The amount of jail time for a narcotics distribution conviction in California hinges on numerous factors. Sentences are often measured in decades (20 years to life) based on the severity of the charges. But sentencing is not always a simple “If/Then” scenario. In short, while drug possession does not invariably amount to a major (or felony) offense in the eyes of the law, drug distribution often does. Proving drugs in one’s possession are clearly intended to be distributed is the responsibility of the prosecution.
Narcotics distribution (a.k.a. dealing/selling drugs or controlled substances) is, from a legal perspective, is varied but sometimes very cut and dried. Take, for instance, the subject of quantity. If possession with the intent to distribute were a simple matter, the amount possessed would be of little consequence. But it is not simple, it is complicated, and the burden of proof lies with the accuser rather than the accused. This means the defendant does not necessarily need to prove their innocence, helpful though that might be. Instead, the prosecution must identify a provable link between the controlled substances in one’s possession and their suspected selling, transporting, or distributing of said controlled substances.
Another variable in this increasingly complex equation is the specific type of controlled substance suspected of being distributed or illegally transported. Marijuana, a Schedule I drug, is obviously viewed in a categorically different light than, say, cocaine, a Schedule II drug; but if present in suspiciously large quantities, even the former can result in jail time for the person in possession. With so many moving parts in play, the question of jail sentences for drug distribution defies a definitive answer. It does, however, merit consultation with a capable criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles if you find yourself charged with distribution of narcotics in California.
Drug Possession vs. Drug Trafficking
The relationship between drug possession and drug trafficking is a legal grey area in many instances. To engage in drug trafficking is obviously to possess drugs, but to possess drugs is not necessarily to engage in drug trafficking. Discerning a possessor’s intentions can prove impossible for law enforcement officers on the spot, which leaves the work of proving intent to the prosecution. Evidence of selling intent might include the presence of gram scales, money counting machines, large quantities of cash, or weapons. Even in the absence of such paraphernalia, a prosecutor might make a case based on known drug dealer/buyer affiliations or surveillance findings. So long as the suspicion exists, there is a case to be made…but not always a strong one.
Possessing anything more than a clearly recreational quantity of controlled substances invites considerable legal scrutiny. This is again dependent upon where this particular substance falls in the official drug schedule. It can also yield several years’ jail time if intent to sell or in any way distribute can be compellingly established. There is also the matter of transporting large quantities of narcotics across certain jurisdictions. This is not limited to state lines, as the common understanding would suggest, as counties also restrict the importing of controlled substances. A legal team with knowledge of these matters will be able to provide clarity on this complicated topic for your particular case.
Producing airtight proof of intent to sell drugs is the job of prosecutors whose profession centers on doing exactly that. If you have found yourself on the wrong end of drug distribution charges, you would do well to properly understand your rights and California’s laws pertaining to the specific charge.
Depends On The Type of Drugs Involved
Controlled substances differ wildly from one to the next. California and Federal law accounts for as much in its treatment of drug possession charges. But criminal treatment of drug distribution is not necessarily as discerning. Drug trafficking, or intended trafficking, is a serious offense and one that can lead to severe penalties for those convicted of it. It is worth pointing out that marijuana, which is legal in California, is still subject to transportation limitations and remains categorized as a controlled substance. Which is to say, a person must be licensed to sell marijuana, as is the case with alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana has effectively been legalized within a strongly enforced framework of regulation and overarching restriction.
Distribution to (or Near) Minors
Drug distribution charges depend in large part on the age of the parties involved, as well as on the potential threat posed to minors within the vicinity of illegal controlled substance selling/trafficking. Selling narcotics to or, for that matter, near a minor is a serious offense in California and can lead to an escalation of subsequent charges. Jail sentences are likely to be greater in duration under such circumstances.
Understanding California Drug Distribution Laws
Drug distribution is a serious crime and one often met with severe jail time sentences. And because laws and regulations are subject to change, knowing where matters stand with a particular controlled substance can prove elusive. Seeking guidance and insight from a legal team with express knowledge of the charges pertinent to your situation is a sensible course of action. Contact the Simmrin Law Group today at (310) 896-2723 or fill out that form on your right.