Written by attorney David Jon Pullman

Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (Health and Safety Code §§ 11351, 11351.5, 11359)

Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (Health and Safety Code §§ 11351, 11351.5, 11359)

Possession for sale is always a felony and these charges should be fought vigorously. For marijuana, the maximum sentence is three years in prison. For most other drugs it’s four years, but for cocaine base, it’s five. Penalties can be much more severe when one or more guns is also found. Police love to charge people with possession for sale whenever they have more than a small amount of drugs. They will gather evidence that supports their claim that drugs were being sold. Things they look for are:

  • Large amounts of cash/luxury items

  • Packaging materials

  • Multiple baggies containing the same quantity of drugs

  • Scales

  • Weapons

  • Lack of paraphernalia or evidence of drug use

  • Ledgers/pay-owe sheets

  • Lack of evidence of legitimate employment

  • Text messages on your phone about drug deals

Common defenses include:

Illegal Search and Seizure – All drug cases involve a contact with police, a detention and/or arrest, and a search and seizure. If the police violated your 4th Amendment rights at any stage, you can get your entire case dismissed.

Lack of Possession – Depending on the circumstances, one of the most common defenses is that the drugs weren’t yours and they weren’t in your possession.

Transitory Possession– It is not illegal to possess drugs if you are only possessing them in order to discard or destroy them or turn them in to the authorities.

Knowledge – Under various circumstances it can be argued that you did not even know that the substance was there. It is also a good defense if you knew it was there, but you didn’t know it was an illegal substance.

Personal Use – Often you can argue that the drugs were for your own personal use, despite the fact that you had some of the items listed above.

Entrapment – You can use an entrapment defense if a police officer or someone working for the police convinced you to commit a crime that you wouldn’t ordinarily commit.

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