Drug possession for sale, also known as drug trafficking, is serious. If you or someone in your family has been arrested for drug trafficking in Los Angeles, you need to know that it is a severe felony charge. If convicted, you or your loved one will face prison time. A “drug possession for sale” conviction can also affect immigration status and may allow you to be deported. No matter what the circumstances, you need to talk to a Los Angeles drug trafficking lawyer.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we know how to fight these charges. We believe that you deserve a strong legal defense and we have devoted our law firm to helping you. It’s possible that the drugs police found were for your own personal use, were not intended for sale—or weren’t even yours to begin with. Even in the hardest cases, we can help. Let us give you a free consultation to discuss your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as drug trafficking or “possession for sale” in Los Angeles?
California’s law against selling drugs is also known as HS 11351. This law makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell it. This applies to almost all controlled substances except marijuana, which is charged under a different law.
You do not actually have to be caught making a sale in order to be convicted. Police can also look for signs that you intended to sell the drug, such as:
You had large amounts of the drug in question (more than is reasonable for personal use)
You had packaged the drug into small quantities or baggies
You had tools that would be used to prepare the drug for individual sale, such as scales
People were seen repeatedly coming to your house or place of business and staying for only a short time
There are witnesses saying you sold drugs to them
Police look for these and other “indicia” (signs) of the intent to sell, and prosecutors use them to construct a case against you.
HS 11351 is a harsh law. The penalties are already tough for possessing drugs for any reason, and HS 11351 makes them even worse if there was (supposedly) the “intent to sell.”
What amount of drugs do I have to have to be convicted of possession for sale?
This is a myth. It is true that having a larger amount of drugs makes it more likely to be suspected of intending to sell, but… You can be convicted of possession for sale even if you only had a single dose. What matters is the intent to sell it, or being caught selling it—not the amount.
There is an exception for very small doses, however. Generally, the amount of drug in your possession has to be “usable,” meaning enough for someone to actually take it. Trace amounts of a drug left in a bag don’t count, nor do residue on a pipe. Even if there is evidence you were selling, you cannot be convicted of this charge if no usable amount of the drug was found.
Unfortunately, the bar for a “usable amount” is very low. A very small dose can count as a usable amount, even if it wouldn’t normally be enough to feel an effect.
How do I fight a “possession for sale” charge?
The burden is on the prosecutor to build a case against you. Under the law, they have to prove several facts in order to convict you—if they cannot prove each fact, you cannot be convicted. These facts include:
You illegally possessed a controlled substance
You knew about the presence of the substance
You knew what the substance was (that it was an illegal/controlled substance)
At the time that you possessed it, you intended to sell it
Additionally, they must prove that the substance is indeed the specific controlled substance in question—they cannot claim that it was heroin if the substance is missing or otherwise cannot be identified.
Because the prosecutor has to prove such an elaborate case, there are many ways for you to fight back.
What defenses can I use in a possession for sale case?
The best defense depends on what exactly happened. However, the strongest defenses we see tend to be:
You didn’t actually possess a controlled substance. This can be argued if the drugs were never recovered or are not able to be identified.
The drugs were strictly for personal use (not for sale).
The drugs didn’t belong to you—they were someone else’s.
You didn’t even know the drugs were there.
The search that found the drugs was illegal.
The police “planted” or falsified evidence.
Additionally, one very strong defense is entrapment. Entrapment means that the police crossed a line and pushed you into committing a crime. Since possession for sale often involves an undercover agent or sting operation, the way that the police handled the investigation makes a big difference. Be aware that entrapment does not work the way it works in the movies. You need a lawyer to look at your case with you.
What are the penalties for possession for sale in Los Angeles?
Possession for sale is treated as a felony, and carries prison time. The normal penalties can include:
2-4 years in state prison, and
A fine of up to $20,000
There are cases where you can get the prison sentence waived and serve up to a year in county jail instead. If you want to avoid prison, it’s imperative that you have a good lawyer by your side.
There are other penalties you can face for drug possession for sale as well:
If you have prior felony convictions, you face an extra 3 years of prison for each past felony
If you had cocaine base for sale, you could face up to 5 years in county jail
If you had large amounts of heroin, cocaine or cocaine base, you face excessive prison sentences such as three, five, ten, fifteen, twenty or even 25 years in prison—and fines up to 8 million dollars
Finally, drug possession for sale can affect immigration status. If you are convicted, it counts as both an aggravated felony and a “crime of moral turpitude.” Either one is is likely to trigger deportation proceedings before an immigration judge.
These punishments speak for themselves. You cannot afford to take any risks with a possession for sale charge. Speak to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Possession for Sale Lawyer for Free
Don’t wait until it’s too late to get professional legal help. The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the more they can do to help you. The Simmrin Law Group offers a FREE consultation. We will defend you as if our own family member is the one facing the court. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.