Drug Distribution Charges in California
When a person is caught with drugs, the level of consequences he or she will face vary depending on many factors, such as the type of drug, the amount of drug, and whether the person has previously been convicted of a criminal offense. One major factor in determining the seriousness of an offense is the person’s intentions. Possession of drugs is a less serious offense than selling drugs or possession of drugs with the intent to sell.
How does the state determine whether a person intends to use or sell the drugs they are caught with?
If a person is caught with drugs, there are a number of factors that can lead investigators to believe that the individual had intended to sell rather than use the drugs in their possession. Obviously, one of the main determining factors is whether the person is found to be in possession of a large or a small amount of the drug. If a person has a large quantity of a drug, this will indicate that the intended purpose might be to sell the substance rather than to make personal use of it.
Another factor is how the drugs were packaged. If they were portioned out in smaller containers, this could appear to be a sign that the person is portioning out drugs to sell them to multiple buyers. A large amount of cash can also serve as evidence of drug sales. In other cases, the investigation might have included observing a location where the suspected seller was located. If the site had many people coming and going, this might indicate that transactions were taking place. All of these factors can be used to build a distribution case against a person.
Penalties are much higher for selling drugs
Drug possession in California is typically a misdemeanor offense. Proposition 47, which was signed into law in 2014, reduced the penalties for several offenses, including possession of many drugs. The law is intended to cut down on the number of people incarcerated for minor offenses. With the de-criminalization of marijuana, new laws also permit adults over the age of 21 to transport marijuana specifically in amounts less than 28.5 grams.
However, while drug possession is now a less serious crime, selling drugs is still considered a felony, which means that these offenses can be punishable with prison sentences of more than one year. While sentences can be severe and include up to 5 years in prison, judges have a fair amount of discretion in these cases and can sentence a person to probation, drug-related counseling, or other less severe sentences. If you are facing charges for the first time, your chances of a more lenient sentence are better than if you have been convicted of other criminal activities.
When a person involves minors in the criminal act of selling controlled substances, the penalties can be increased even more. This includes hiring minors to help distribute the substances or selling the drugs near a school.
If you have been charged with selling or distributing drugs, you should contact an attorney immediately. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP are ready to protect your rights. Contact us today at 909-798-3300 for a free case review.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.