Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale – Health and Safety Code 11378 HS
The serious drug crime of possession for sale of methamphetamine is defined under California Health and Safety Code 11378 HS. This statute simply describes this offense as illegally possessing a controlled substance with the intent of selling it.
It should be noted that “intent” is not the same as actually selling or transporting an illegal drug. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant which makes it a controlled substance under HS 11378.
Possessing meth for sale under Health and Safety Code Section 11378 is a distinct offense from simple possession which is prosecuted under Health and Safety Code Section 11377.
An HS 11378 prosecution typically involves the accusation that the defendant was in possession of a certain quantity of meth with the intent to sell those narcotics either now or at some future time.
It's worth noting that in order to be charged with violating HS 11378, you don't have to be actually caught in the physical act of selling methamphetamine.
Health and Safety Code 11378 includes other controlled substances, such as:
- GHB, and
The “intent” to sell methamphetamine can be established by the amount of meth possessed, baggies, scale, large amount of cash, and factors that indicate the meth was not for personal use.
In order to give readers more useful information about meth possession for sales law in California, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are providing a review below.
What Factors Must Be Proven for an HS 11378 Conviction?
In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for possession of meth with intent to sell in violation of Health and Safety Code 11378, they must be able to prove several crucial factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
These are commonly known as the “elements of the crime” and are listed under CALCRIM 2302 Jury instructions, that you:
- Unlawfully had possession of a controlled substance;
- Knew of its presence, and
- Knew the substance's nature as a controlled substance;
- Had possession of enough meth to sell it for consumption;
- Possessed the meth with intent to sell it.
Proving “possession” of meth
It should be noted that “possession” of the meth could be proven in different ways.
“Actual” possession of the meth simply means you had possession on your person, such as in your pocket.
“Constructive” possession means the meth was located in a place where you had control over it.
“Joint” possession means you somehow had shared possession with other people.
Typically, a prosecutor will try to prove possession of meth for sales with evidence of the quantity of drugs, how it was packaged, large amount of cash, scales, and if there was a lack of drug paraphernalia.
What are the Penalties for Selling Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine possession with intent to sell under Health and Safety Code 11378 is always a felony offense. If convicted, you are facing the following penalties:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in the California state prison,
- A fines up to $10,000,
- Formal felony probation.
Additionally, there are some sentencing enhancements based on a variety of aggravating factors:
- If the meth for sale was possessed within 1000 feet of a drug treatment facility or homeless shelter, an additional one year can be added to the sentence;
- If you were in possession of more than one kilogram of meth, an additional three to fifteen can be added to the state prison sentence;
- If a minor was used by the defendant to sell the meth, an additional three, six, or nine years in prison can be ordered by the judge.
If defendant used a minor to assist them with drug sales, they could also face an additional criminal charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is defined under California Penal Code 272.
If the defendant is an undocumented immigrant, an HS 11378 meth sales conviction could lead to deportation.
As stated, a conviction for HS 11378 means the defendant is not eligible for drug diversion instead of jail time.
As you can see, if convicted of an aggravated methamphetamine sales cases, a defendant is facing up to a decade or more in a California state prison.
What are the Related Offenses for HS 11378 Meth Sales?
Health & Safety Code 11351 HS – possession for sales of controlled substance,
Health & Safety Code 11377 HS – possession of methamphetamine,
Health & Safety Code 11370.6 HS – possession of drug money,
Health & Safety Code 11370.9 HS – money laundering with drug sales,
Health & Safety Code 11379 HS – selling or transporting meth,
Health & Safety Code 11379.6 HS – manufacture of controlled substance.
How Can I Fight HS 11378 Possessing Meth for Sale Charges?
One of the most common defenses to HS 11378 is normally an argument on unlawful search and seizure.
If law enforcement seized methamphetamine evidence by unlawful means that were in violation of your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, then that evidence has to be suppressed and can't be used against you.
Law enforcement can't normally search someone without a valid search warrant that was signed by a magistrate which established probable cause.
It should be noted, however, there are some exceptions to this signed search warrant rule. Some exceptions include:
- Evidence in plain view of police;
- Search incident to arrest;
- Gant exception for searching the passenger compartment of an automobile.
It's worth noting that most searches are in fact warrantless searches that are upheld in a California criminal court.
Our experienced Los Angeles criminal attorneys will closely review the specific details in order to determine whether there are any valid challenges that could be successful by filing a California Penal Code 1538.5 PC motion to suppress.
Fighting the Crucial Factor of “Intent” to Sell Meth
Any prosecution for HS 11378 possession of meth for sale requires proving the crucial “intent” element.
If you possessed the meth for personal use only, then you could face prosecution of the lesser charge of simple drug possession defined under Health and Safety Code 11377.
Clearly, a simple drug possession charge is more favorable than a drug possession with intent to sell charge. Not only are the penalties less severe, an HS 11377 conviction means you would be eligible for a drug treatment diversion programs. You would also have the opportunity to have:
- the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, and
- serve any jail time in a county jail rather than a California state prison.
Thus, a common defense against criminal charges of meth sales under HS 11378 is to argue that while you may have possessed methamphetamine, it was only for personal use and not for sales.
The chances of this type of defense to succeed will depend on whether there is evidence of drug sales activity. As stated above, this of course includes the:
- quantity of the methamphetamine in question,
- whether there were large amounts of cash, and
- the presence of paraphernalia of sales such as baggies and scales.
Contact Cron, Israels & Stark for Help
If you or a family member has been charged with methamphetamine sales in violation of Health and Safety Code Section 11378, contact our office to review the details and options.
Our experienced team of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will start preparing a strategy for best possible outcome on the case.
We might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even a case dismissal.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a team of skilled criminal defense lawyers located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
We also have an office located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our office for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.