If you have been arrested and charged with the crime of drug sales or transportation in Los Angeles or anywhere in Southern California, you are facing one of the most serious drug charges on the books. You can't afford to be without a top-tier drug crimes defense attorney with deep experience in the sales/transport defense practice area. The stakes are simply too high, with long prison terms and heavy fines almost certain upon a conviction.
At Leah Legal, we have been successfully defending L.A. Area residents against all manner of drug crimes allegations for many years, including against the very serious charge of sale or transport of a controlled substance.
We understand the Health & Safety Code on these matters down to the legal minutia, and we also are intimately familiar with the inner workings of local L.A. and Southern California court procedures. We will know how to build you a solid defense and win the best possible outcome to your case.
Contact Leah Legal anytime 24/7 by calling 818-484-1100, and we will give you a free legal consultation and can immediately get started on building you a solid defense!
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How Is Drug Sales or Transport Defined Under California Law?
Under California Health & Safety Code Section 11352, the crime of "sale or transport of a controlled substance" is defined and assigned harsh penalties. This statute can be violated in any number of ways. Doing any of the following actions in relation to illegal drugs violates HSC 11352:
- Selling illegal drugs.
- Giving them away "free."
- Administering a controlled substance to a user.
- Transporting illegal drugs for the purpose of selling them.
- Importing them into California from another state, a US territory, or a foreign country.
Additionally, "offering" to do any of the above-listed crimes is a crime in itself, also violating HSC 11352.
However, to be guilty of committing this particular drug crime, you must have been aware of the presence of the controlled substance and of its "nature as a controlled substance," and, the drug must have been present in a "usable quantity."
What Must the Prosecutor Prove?
You might think the prosecution would have to prove that the drug in question was an illegal narcotic, but in fact, it can be any drug controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, including high-risk prescription drugs that you don't have a valid prescription for.
Proving the identity of the drug as a controlled substance and proving you possessed it are done just the same with sale/transport as with other drug crimes like simple possession or possession for sale.
That is, you had to have been aware of the presence of the drug and of its identity as a controlled substance. That doesn't mean you had to be aware of its particular harmful effects, but simply that it was an illegal drug.
If you didn't "possess" the drug, then obviously you couldn't have committed a higher-level crime like sale/transport. Possession can mean "actual" possession (on your person), "constructive" possession (under your control), or "joint" possession (multiple people possessed the drug in one way or anther simultaneously.
But to gain a HSC 11352 conviction, the prosecutor must prove more. He must prove any of the following:
- You "transported" (moved) the drug while having an intent to sell it (not just use it personally). The distance need not have been great, and it doesn't matter whether you walked, drove a car, rode a bike, or rode a boat or plane or anything else - so long as you transported the controlled substance. And importing drugs into the state still counts as transport."
- You sold or gave away an illegal drug. It doesn't matter if you received compensation or if so how much. Any kind of transaction is sufficient to convict.
- You administered illegal drugs to another person. That is, you assisted someone in using drugs in some way. "They wanted to take them" or "they asked me to help administer the drugs" is not a defense.
- You offered to do any of the other illegal acts mentioned in HSC 11352 and it can be shown that you intended to follow through on the offer.
Finally, note that the requirement of the controlled substance being present in a "usable amount" simply means it wasn't just mere traces or residue. Anything greater than that will be construed by the court as "usable."
Possible Penalties for Drug Sales/Transport
Sale/transport of a controlled substance (HSC 11352) is a felony in California, punishable by:
- 3 to 5 years in state prison, but 3 to 9 years in prison if you crossed two or more California county lines when you transported the drugs.
- A fine as high as $20,000.
- Formal probation.
In many cases, you can get probation or possibly even a suspended sentence even if convicted of drug sale/transport. But these possibilities are gone if:
- 14 ¼ or more grams of the drug were involved.
- The drug you sold or offered to sell was heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, or meth and you have a prior drug transport/sale or possession to sell conviction.
Sentencing enhancements for a drug sale/transport conviction may apply for a variety of reasons.
If the crime was committed within a thousand feet of a drug-treatment center or a homeless shelter AND the drug involved was heroin/cocaine/cocaine base - an additional year in prison can be added to the sentence.
If you have a prior HS 11352 or other drug crime conviction, besides simple possession or personal use of a controlled substance, 3 years of jail/prison time are added per prior.
If you sold or transported heroin/cocaine/cocaine base in "large quantities," the penalty rises with the amount. Three extra years for over a kilo of illegal drugs, five extra years for 4 or more kilos, 10 extra years for 10 kilos, 15 more years for 20 or more kilos of drugs, 20 years for 40+ kilos, and 25 years for 80+ kilos. And the fines for these large quantities can range from $1 to $8 million.
