If the person accused of possession for sale is under 18 years old, they will usually not face criminal court. Instead, minors under 18 years of age will be charged with a Petition of the criminal offense and face proceedings in a California juvenile court. California juvenile courts focus on rehabilitation and deterring future criminal behavior instead of punishment of the offender.
Unlike ‘simple possession’ of a controlled substance which can be charged as a misdemeanor, possession of a controlled substance with the specific intent to sell is always charged as a felony and can lead to more serious penalties, including:
- Two to four years of imprisonment,
- Probation and up to a year in jail, or
- A fine of up to $20,000.
The severity of the penalty for possession for sale depends on the circumstances in the case, including the kind and quantity of narcotics found in possession. For instance, the penalty for possession for the sale of fentanyl has harsher penalties than heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy.
If you are convicted of possession for sale of a controlled substance, you may face sentence enhancements depending on the kind and amount of narcotics found in your possession.
According to HS 11351.5 and 11372, if you are convicted of possession for sale of cocaine base (crack), you face imprisonment of two, three, or four years, and a fine of up to $20,000.
Additionally, according to HS 11370.4(a), if you are convicted of possession for sale of “hard drugs” such as cocaine (powder), cocaine base (crack), or heroin, you will receive added prison terms. The length of these added prison terms depends on the quantity of narcotics found in your possession and are as follows:
- 3 years, if the substance exceeds one kilogram by weight
- 5 years, if the substance exceeds four kilograms by weight
- 10 years, if the substance exceeds 10 kilograms by weight
- 15 years, if the substance exceeds 20 kilograms by weight
- 20 years, if the substance exceeds 40 kilograms by weight
- 25 years, if the substance exceeds 80 kilograms by weight
You will also be given added terms of up to 15 years if you are convicted under HS 11378 of possession for the sale of methamphetamine, amphetamine, or phencyclidine (PCP) under a variety of weight or volume enhancements contained in HS 11370.4(b).
Additional terms under any weight enhancements are also accompanied by hefty fines ranging from $1 to $8 million depending on the amount of narcotics found in your possession.
Defending against a charge of possession for sale can be difficult, but an experienced California drug crimes lawyer can use several legal defenses to counter the prosecutor’s case against you. Some of the most common defenses include:
- You did not intend to sell the controlled substance and/or possessed the controlled substance for personal use only
- Insufficient or insubstantial evidence to prove the elements of possession for sale of a controlled substance
- You were unaware of or not in possession of the controlled substance
- Your rights were violated due to an illegal search and/or seizure, and the evidence collected against you should be dismissed