise violate your conditions, you might be stuck with more time in custody.
Another consequence is that being convicted means registering as a drug offender. You have to stay on the drug offender list for the next five years. Failing to register might lead to a revocation of your parole and more criminal charges.
Undocumented people might be deported if they are convicted of possessing drugs to sell.
It is also difficult to become employed after committing a felony. Being convicted of a felony is something that employers can reject you for.
Proving the Case
Prosecutors have to prove each element of your case. They will use Totality of the Circumstances to do so. They must show that there is enough evidence to indicate that you did possess the substances, knew the substances were controlled, and intended to sell them anyway.
Sometimes prosecutors will present evidence like cash and baggies to show that the drugs were being sold. If they can show that you were portioning the drugs to distribute to people, they have a case against you, even if you didn’t actually try to sell the drugs.
If a person is being investigated as a potential drug dealer, law enforcement might send an undercover officer to pose as a customer. Once the dealer tries to sell the substance to the officer, there is reasonable evidence to charge them with intent to sell.
It’s vital that you work with an experienced attorney if you’re facing any kind of drug crime in California. There are ways to avoid the maximum sentencing and to work with the prosecution. Your lawyer will be able to explain your options and help you choose a course of action.