According to California Health and Safety Code (HSC) 11351, you may face a sentence of two to four years in jail if convicted for selling cocaine. The courts impose longer jail terms if you are in possession of very large amounts of cocaine. For example:
- 1 kg of cocaine = three extra years
- 4 kg of cocaine = five extra years
- 10 kg of cocaine = 10 extra years
- 20 kg of cocaine = 15 extra years
- 80 kg of cocaine = 25 extra years
Additionally, you can be sent to state prison for up to nine years if you sold cocaine in a public area, close to a school, or to a minor.
What Counts As Selling Cocaine?
You can be charged for possession with the intent to sell even if you are not caught in the act of distributing cocaine. Under California law, you can be prosecuted for the sale of drugs, including cocaine, simply if you have more of it than you could be using personally. Technically, you don’t have to actually sell cocaine to face this charge.
The courts can also charge you if you bagged up small portions of the cocaine, or were in possession of tools used to get the cocaine ready for sale. People visiting your house or business repeatedly and leaving after a short time may also be seen as suspicious. Finally, if someone tells the police that you sold them cocaine, you can face these charges.
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Evidence of Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Sell
The distinction between a charge of simple possession of cocaine or cocaine base versus possession with intent to sell makes all the difference, especially with sentencing. Police officers will look at whether there is any evidence that you intended to deal drugs in order to determine possession for sale. This evidence can include:
- The drugs were individually packaged
- The presence of a scale to weigh the drugs
- There were large amounts of cash
- Multiple cell phones were found to be in your possession
- People frequenting your residence
What Are Other Charges Related to the Sale of Cocaine?
Even if you only have cocaine for personal use, you may be subject to jail time in California. The state considers cocaine a controlled substance. If you have it on your person or under your control, you can face charges for drug possession. You could be sentenced to a year in jail. You might also face fines.
You can be charged for being around others who are using cocaine, if it is determined that you were helping them somehow. There are other drug related crimes that may increase your jail time. The following sentences are used in California:
- Up to one year in jail for renting to someone who is making or storing cocaine in your space
- Up to one year in jail for utilizing or making a hidden compartment for the movement of cocaine
- Up to two to four years in jail for having a loaded gun along with cocaine
- Up to three to five years in jail for having, making, or selling cocaine in a space set up to keep law enforcement out
California also punishes the possession of paraphernalia associated with the use of cocaine.
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Are the Laws in California Different for Selling Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a more finely processed form of cocaine and may be smoked, instead of injected, inhaled, or snorted. Both forms of the substance are highly addictive, though California classifies them differently.
In addition to this difference in classification, California previously prosecuted the distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine differently. Individuals convicted of possession of crack cocaine could face double the amount of jail time. However, this changed when the Fair Sentencing Act was passed. Currently, the state passes the same charges for both forms of the drug.
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What Is Proposition 36?
Proposition 36 offers individuals with charges for nonviolent drug offenses the chance to go through rehabilitation for one year instead of facing prison time. This could be as an inpatient, outpatient, or treatment at a halfway house. This legal option can be used for a first or second offense and only applies if you were in possession of cocaine for personal use.
If you are charged with selling cocaine in California, you cannot make use of the rehabilitation option. Additionally, this does not apply to individuals who possessed a firearm or committed another offense unrelated to drugs.
What Can You Do if You Are Facing Charges for Selling Cocaine?
You have several options if charged with possession with the intent to sell cocaine. With the help of a drug crimes attorney, you can argue that you never possessed the drug, or that the cocaine was only for your personal use. Keep in mind that California considers even tiny amounts of cocaine to be usable for sale.
A case can be made that the drugs you possessed were not yours or that you were unaware of their presence. Your lawyer can also defend you if the police illegally conducted the search that found the drugs. Some cases have been supported by arguments that evidence was planted and not legitimate.
Consequences of a Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Sell Conviction
Other than years of jail time, a felony conviction for the sale of a controlled substance, such as cocaine, can have lasting negative effects on your personal and professional life, including:
- The suspension or revocation of professional licenses
- A felony on your record as a drug offender, even after completing your sentence
- Denial of an immigration application or visa if you are not an American citizen
- Difficulty getting federal financial aside if you attend college
- A 10-year ban from owning a firearm
- Difficulty receiving or retaining custody of your children
Sentencing Alternatives for Cocaine Possession in California
California has many programs in place to help people charged with drug crimes. These are alternatives to incarceration, and many are specifically targeted at first-time offenders.
Drug courts: Drug courts are located across the state and treat drug offenders. They often include terms like traditional probation (community service, counseling, treatment, etc.), but also require regular court check-ins and are generally more intensive.
Deferred judgment: This occurs when you plead guilty to the offense which you are charged with and undergo a period of probation and treatment. If you successfully complete the period and remain arrest-free for a set period of time (usually one year), you are released from supervision and the case is dismissed.
Your criminal defense attorney can help fight for changes to your sentencing and possibly even rid you of any potential jail time in exchange for rehabilitation and community service.
Call Simmrin Law Group for a Free Case Review
If you are facing felony related drug charges, speak with a cocaine defense lawyer immediately. The sooner they can begin researching your circumstances and negotiating with the prosecutor, the sooner you can put this event behind you.
Our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Simmrin Law Group can provide professional legal support and help you build a case before it’s too late. You can call us or fill out our online contact form to get the assistance you require with a FREE consultation.