Not long ago, LASD deputies arrested a man they found in possession of several baggies of cocaine and a “large amount” of U.S. currency. The deputies were in the area as part of a program that deploys deputies to patrol specific areas where there have been concerns about large amounts of illegal drug activity. While patrolling, the deputies made contact with the suspect, T. Dixon, and found the illegal narcotics during a search. He was then arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics for sale and transported to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station to undergo booking and processing.
California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS makes it a felony-level offense to possess certain controlled substances with the intention of selling them. Some of the substances are run-of-the-mill narcotics, such as cocaine and heroine, while others are prescription pain medications including Oxycodone, Vicodin, and codeine.
Of course, simply possessing one or more of these substances does not in and of itself mean that the person was intending to sell them. For a charge of violating 11351 HS, a prosecutor must be able to prove that the person had the controlled substances in their possession with the specific intent of selling them. To do so, the prosecutor looks to certain indicating criteria, including:
The possession of large amounts of one or more controlled substances
Packaging the substance in separate baggies, bundles, or other ways
Large amounts of cash (particularly in small denominations of $20 or less)
Possession of a scale
Frequent visitors to your home or location who only remain there for a few minutes
When you take the presence of one of the criteria listed, it isn’t too terribly hard to explain it away in court. Proving intent isn’t always a simple thing to do, but when several of the listed criteria are present in a given situation, it becomes much simpler.
As a felony, 11351 HS is punishable by probation AND up to 1 year in county jail, or 2 to 4 years in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $20,000. If, during the course of the trial, the prosecutor is able to prove that the defendant intended for multiple sales, it’s possible that the defendant faces the penalties above for each intended sale, as opposed to the overall crime.
If a person is convicted of violating 11351 HS and the substance they were selling is heroine, cocaine, or cocaine base, the individual faces an additional 3 to 25 years in jail, and additional fines that could reach as high as $8 million – depending on the amount of the controlled substance they were convicted of selling.