However, some of the harshest penalty enhancements of all occur if you sold/furnished drugs to a pregnant woman, a person with a violent felony on his/her record, or someone with a drug problem or mental health disorder.
And there are extra years added to the sentence if you sold/furnished drugs to a minor, employed a minor in your crime, or sold drugs within a thousand feet of a school, church, or playground.
Finally, note that there are serious immigration consequences for any immigrant convicted of sale and transport, including the possibility of deportation.
Common Defense Strategies
At Leah Legal, we have defended numerous clients in L.A. and all over Southern California from all manner of drug crimes charges, including sale and transport of a controlled substance.
We always build each client's defense from the ground up based on the exact facts of the case. But we are also fully familiar with the most commonly employed defenses used in these types of cases and when it's best to use each one of them.
These common defense strategies include:
- Unlawful Search/Seizure.
If your 4th Amendment rights were violated by an illegal police search or seizure of property - without a warrant or going beyond the valid limits of the warrant OR detaining you without probable cause, we can likely file a pretrial motion for suppression of evidence and effectively get your case dismissed so it never even goes to trial.
If police coerced, threatened, or lured you into committing the crime by more than just a suggestion/offer, it could be a case of police entrapment. This would also allow us to get your case thrown out of court.
- Other Police Misconduct
If it can be shown that police planted evidence, lied on the police report or in court, lied about where they found the illegal drugs, invented a false claim of probable cause, or used "excessive force" to force a confession, we can get your case dismissed.
- Lack of Knowledge
If you didn't even realize the drug was present on your person, in your car, or wherever it was found; or if you knew it was there but didn't know it was a controlled substance (maybe it looked like sugar/flour and you thought that's what it was), you can be acquitted of drug sales/transport (and of all drug crimes.)
- Lack of Intent
When the charge of HSC 11352 is based simply on "offering" to sell or administer drugs rather than actually doing it, the prosecution must prove intent to actually carry through on an offer. This is not always easy to do - for the burden of proof is high. We won't let the prosecution get away with a hair's breadth less than meeting that very high standard.
When a drug sales or transport charge arises in California, there are other drug charges that often become involved as well. Sometimes, they are charged in addition to the HSC 11352 charge, other times they are charged instead of it as part of a plea deal.
Here are the most important offenses related to drug sales or transportation to be aware of:
- Possession For Sale (HSC 11351).
Actually selling drugs or transporting them with an intent to sell is a higher crime than simply possessing them with an intent to sell. These crimes are similar and both punished harshly, but at least, the penalties for possession for sale are a little less harsh than those for sale/transport, if you can get a charge reduction here.
- Sale/Transport of Methamphetamine (HSC 11379).
Meth and similar drugs like PCP are treated separately in the California Health & Safety Code. In this case, sale or transport of meth is punished a little less harshly than is a HSC 11352 conviction.
- Sale/Transport of Marijuana (HSC 11360).
Marijuana is also punished less harshly than other drugs as to sale and transport. It can be punished by 2 to 4 years in jail if larger quantities were involved, but if 28.5 or fewer grams were involved, it's a misdemeanor with a $100 fine.
- Sale of Synthetic Drugs
If the drug sold wasn't "the real" product but was a "designer" drug version of, say, marijuana or various stimulant drugs, it's a misdemeanor offense. You can get up to six months in jail and a fine as high as $1,000.
- Sale of "Imitation Drugs"
"Fake" or "imitation" drugs differ from "designer" drugs in that they are totally "bunk" and not just a different "version" of the drug. But these concoctions can still hurt people and can still be addictive. Selling them is a misdemeanor offense, unless someone arranged to sell the real drug but then "double-crossed" the customer and delivered bunk drugs instead (then it can be a misdemeanor or a felony.)
- Money Laundering Drug Money
Making financial transactions with money derived from illegal drug sales (knowingly) is a form of money laundering, chargeable if at least $25,000 was involved over a period of a month or more. This can be a misdemeanor or felony and get you 2 to 4 years in prison. There is a fine of twice the amount laundered or up to a quarter million dollars.
- Running a Drug House (HSC 11366).
Opening or operating a drug production facility for illegal drugs is often charged with sale/transport. This is a felony, punishable by up to three years in state prison.
Contact Us Today for Help!
At Leah Legal, we have a long track record of success when it comes to defending drug sales/transport cases in L.A. and beyond, and we stand ready 24/7/365 to take your call for help and assist you in winning your case.
We have won dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges/sentences for many others accused of sale or transport of a controlled substance in Southern California, and we can do the same for you!
Contact us today by calling 818-484-1100, and we will give you a free, no-obligation consultation and a quick beginning to your case!