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Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance: What is the law and punishment?

California Health and Safety Code 11352(a) HS "sale or transportation of a controlled substance" is a felony.  This charge involves significant penalties, lifetime drug offender registration, and unlike HS 11350 "possession of controlled substance, drug diversion is generally unavailable.   

What must be proven in a sale or transportation of a controlled substance case?

HS 11352(a) "sale or transportation of controlled substance" requires the following to be proven:

  1. ​the defendant transported, sold, furnished, administered, or gave away a controlled substance; or
  2. the defendant offered to transport, sell, furnish, administer, or give away a controlled substance; 
  3. the defendant knew of the controlled substance's presence; 
  4. the defendant knew it to be a controlled substance;​

In the United States justice system, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  The prosecutor has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime occurred.

What are the penalties for a sale or transportation of a controlled substance​?

HS 11352(a) has maximum fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 5 years in county jail or state prison if ineligible under PC 1170(h)(3).

HS 11352(a) requires life time registration as a drug offender.

What are the defenses to sale or transportation of a controlled substance​?

The defendant did not have control over the controlled substance

If the controlled substance was not under the actual or constructive control of the defendant than he or she is not guilty of possession of a controlled substance.  This includes situations where another person has possession or the controlled substance was found in an area owned or in the control of another.

The defendant did not know it was a controlled substance

The defendant must know that he or she is in possession of a controlled substance.  A defendant that borrowed a car or jacket for another and is later searched by police is not guilty of possession of controlled substance if they were unaware of the drugs.  

The drugs were for personal use only

It must be proven that the defendant had the intent to sell.  This is usually proven by the manner in which the drugs were stored, one large container vs small individual bags.  The presence of measuring devices also indicate an intent to sale.  If the drugs were for personal consumption only then a defendant is not guilty of HS 11352(a).

The defendant did not have the intent to sell the drugs

The defendant must be transporting the drugs with intent to sell the drugs at some point.  Transporting drugs between locations for personal storage or use is not a violation of HS 11352(a) unless it can proven the intent is to sell the drugs at later time.

Entrapment Defense

The defendant is entrapped if a law enforcement officer engaged in conduct that would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime.  The defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence an entrapment occurred.  

Bottom line, you need an experienced attorney who is willing to walk you through the entire process, evaluate your case effectively for weaknesses and exploit the issues in your case to achieve the best results.  The Law Offices of Steven McNicholl has that experience and will get you through your case in the best shape possible.

See also

HS 11350 possession of controlled substance

HS 11351 possession for sale

HS 11352(b) Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance between Counties


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If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call the Law Offices of Steven McNicholl at (951) 405-0990. We have the skill and experience in San Bernardino County to protect your rights and get the best results in your case.

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