Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code 11351 HS
For the course of the last 25 years, I've done thousands of sales, and possession for sales cases in Los Angeles County. Believe it or not, even giving away narcotics falls under the same category as selling narcotics which is crazy because a lot of times, the prosecutors want prison when people are selling narcotics on the streets of Los Angeles – especially if they have a gun or any type of a criminal record related to sales.
So, if you have a sales or possession for sales of narcotics pursuant to Health & Safety Code §11351, 11378, 11360 – these are all the drug crimes that fall under trafficking narcotics – whether it be transporting narcotics, possessing narcotics for sale, actually selling it – you have to get the best attorney you can find so you can avoid some of the horrible stigma and consequences that come along with drug-related sales offenses.
Defenses To Possession For Drug Sales
One of the biggest defenses that I see utilized, and I've been very successful with it, is that either the police illegally stopped the person – whether they were in their car or on foot – and that the police illegally searched the person and violated their Fourth Amendment rights.
We all have Fourth Amendment rights that it's not reasonable for the police to just search us for no reason. This is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and if the police stop or search you for no reason, anything that is found can be suppressed and not be used against you in a criminal case.
This is huge because usually without the narcotics in a criminal case, the prosecutors are forced to dismiss the case and you can move on with your life. So, this is one big defense.
The other defense is surrounding sales and possession for sales and even giving away narcotics, has to do with the surrounding circumstances of the offense. In other words, what happened? How did the police get you?
Another big one is sometimes you have narcotics, but you're not possessing it to sell it and you haven't sold it and you're not trafficking narcotics. You're possessing it for your own personal use. There's a huge distinction in the law between possessing something for your own personal use of narcotics and actually just possessing it to sell it.
If the police catch you selling it and you have a firearm, they are going to try to put you in prison. If on the other hand, you have a drug problem, or you are just socially using drugs, you are in a much different situation. There's a number of different programs that you can avail yourself of and you can really have a fighting chance to stay out of jail and even get a conviction wiped out if it's handled the right way.
So, these sales cases are very serious and it's important that you have an attorney who has done these types of cases, who is local to the court where your case is pending and really knows what it takes to win these cases or at least negotiate them to a satisfactory resolution.
Factors Prosecutors Use To Charge a Drug Sales Case
There's a number of different factors. All of them are equally important. (1) they are going to look at the person's criminal record and see if they've ever done this before; (2) they are going to look whether they are selling it where it can end up on the streets and kids can get ahold of it.
They are also going to look and see if the person is armed with a weapon. They are going to see the amount of the drugs that are involved. When they are considering whether someone is selling versus just personally using narcotics, they are going to look to see if they can actually visibly observe a sale, whether the person has “pays and owes” which are basically record-keeping systems showing who owns them money for drugs. They are going to check their phone to see if there are any messages that are indicative of sales.
They are going to see if they've got any baggies for selling. They're going to see if they have a scale. There are the whole host of different factors, and having done this for 25 years, obviously I know what they are and I know how to defend these types of cases.
What I have you do in one of these sales cases – whether it involves any type of drug – marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, PCP – I get you in the office and we sit down and go over everything and we really make an informed decision as to what the best defense strategy is going to be.
Whether it's going to be to fight the case and assert a defense or whether this is more a case where we should negotiate and try to work out some sort of a resolution where we get character letters and put a mitigation package together for you so that you can stay out of prison and still have a chance to keep your record as clean as possible.
The biggest thing is knowing what you can do to help the attorney, what the attorney is going to do, and having an idea of what you're facing so you can get some peace of mind and some clarity so that eventually you can get some closure on the case and move on with your life free of the criminal justice system.
How to Get the Best Result in a Drug Sales Case?
It used to be for many years that people who were charged with first-time drug sales cases would automatically get a minimum of 180 days in county jail in Los Angeles County. This is because possession of a drug with intent to sell is defined under California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS.
The prosecutors would likely seek a prison sentence if many drugs were involved. If you have prior convictions of possession for sales or sales of drugs, you'd be facing a three-year enhancement along with three years on the underlying offense. So, on a second-time drug sales case, you'd face up to six years in prison, giving the prosecutors much power.
Reducing Case to a Misdemeanor
In these cases, things have changed, with many drugs being reduced to misdemeanors. That has helped defendants number one and two, with the overcrowding in LA County jail that has also helped first-time offenders.
So, some things are good that a defense attorney can help you if you're charged with possession for sales or sale of drugs in LA County.
Did the Police Act Unlawfully?
This is not to be taken lightly; you want to get somebody on your side who knows what they're doing. So I have you come in; we talk about the case. We figure out the circumstances and get our game plan together immediately.
In this drug sales case, I always look at whether or not the police did anything illegal relating to seizing the drugs because, I'll tell you, about 50% of the time, in my experience, the police do something illegal.
They figure that the person is a drug dealer and don't care. So they cut corners in how they deal with the case.
Whether getting a search warrant and not providing all of the information and providing not enough information and the judge grants the search warrant anyways, or whether they pull you over, yank you out of the car, and search your vehicle without your consent, permission, and any probable cause.
Did Police Violate Your Rights?
That's one of the things I look at the following information:
- How did they get the drugs?
- What information did they have?
- Did they perform an illegal search?
Because if the search was illegal and they seized your drugs, we can mount the argument that they have violated your rights, and therefore, the drugs can't be used against you, and if the drugs can't be used against you, they have to dismiss the case.
Prepare a Mitigation Package
We assess this when dealing with one of these drug sales cases. If they've got the goods on you and they can prove the case, we will want to mitigate things and give your side of the story, depending on what it is.
Sometimes people sell drugs to support a drug habit, and we can try to work that case into a straight possession and get you some program. Maybe even get a diversion or drug court and protect your record.
If you're just a straight seller and they have proof, we can try to keep you out of prison. It depends on whom you are coming into the case:
- What type of criminal record do you have?
- What you did.
- How many drugs were you dealing with, and
- How sophisticated you were.
These are factors that are going to dictate how the prosecutor and the judge are going to perceive you.
Experienced Drug Sales Defense Lawyer
On the flip side, I've been doing this for 30 years. I've worked for the district attorney's office, I've worked for a superior court judge, and I've been defending people just like you since the early 1990s. Drug cases, especially at the state level, are at a pretty good state in LA County regarding fairness.
I can't speak for surrounding counties because some of these surrounding counties are tough. But LA County has got a lot more reasonable for many reasons, such as the following:
- One, the power in the district attorney's office;
- Two, the new laws that have been passed, which show that the people in the great state of California are not so gung ho about putting everybody in prison who touches drugs; and
- Three, the County jail has been overcrowded, so people get released much quicker than usual.
So, if you need the best, you or a loved one is charged with drug sales or possession of the case of a sale, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding, and we'll review everything, set up a game plan, and put you in the best possible position.