Possession of an illicit substance can qualify as either a misdemeanor or a felony under California law, depending on the drug and the amount involved. However, if a prosecutor can prove that you possessed drugs with the intention of selling them to others, the penalties are much stiffer.

Proving intent to sell depends on several factors. A prosecutor can argue intent to sell based on large quantities of a drug, the presence of scales, large amounts of cash, or individual packaging of small amounts of the illicit substance. However, proving intent to sell is not always easy and it’s certainly not black and white. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Peter Blair can help determine a solid defense strategy to fight these accusations.

If you are facing charges of drug possession with intent to sell, it is important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney involved as soon as possible. The Law Office of Peter Blair understands that you are more than the charges against you, and attorney Peter Blair will work to make this difficult situation as easy as possible. When it comes to criminal defense, you deserve compassion, dedication, and a high level of expertise. Mr. Blair is committed to working with you to develop a sound defense strategy and move forward with your life.

Don’t let criminal charges damage your life and livelihood. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact The Law Office of Peter Blair to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

Legal Definitions

California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS prohibits the possession of certain controlled substances for sale. This includes Schedule I drugs like heroin, GHB, mescaline, and peyote; Schedule II drugs like opium; and any Schedule III, IV or IV narcotics. This section of California law also prohibits the possession of prescription drugs like codeine and hydrocodone with the intent of selling to others.

Conviction for possession with intent to sell requires that you knowingly possessed/purchased the drug (knowing it was a controlled substance); that there was enough of the drug to use or sell; and that you purchased or possessed the illicit substance with the intent of selling it.

Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

Possession of narcotics with intent to sell is prohibited by California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS. Under California law, this felony is punishable by two, three, or four years in prison.

Possession of an illicit substance for personal use carries significantly less severe penalties than possession with intent to sell. Felony possession of an illicit substance is punishable by probation and up to one year in county jail; 16 months in jail; two years in jail; or three years in jail. Misdemeanor possession, which applies to possession of GHB and certain depressants, is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Because of these decreased penalties, it is extremely beneficial to try to prove possession for personal use rather than possession for sale.

The actual sale of illicit substances is prohibited by California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS. The sale of narcotic drugs is punishable by three, four, or five years in prison (and three, six, or nine years in prison if the drugs were transported through more than two counties).

Certain drugs and amounts also carry increase penalties. Possession of cocaine base with intent to sell is punishable by three, four, or five years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. If you possess heroin, cocaine, or cocaine base for sale, you could face an additional three years in prison if the weight of the substance exceeds one kilogram; an additional five years if it exceeds four kilograms; and an additional ten years if it exceeds ten kilograms.

The sentence for possession with intent to sell can also increase based on your prior criminal history. If you have been convicted on at least one other felony drug charge (other than personal possession), you could face an additional three years in prison per prior conviction.

Legal Defenses

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you come up with a sound defense against charges of possession with intent to sell. Some possible legal defenses include:

  • Lack of intent to sell: Those facing charges of possession with intent to sell rarely make a voluntary confession to the crime; without a clear confession, the prosecutor is forced to prove intent using the circumstances. A prosecutor will typically try to prove intent by citing the amount of drugs, the individual packaging of the drugs, and the presence of scales or other packaging tools. In these situations, if you can prove the substance was just for personal use, you can get your charges reduced to personal possession and face less severe penalties.
  • Violation of search and seizure laws: If the police officers who initially arrested you violated proper search and seizure procedure, you could have grounds for an illegal search and seizure defense. This includes conducting a search without a warrant, conducting a search beyond the legal bounds of the warrant, or detaining you against your will in the first place.
  • Lack of possession: While it may seem simple, the prosecutor must prove that you actually possessed the drugs to prove possession with intent to sell. Without possession as a starting point, a prosecutor will be unable to prove possession with intent to sell.
  • Lack of knowledge: In order to be found guilty of possession with intent to sell, you must have known that the drugs were an illicit substance. If you unknowingly possessed the drugs or were not aware that you were doing anything illegal, you could have grounds for a lack of knowledge defense.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug charges have the potential to affect your job prospects, reputation, and relationships for years to come. The best way to combat criminal charges is to get a skilled criminal defense attorney involved right off the bat. The sooner an experienced criminal defense attorney gets involved, the better your chance of avoiding jail time or a conviction altogether.

The Law Office of Peter Blair is prepared to help you navigate the criminal court system and prepare a sound defense strategy. If you are facing drug charges and want the help of a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, contact The Law Office of Peter Blair. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential consultation.