If you have been or believe you are about to be charged with the crime of transportation of a controlled substance in Coachella Valley, surrounding areas, or throughout California, you are facing dire consequences upon a conviction. It is critical that you waste no time in securing the services of a defense attorney experienced in this very specific practice area.
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we not only handle the simpler, "easier to win" drug defense cases, but we have deep expertise in high-profile cases like drug transportation as well. We understand the California Health and Safety Code down to the minutia and have longtime practical experience in successfully handling drug transport cases in California courts.
To learn more or for a free legal consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 888-293-0396.
How Is Drug Transportation Defined in California?
California Health & Safety Code Section 11352 covers a fairly wide range of drug crimes, including drug sales, "giving away" a controlled substance, administration or furnishing of drugs to others, and transport of drugs with intent to sell.
In early days, transport of drugs for the sake of personal use was included under this crime, but since 2014, drug transport technically only applies when drugs are moved for the purpose of selling them.
There are many drugs to which HSC 11352 applies, such as cocaine, peyote, and prescription opiates like codeine. However, marijuana, meth, and certain other controlled substances are dealt with separately under other statutes.
The Elements of the Crime
To gain a conviction on the charge of drug transport, the prosecution must demonstrate the following points beyond all reasonable doubt:
- The defendant illegally possessed a controlled substance.
- The defendant knew of the drug's presence and of its nature as a controlled substance.
- The drug was present in sufficient quantity to both use and sell.
- The defendant transported the controlled substance for the purpose of selling it.
Note that the crime of drug transport need not involve a long-distance transport of drugs. Even moving the drugs a short distance will suffice. And it does not matter whether the drugs were moved on foot, by car, by bike, or some other way, so long as they were moved.
You must have transporting more than mere "unusable" traces, but it is not necessary that you had the drugs on your person. "Constructive" possession, in which you control the drug transport from a distance, still counts as possession.
Also note that offering to sell, transport, or administer a controlled substance is punishable under HSC 11352 just the same as actually doing those acts.
How the Prosecution Builds Its Case
To gain the evidence necessary to prove the elements of the crime listed above, police and investigators will frequently conduct "sting" operations. This is to try to catch violators in the very act of transporting drugs and thus increase the chances of a conviction.
Often, police rely on informants who are themselves guilty of drug or other crimes in order to catch those they consider to be worse criminals. In exchange for a light sentence or no sentence at all, these informants give police information to convict others. However, informants also often give out false information, and a good defense attorney can make a motion to reveal the informant's identity so his/her reliability as a witness can be challenged.
Another source of evidence is from police observations at surveillance posts or at homes/businesses they have "staked out." And, finally, officers may even pose as drug buyers/sellers (either in person or online) to catch those who agree to take part in the sale.
A good lawyer will understand how the evidence brought against you was gathered and know how to probe and challenge its validity.
Transporting a controlled substance in violation of HSC 11352 is a felony in California, punishable as follows:
- Formal probation, or 3 to 5 years prison served in county jail.
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
- 3 to 9 years in jail if you moved illegal drugs across two or more county lines.
- If you have previous drug crime felonies on your record, 3 extra years in jail for each one.
Although jail time can sometimes be exchanged for probation or a suspended sentence be obtained, in the case of selling 14 1/4 grams or more of heroin or of selling meth, cocaine, or cocaine base, these options are not available.
There are also special aggravating factors that can enhance your sentence, including:
- Selling/transporting drugs within a thousand feet of a drug rehab center or a homeless shelter. This can add an extra year to your jail term, depending on which drug was sold.
- Selling/transporting large amounts of heroin or cocaine. If you transported over a kilo, 3 years can be added to your jail term; if over four kilos, five years are added; if over 10 kilos, 10 years are added; and if over 80 kilos, then 25 years may be added. Any weight enhancement can also add to your fine, making it as high as from $1 million to $8 million.
- If drugs are transported to or sold to those who have a prior felony, to pregnant women, or to those with a mental health disability, you are likely to receive sentences toward the maximum rather than minimum side of the punishment scale.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen, even if you have legal resident status, you are subject to deportation for a conviction on drug transport.
HSC Section 11353
When transportation or sale of drugs involves minors, it is a separate crime handled under Health and Safety Code Section 11353. If you are 18 or older and you use the services of a minor (under 18) to transport and/or sell drugs or if you sell or administer a controlled substance to a minor, you are guilty of this offense.
HSC 11353 is punishable by 3 to 9 years in state prison, and if heroin or cocaine was involved, an additional 1 to 2 years applies. The extra prison time also applies if you commit any of these acts within a thousand feet of a school, a church, and certain other buildings where children are frequently present.
Finally, drug transport or sales involving a minor receives an extra 1 to 3 years of prison time if the defendant was four or more years older than the minor.
Common Defenses Against the Charge of Drug Transport
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we use a wide variety of defense strategies against the charge of transport of a controlled substance, and we build each defense based on the details each particular case.
However, over the years, we have found there are a number of common defenses that we often use in this practice area, including these:
- The defendant did not possess any controlled substance. In cases where the drug in question was not on the defendant's person, it is often difficult for the prosecution to prove possession.
- The defendant was not aware of the drug's presence or of its nature as a controlled substance. This could happen if the drug was mistaken for another substance, such as flour or sugar.
- The drugs possessed were for personal use only. While they may have been transported, there was no intent to sell.
- The drugs were discovered in an illegal search, where there was no warrant or an inadequate warrant. The evidence is, thus, inadmissible in court.
- Police planted evidence, lied about where the controlled substance was found, forced a "confession" via coercion, or otherwise obstructed true justice.
- The defendant was a victim of police entrapment. There were harassed or enticed into committing the alleged crime by police officers, who went well beyond a simple offer/suggestion.
Contact Us Today
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we have a long track record of fighting for and obtaining the best possible outcome on a wide array of drug crimes cases, including drug transportation.
Attorney David J. Givot has devoted his life to defending the rights of the accused in the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas of California. He has both the legal acumen and undying tenacity to fight for and win your drug crimes case.
For a free consultation, contact David J. Givot anytime 24/7/365 by calling 888-293-0396.