1. Definition and Criminal Elements
California law has much stiffer penalties for the sale and distribution of controlled substances than for merely possessing or using controlled substances. Selling or transporting a controlled substance in the state of California is a felony offense prosecutable under Section 11352 of the California Health and Safety Code.
A prosecutor must establish and prove each of the following elements to convict a defendant of selling or transporting a controlled substance under this statute:
(1) A controlled substance was administered, sold, given away, furnished, transported or imported into the state of California a by the defendant;
(2) The defendant had knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance;
(3) The defendant had knowledge of the substance was a controlled substance; and
(4) The controlled substance in question was in a usable quantity.
Under the statute, a defendant is deemed to have “transported” a controlled substance when the defendant moves or carries the substance from one location to separate location, even if the distance between the two locations is short. There is no requirement that the prosecutor prove the defendant had intent to distribute or sell the controlled substance when the prosecutor seeks a conviction for transporting a controlled substance, nor must the prosecutor prove personal possession.
2. Related Offenses
Selling or transporting a controlled substance is an offense similar to the following offenses in the state of California:
California HSC Section 11350 – Possession of a Controlled Substance
California HSC Section 11351 – Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance –
California HSC Section 11377 through 11379 – Possession, Sales and Transportation of Methamphetamines
Example A: The defendant owns a vehicle, and a friend asks the defendant to assist him with a drug deal. The defendant was paid by his friend to carry 10 kilograms of a controlled substance from his hometown to a neighboring town. The defendant never purchased the controlled substance, nor did he sell the controlled substance to others. The defendant can still be charged and prosecuted under California HSC Section 11352 for transporting a controlled substance. The fact that he assisted in transporting the controlled substance is enough to violate this statute.
Example B: Similar to the facts of Example A, but the defendant merely entered into a contract to transport unspecified materials for a business associate. He believed he was transporting office furniture, but in fact, was transporting a controlled substance from one city to another, as the controlled substance was hidden in the drawers of the office furniture in question. The defendant had no knowledge that any controlled substances were contained in among the materials he agreed to ship for the business associate. The defendant, under these facts, would not be guilty of the offense of transportation of a controlled substance, because knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance is a required element for conviction under the statute.
Illegal search and seizure may result in the exclusion of evidence necessary for a conviction for selling or transporting a controlled substance. In the situation where police use illegal means to obtain evidence, the defendant can object to the admission of the evidence and a judge can rule the evidence cannot be used in the defendant’s case, often leading to a dismissal of charges.
Under California law, selling or transporting controlled substances is a felony. If convicted, a defendant may face up to a $20,000 fine and up to five years in state prison. If aggravating factors are present (such as when the transportation occurred within close proximity to a drug treatment center or a homeless shelter, when the defendant has a criminal history, or when certain types of controlled substances are involved), the punishment can increase to up to nine years in prison.
6. Criminal Defense
If you or your loved one are being investigated for or have been charged with selling or transporting controlled substances under the statute, it is imperative you seek the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure your rights are protected and all potential defenses are preserved.
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