If you have been wrongfully accused of drug possession for sale, you may be worried about the consequences. Most drug convictions come with jail or prison time, and the collateral effects on your life can be devastating. Contact Fresno drug sales attorney Michael McKneely at (559) 443-7442 for a free consultation. With experience as a former criminal prosecutor and a defender, Mike understands the ins and outs of the court system. He will fight for your rights and do whatever it takes to help you keep your record clean.
When drugs are involved in a crime, police officers often try to charge the most serious crimes, like possession for sale. This is frequently the case when a person is caught with drugs on their person or in their home. Rather than book a person for the charge that is warranted, like simple drug possession, officers may refer someone for prosecution for possession of drugs for sale based on minimal evidence. In these cases, police tend to see what they want to see. Innocent items such as empty Ziploc bags or a kitchen scale may be enough to charge you with possession for sale.
Defining Drug Possession for Sale
Sections 11351, 11351.5, 11378, and 11378.5 of the California Health and Safety Code make it illegal to possess illegal drugs or other controlled substances for the purpose of selling them. The distinction ultimately between simple drug possession and drug possession for sale is based on whether or not the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to sell the drugs. Law enforcement focuses on items that they believe may be linked to drug sales, like:
- Larger than personal use quantities of the drug
- Unusually large amounts of cash
- Individually packaged bundles of drugs
- Empty drug bags
- “Pay/owe sheets”
Finding any these items, referred to as indicia, helps with probable cause to arrest someone for possession of drugs for sale. In California, there are no specific rules in place to determine which crime an individual should be charged with. It is up to the discretion of the officer in the first instance, and then the District Attorney. Also, unless the accused has a skilled California criminal defense attorney, there may be no further investigation to determine if the accused is guilty.
Possession for Sale Consequences
Drug possession for sale is a felony offense. While a conviction for most felonies would result in serving time in prison, possession for sale is usually punished by time spent in jail and on probation. This is because possession for sale is a low-level, non-violent felony and therefore falls under Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109), meaning a judge can impose a split sentence with time spent in county jail and on probation. Sentences for these charges include:
- If Sentenced Under AB 109 (Split Sentencing) – 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years in jail with time spent on probation and/or up to $20,000 in fines
- If Sentenced as a Normal Felony – 2 to 5 years in state prison
Fighting Drug Possession for Sale Charges
In accordance with Health and Safety Code sections 11351, 11351.5, 11378, and 11378.5 the following must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution to convict an individual for possession of drugs for sale:
- The accused had a controlled substance and was aware of its presence
- The accused knew the substance was illegal
- The substance was a usable amount
- The accused intended to sell the substance
One of the most common defenses in cases involving drug possession for sale is with intent. Can the government really prove that your intention was to sell the contraband? People commonly possess drugs for personal use, and possession alone is not enough to convict you of possession for sale. It could also be the case that the drugs in question were not yours at all. If it can be proven that someone planted the drugs or simply left them with you, your charges may be dismissed.
Talk to a Fresno Drug Sales Attorney Today
With the help of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fresno, many strategies may be available to prove your innocence and defend your freedom. To speak with a criminal defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today, call (559) 443-7442.