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What Are the Best Legal Defenses for Drug Sales Cases?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Aug 24, 2022

California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS makes the possession for sale of a particular controlled substance a felony crime. If the prosecutor can prove you had control of drugs with the intent to sell them, you will be facing severe consequences.

What Are the Best Legal Defenses for Drug Sales Cases?

The narcotics covered under HS 11351 include drugs in the Federal Controlled Substances Act, such as cocaine, heroin, opiates, LSD, GHB, ecstasy, peyote, and hallucinogenic substances.

Further, you could be prosecuted HS 11351 if you possessed certain prescription drugs, such as oxycodone, if the prosecutor can prove you had the intent to sell them to others and you didn't have a valid prescription. To convict you of possessing a controlled substance for sale under Health and Safety Code 11351 HS, the prosecutor must prove two crucial factors:

  • you had possession of the drug, and
  • you knew the substance's nature or character as a controlled substance.

There must be enough of the controlled substance to sell. A “usable amount” is any quantity large enough to be used by someone with a controlled substance. Traces of drug residue are not sufficient for prosecution under HS 11351.

I've been defending people for drug sales cases for approximately 30 years as a criminal defense attorney.  Several defenses can be employed to represent a client in one of these cases properly.  Our California criminal defense attorneys will review them below.

Illegal Search and Seizure

For example, a lot of times, the finding of drugs is done illegally by the police.  In other words, they search cars and homes and don't have probable cause to search.

Therefore, if you can prove that it's an illegal search and they did not follow proper protocol when they searched, you can get the evidence thrown out against your client as illegally obtained, and then the prosecutors have no case.

Illegal Search and Seizure in California

For example, if somebody gets pulled over in a vehicle and the police search the car and find drugs inside, the question is, were they allowed to search the vehicle?

Here are some of the ways they're allowed to search a vehicle.  Probably the most common one is what we call consent.  They either tricked the person or were foolish enough to let them explore the vehicle and sign a consent waiver saying it's okay for the police to search my car.

The search would not be illegal if you or a loved one did that.  The police are allowed to do it if you let them. They can lawfully search your vehicle if they see drugs in plain view as they are outside the car.

A lot of times, they do this with their flashlight.  Sometimes, people are foolish to leave the drugs where they can see them.  If that happens, not only can they seize the drugs they see, but they can also go and try to find other drugs. Another way they can search your vehicle is if they can substantiate the search by being able to show that they have probable cause.

Let's say, for example, they give an undercover agent a bag of drugs, and that secret agent gives it to somebody else; that person throws it in their vehicle and drives away.  That would be probable cause for them to pull the car over and search it.

Search Warrant for Someone's Home

Another example of issues that I see with drug cases is when they search somebody's house.  They will not be allowed to search a person's house unless they get a search warrant.

They get a search warrant through a judge; they have to show the judge probable cause that there will be drugs in the house.  So, for example, if they used an undercover who went into the house, saw a bunch of drugs in there, and then came out, they could use that to get a search warrant.

They can tell the judge that we had an undercover in the house.  For example, if the undercover saw two kilos of cocaine, the judge would likely grant the search warrant.

Other than that, they shouldn't be able to get into the house unless they get a search warrant.  I have, of course, seen them in 30 years, searching homes all the time without a warrant.

One way they can get around the search warrant is with some emergency circumstances.  Let's say there's a 9-1-1 call, someone's being beaten up inside the house, the police can go in, and they can look to ensure everybody's okay inside the house.

If they're in there searching to make sure people are okay, they happen to see drugs, then they're allowed to seize the drugs, and they're probably going to be allowed to search the entire house.

What Are the Related Crimes?

Contact Drug Defense Professionals

So, there are a bunch of defenses.  One of them is that it is an illegal search.  Another one related to the cars is that they illegally stopped the person.  You can't just stop a person's car for no reason.

You need some traffic violation or some angle from the police's point of view that permits them to search a vehicle.  So, if they illegally stop you, we can file a motion.

If the stop were illegal, then the search would be unlawful as well, and they won't be able to use the drugs against you, and you'd be in a pretty solid position to argue that their case is no good without the drugs they illegally seized.

So, if you or a loved one is looking for a defense attorney that's handled the defense of drug cases for many years, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.

I've worked for the District Attorney's office.  I've worked for a superior court judge and been a criminal defense attorney since the early 1990s, defending people and drug sale cases, just like you. The Hedding Law Firm provides a free case review by phone or use the contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.