Overview of Sale or Transport of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell
The sale or transportation of a controlled substance in California is prohibited under California's Health & Safety Code 11352. Under California law, it a felony to transport to sell or import into the state controlled substances with the intent to sell. The sale or transportation of a controlled substance is a felony offense that can lead to severe penalties for those convicted. It is a federal crime if a person is accused of transporting drugs across state lines.
California law provides penalties if convicted of any of the following:
- Transporting controlled substances from one destination to another,
- Importing the controlled substance from another location outside California,
- Furnishing or administering drugs to someone else,
- Giving drugs away for free, or
- Offering to do any of the above.
Elements of a Sale or Transport of a Controlled Substance in California
In order to prove the accused is guilty of violating the offense of sale or transportation of a controlled substance, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following:
- The defendant sold, furnished, administered, gave away, transported, or imported into California a controlled substance (or offered to do any of those acts);
- The defendant knew of the drug's presence;
- The defendant knew of the drug's nature or character as a controlled substance; and
- The drug quantity was a "usable amount."
Transportation may only involve a short distance. For example, taking a package of narcotics from one house to the house next door may still be considered "transporting" a controlled substance.
This charge requires knowledge that the drug was present and that the drug is a controlled substance.
Example: Ethan is at his friend's house when his friend's aunt, Karen, asks Ethan if he could do her a favor. Karen has a present for a friend who lives near Ethan. Karen asks Ethan if he could deliver the present to her friend's house. Ethan says yes and puts the cardboard box in his trunk.
The police pull Ethan over for running a red light. Ethan allows the police to search the car and they find cocaine inside the cardboard box. Ethan transported a controlled substance and the quantity was a useable amount. However, Ethan should not be found guilty because he did not know of the drug's presence.
It is important to understand that the person accused does not need to directly handle the controlled substance to take part in administering, transporting, selling or furnishing. Simply offering to transport drugs may be enough for a conviction.
It may also be a crime to "aid and abet" the commission of transporting a controlled substance or conspire or act as an accessory to transporting drugs.
Controlled Substances in California
Not all controlled substances are treated equally in California. Drug sales or transport with the intent to sell applies to multiple drug categories, including:
- Heroin and other opium derivatives,
- LSD and other hallucinogenics,
- Certain depressants, and
Drug sales or transport charges also apply to certain prescription medications. Transport or sales of prescription drugs carries the same penalties as transport or selling heroin or cocaine. Prescription drugs that are commonly sold or transported illegally include:
- Hydromorphone/Dilaudid, and
Even if the individual has a valid prescription for the drugs, sale or transportation with the intent to sell controlled substances is against the law. This includes any controlled substance narcotic classified as Schedule III, IV, or V.
Other controlled substances may fall under other California drug laws and may carry different penalties for sale or transport. Even though marijuana is legal for most people to possess for recreational use in California, the sale and transportation of marijuana are still highly controlled.
Potential Penalties for a Conviction for Drug Sales
The charge of sale or transporting a controlled substance is a felony offense. A conviction can result in three to five years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
Enhanced sentences may be imposed for cases involving transporting a controlled substance across different county lines to be sold. If a person is convicted of transporting a controlled substance across two or more county lines, the prison sentence may be up to nine years.
California law includes aggravating factors that can increase the penalties for any conviction of sale or transport of a controlled substance. Aggravating factors taken into consideration include:
- The type and amount of controlled substance,
- Whether the crime occurred within 1,000 of a detox center or homeless shelter,
- Whether drugs were sold or provided to a minor, and
- Any legally relevant prior convictions on the criminal history of the person accused.
Larger quantities or amounts of a controlled substance can increase the jail sentence. Under Penal code Section 11374 (a) If the controlled substance contains heroin or cocaine, the increased penalties can include:
|Quantity of Controlled Substance
(containing heroin, cocaine, or cocaine base)
|Additional Jail Sentence|
|More than 1 kilogram (kg)||3 years|
|More than 4 kg||5 years|
|More than 10 kg||10 years|
|More than 20 kg||15 years|
|More than 40 kg||20 years|
|More than 80 kg||25 years|
There are other consequences of a drug conviction that go beyond jail time and fines. A conviction can leave the individual with a felony record. This may make it more difficult to find a job or find a place to live. A felon may also be ineligible for certain types of government benefits and felons may be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm in California for 10 years or more.
Federal Drug Charges for Sale or Transport with Intent to Sell
The sale or transportation of a controlled substance across state lines (or across the border) can result in federal drug charges. While marijuana may be legal for personal possession in California, it is still a Schedule I drug under federal law. This is the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Transporting any controlled substance across state lines, including marijuana, can lead to federal drug charges.
Federal drug charges are prosecuted by federal prosecutors in federal court. Any sentence may have to be served in a federal penitentiary. The penalties for federal drug transportation charges depend, in part, on the specific controlled substance and the quantity involved.
Potential Legal Defenses to Drug Sale or Transport Charges
It is important to understand that the evidence of each case must be carefully inspected by an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in drug crimes so that any and all potential defenses are explored and the appropriate defense strategy is vigorously pursued.
As with other California drug crimes, potential defense strategies may include:
- The drugs were found during an illegal search and seizure.
- The accused did not know of the drug's presence.
- The accused did not know the substance was a controlled substance under California law.
- The drugs were for personal use.
When the police or law enforcement conducts an illegal search or seizure, any evidence gathered through that illegal search may be suppressed. When a criminal defense attorney successfully files a motion to suppress evidence, that evidence may be kept out of court. If the prosecutor cannot use evidence of the crime, there may be no case and the prosecutor may have to drop the criminal charges.
An illegal search may involve searching an area where the individual has an expectation of privacy, a defective search warrant, searching beyond the limits allowed by the search warrant, or searching an individual or location without probable cause.
Specific defense strategies for the charge of sale or transport of a controlled substance with intent to sell may include:
- Mistaken identity: the person charged did not have anything to do with the illegal drug activity, and the police have identified the wrong person.
- Entrapment or other police misconduct.
The best criminal defense strategy against a charge of violating California's law is to attack knowledge of the accused. It is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person accused had the required knowledge.
Every fact is important to prepare the best criminal defense strategies. All evidence must be carefully reviewed by an experienced California criminal defense attorney. The attorneys of William S. Kroger Attorney at Law and Kroger Law Group understand the overwhelming nature of this charge and are prepared to listen without judgment and maintain confidentiality to ensure the best representation of clients.
Finding the Right Drug Defense Attorney in Los Angeles, California
A criminal charge alleging sale or transport of a controlled substance with intent to sell may be a life-changing event. It is crucial to entrust your future to an experienced criminal drug defense attorney who will examine the evidence of your case from every angle to best prepare your criminal defense. William S. Kroger understands how stressful and challenging it can be for someone facing felony drug charges. To discuss your case, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law today to set up a free consultation.