Under California law, any drug consequences will have serious consequences. However, few charges are as serious as the sale or transportation of methamphetamine. Under California law, it is a felony that can result in a stiff prison sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to leverage a strong defense strategy into an acquittal or at least the most favorable outcome possible.
William S. Kroger Attorney at Law has built a career on defending the constitutional rights of those accused of crimes like the sale or transportation of methamphetamine. He is ready to review your case and discuss your defense options with you.
What Constitutes the Sale or Transportation of Methamphetamine in California?
California Health and Safety Code 11379 prohibits the sale or transportation of methamphetamine. But the statute is fairly broad when it comes to defining what sale or transportation can mean. To obtain a conviction against you, a prosecutor must prove three things:
- That you engaged in the sale or transportation of methamphetamine with the intent to sell;
- That you knew you were in possession of the substance and were aware the substance was meth; and
- That you sold or transported a “usable” amount of methamphetamine.
The Sale or Transportation of Methamphetamine
It's probably no surprise you can be convicted for the sale or transportation of methamphetamine based on a monetary transaction. But that's not the only behavior prohibited by Health and Safety code 11379. California law specifically prohibits:
- The sale or exchange of methamphetamine for money, services, or anything of value;
- The transportation of methamphetamine from one location to another with the intent to sell it;
- Giving away methamphetamine for free to others;
- Injecting or administering methamphetamine to another person; or
- Offering or attempting any of the four acts described above.
The sale or exchange of meth for something else is the most common basis for a violation of Health and Safety code 11379. Whether you sell meth for cash, trade it for valuables, or even swap it for a service, you can be found to have committed the sale of methamphetamine. This is true even if you didn't personally handle the drugs. If you transfer meth to a subordinate and direct him or her to sell or transport with the intent to sell the meth, you are in violation of Health and Safety code 11379.
You can be convicted even if you never make a transaction. There are separate statutes that outlaw possession of meth for either personal use or sale. However, the act of transporting meth from one location to another for the purpose of selling it violates Health and Safety code 11379. There is no distance requirement; if you take methamphetamine from your home and walk next door with it with the intent to sell it there you have transported meth with the intent to sell.
It also doesn't matter if anything of value changes hands. The statute makes the exchange for any goods or service a violation, but just giving away a sample also counts. This broad language doesn't leave much wiggle room for loopholes. The statute does not just bar giving away meth; if you administer meth to another person that qualifies as “sale” of methamphetamine.
If that isn't broad enough, you can also be convicted for merely attempting to sell or transport meth. If you take active steps to sell, administer, or give a usable amount of methamphetamine to another person, you could still be arrested even if you weren't able to complete the transaction. You could also face charges while attempting to transport meth regardless if you make it to your intended destination or not.
Even if you meet one of the elements described above, to be convicted you must have known that:
- You were in possession of the substance in question; and
- The substance in question was a controlled substance, including methamphetamine.
You can still be convicted if you don't know the exact makeup of the substance, so long as you knew that it was some sort of illegal drug. If you were unaware of what exactly you were in possession of, you might have a defense against a charge of selling or transporting meth.
For example, your friend shows up at your home with a suitcase full of what he calls “herbal supplements.” He asks you to hold on to them while he moves and never returns for them. You decide, despite having no idea what the substance, to sell them. When the herbal supplements turn out to contain methamphetamine, you are arrested. However, you have a defense in that you had no idea the supplements you had contained a controlled substance.
Finally, you can only be convicted of sale or transportation of methamphetamine if you are carrying a “usable amount” of the drug. California law does not specify exactly what constitutes a “usable amount” other than there must be enough of the drug for a person to ingest. Typically, anything above mere trace amounts is considered usable.
Potential Punishments for a Conviction for Sale or Transportation of Methamphetamine
The potential punishment for the sale or transportation of meth is steep. If convicted of this felony, you can expect a prison term of two, three, or four years as well as a maximum fine of up to $10,000. As a convicted felon, you will lose your right to own a firearm. A conviction also carries grave immigration consequences; sale of meth is a “deportable crime” that can result in your deportation regardless of whether you are a legal or undocumented immigrant.
While these penalties are harsh on their own, there is a series of factors that can enhance a sentence for the sale or transportation of meth. In some cases, the enhanced sentences are significantly higher. These include:
- Sale of meth near treatment centers – The sale of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment facility, a “detox” facility, or a homeless shelter will result in an additional year being added to your sentence.
- Large quantities of meth – If the total amount of meth you sold or transported weighs more than one kilogram, your sentence can be increased by an additional 3 to 20 years depending on the amount.
- Using a minor in the sale of meth – If you either employ a minor in the sale of meth or sell to a minor under the age of 18, you may face an additional 3, 6, or 9 years added to your sentence.
Legal Defenses to a charge of Sale or Transportation of Methamphetamine
Your defense attorney will need to carefully review your case to determine what viable defenses you might have. Some cases are built around convincing a jury the state hasn't met its burden of proving every element of the crime. Other cases rely on excluding evidence collected illegally. There is no one size fits all defense to a charge of selling or transporting meth; it will be up to you to work with your attorney to build the best defense possible in your case. Some common defenses correspond with the elements the State must prove in order for a jury to find you guilty.
No Sale / No Intent
One potential defense is that while meth was present, you never intended to sell it or transport it for sale. For example, you aren't in violation of H & S 11379 if you are in possession of or transport meth intended for your own personal use. If you are arrested in your vehicle transporting the controlled substance to another location without the intent of selling it to anyone, you, in theory, have a defense. However, while that defense is plausible in a sale or transporting case, you would still be on the hook for lesser charges of simply possessing methamphetamine. Possession for personal use is still a felony, but you would potentially be eligible for a diversionary program that involves drug treatment in lieu of prison time. These diversionary programs are not available if you are convicted of H & S 11379.
Lack of Knowledge
If you were unaware the substance you were selling or transporting was meth, or if you were unknowingly transporting the controlled substance you may have a defense. The prosecutor is required to prove knowledge; if your attorney can convince a judge you didn't know the substance was meth or that you were transporting anything illegal. It's impossible for anyone to know your true intentions, which is why the prosecutor may use circumstantial evidence to infer what you intended. It will be up to your attorney to show a jury that you did not intend to violate H & S 11379.
You Were Subject to an Illegal Search or Seizure
If the police gathered evidence pursuant to an illegal search or seizure of your car, person, or home, your attorney may be able to have any evidence collected during that search excluded from being used against you. Known as “fruit of the poisonous tree,” the prosecutor may not use any evidence against you that was collected in violation of your rights.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in L.A. County
If you have been arrested for the sale or transportation of methamphetamine in L.A. County, William S. Kroger Attorney at Law is ready to help. William knows what's at stake for you and is prepared to defend your constitutional rights in front of a jury of your peers. Contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.