If you have been charged with the crime of sale or distribution of a controlled substance in California, you face severe consequences if convicted and should waste no time in availing yourself of the services of an experienced drug crimes defense attorney.
In California's Coachella Valley, or "Desert Empire," region, allegations of sales/distribution of drugs are all too common, but we at The Law Office of David J. Givot are here to assist you if you find yourself arrested on these charges. We understand that many innocent people are falsely accused of drug crimes and that many who only possessed drugs for personal use are wrongly charged with greater offenses.
David J. Givot has deep experience in the practice area of drug sales and distribution defense, and he will fight to obtain the best possible outcome to your case. For a free legal consultation, contact him 24/7 at 888-293-0396.
How Is Drug Sales and Distribution Defined in California?
The illegal sale and distribution of controlled substances, along with their transportation and certain other related crimes, is covered in California Health & Safety Code Section 11352.
However, some particular drugs, such as marijuana, meth, and PCP, are covered under different statutes. But most controlled substances, like cocaine, heroin, peyote, and prescription-only drugs like codeine and Vicodin, are covered under HSC 11352.
Note that "giving" illegal drugs away for free is also covered under the stature, as is administering the drug to another person. And also note that transporting the drug even a short distance, whether by vehicle or on foot, is still counted as distributing it. However, drug transport only applies if you moved the drug while having an intention to sell it.
A conviction also requires you were aware of the presence of the controlled substance and of its nature as being a controlled substance. You must have possessed, distributed, or sold the drug in "usable" amounts, not mere traces, but even very small amounts are considered usable.
Finally, be aware that even offering to sell or distribute an illegal drug makes you guilty of violating HSC 11352, so long as you are found to have made the offer with full intent to carry it out.
How Is Drug Sales/Distribution Punished in California?
How the crime of drug sales and/or distribution is punished varies based on such factors as the type of drug involved, the specifics of the activity involved, and the defendant's past police record. There are also numerous possible sentencing enhancements.
The crime of drug sales/distribution is a felony in California, punishable as follows:
- 3 to 5 years of jail time, and 3 to 9 years if you moved drugs across two or more county lines.
- An extra 3 years in jail for each prior felony crime on your criminal record.
- If you hired or used minors (under 18) to assist in selling or transporting drugs, 3 to 9 years in state prison.
- An extra 1 to 2 years in prison if you sold drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, church, or other location where children are frequently present.
- 1 to 3 extra years in prison if you were at least four years older than a minor you used in drug transport/sales.
- "Weight enhancements" for selling heroin or cocaine. These are based on the quantity of drug sold, if sold in large amounts. For example, selling over a kilogram adds 3 years of jail time, and selling four kilograms adds 5 years.
- If you have a weight enhancement, you could also face an additional fine of from $1 to $8 million.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen, you could face deportation, even if you are a legal permanent resident.
- You will likely get the maximum or something on that side of "the sentencing scale," at least, if you knowingly sold drugs to a pregnant woman, to a mentally handicapped person, or to someone with a felony already on his/her record.
Common Defense Strategies
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we are familiar with all of the major defense options that can potentially defeat a charge of drug sales and/or distribution.
David J. Givot has seen every class of case in this practice area over his many years of service, and he knows when to use which strategy and how to challenge the evidence brought to bear by the prosecution.
Here are three of the most common defenses we successfully use at The Law Office of David J. Givot:
- Your rights were violated: You may have been stopped in your vehicle without probable cause or arrested without probable cause. You may have been arrested without being first read your Miranda Rights. Evidence against you may have been obtained via illegal search and seizure and thus be inadmissible in court. Finally, evidence is sometimes planted or falsified by police in these kinds of cases, and police entrapment occurs all too often. If any of these violations of your rights can be shown to have occurred, we can likely get the charge dismissed.
- You only possessed drugs for personal use: If the prosecution can prove you possessed a controlled substance but cannot demonstrate you sold it or distributed it, you may be able to get the charge reduced to simple possession. This would lighten your sentence and possibly make you eligible for a drug diversion program so you can avoid jail time.
- You did not knowingly possess illegal drugs: It may be you were unaware of the presence of the drugs or unaware of their identity as a controlled substance. You may have thought you were transporting sugar, for example, instead of cocaine. It may be someone planted the drugs on your vehicle or in your living quarters. Or, it may be you only possessed the drugs momentarily while seeking to dispose of them.
Sale and distribution of a controlled substance is a very specific charge, but there are many related charges that can come up when it is prosecuted, including these:
- Possession for sale (HSC 11351): This is a little less serious of a charge since it only involves the intention to sell versus actual sale or transport with intent to sell. A reduction to this charge can lighten a sentence somewhat, but it is still a felony with severe punishments.
- Sale/transport of methamphetamines (HSC 11379): This law is just like HSC 11352 but covers meth specifically. It is a felony, and its sentencing is a little less severe than HSC 11352.
- Transport/sale of marijuana (HSC 11360): The sale or transport for sale of marijuana is punished under this statute if over 28.5 grams of the drug is involved. It is a misdemeanor and carries a $100 fine.
- Transport/sale of "synthetic" drugs (HSC 11357.5 & 11375.5): Selling "designer drugs" like synthetic pot or stimulants is a misdemeanor and carries a 6-month jail term and a maximum $1,000 fine.
- Sale of "imitation drugs (HSC 10975 & 11355): As opposed to synthetic drugs, "imitation" drugs are not real drugs but are made to look like them so as to gain a sale. This crime is a misdemeanor but can become a felony in certain cases where distribution is involved.
- Running a "drug house" (HSC 11366): Selling drugs from a set location, such as a house or apartment, constitutes running a drug house. This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of the case. When charged as a felony, it is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
- Money laundering of drug money (HSC 11370.9): When money gained from drug sales is hidden in legitimate-looking accounts and otherwise transacted as if it were from a valid source, it is money laundering (provided the parties involved were aware of the source of the money in drug sales). This crime will be a misdemeanor or a felony based on the amount of drug money that was laundered and other factors.
Contact Us Today
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we have the experience and the commitment to each and every client we serve to fight for and win the best obtainable outcome to your case.
Attorney David J. Givot has deep experience in all manner of California drug crimes, including in drug sales and distribution defense. He will know how to form a winning strategy to get your charges dismissed/acquitted or at least secure you a reduced charge/sentence.
Contact us anytime 24/7 at 888-293-0396 for a free legal consultation.