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Sale and Transportation of a Controlled Substance

The sale or transportation of controlled substances is a criminal offense in California. There are a number of statutes that specifically forbid the sale or transportation of drugs, based on the specific controlled substances involved. Illegal transportation of drugs is not limited to street drugs like heroin or cocaine, it also includes prescription drugs that are transported without a valid prescription or the sale of prescription drugs. Drug transportation is a felony offense and could result in up to 9 years in jail. If you are facing drug transportation charges, contact your experienced East Bay criminal defense attorney.

Transporting Drugs Within California

It is a criminal offense to transport, import into California, sell, furnish, administer, give away, or offer to transport specified controlled substances without a valid prescription. Aiding and abetting, or conspiring to transport drugs is also a criminal offense. This includes transportation of:

  • Opiates
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Depressants
  • Cocaine
  • Peyote
  • Hallucinogens
  • LSD
  • PCP
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Methamphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Marijuana concentrates

California Health and Safety Code 11352

Transportation of most controlled substances is a violation of California Health and Safety Code 11352. However, there are separate provisions against the transportation of methamphetamines and marijuana. Transportation of a controlled substance does not require a long transit from one part of the state to another. Even moving drugs a short distance from one location to another is considered transportation.

In order to prove a defendant guilty of transportation of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove: 

  1. The defendant sold, furnished, gave away, imported into California, or transported a controlled substance;
  2. The defendant knew of the drug's presence;
  3. The defendant knew of the drug's nature as a controlled substance; and
  4. The controlled substance was one of the regulated drugs.

Penalties for Drug Transportation in California

Penalties for drug transportation depend on the amount of drugs involved, the individual's criminal history, and whether any other criminal activity was taking place. Transporting a controlled substance is a felony. Penalties include 3, 4, or 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $20,000. Transporting drugs from one county to another noncontiguous county is punishable by 3, 6, or 9 years in prison.

There are a number of aggravating factors that the sentencing court can consider when imposing a sentence. Aggravating factors can increase the potential penalties involved. This includes selling or administering drugs to someone under the age of 18.

In addition to prison time and fines, the court can impose a number of parole conditions after the individual is released from prison. This includes required check-ins with a parole officer, avoiding contact with certain individuals, required drug testing, and submitting to random searches. A felony conviction may also impact your rights to own a gun, right to serve on a jury, and make it more difficult to find a job.

Marijuana Transportation in California

Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use under Proposition 64. However, it is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government. The use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana is still regulated by the state of California. The sale and transport for sale of marijuana is still illegal under California Health and Safety Code 11360.

With some exceptions for primary caregivers transporting medical marijuana for patients, transporting marijuana for sale in California can lead to criminal penalties. The sale or transport for sale of marijuana without a license is a misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Transportation of marijuana can be charged as a felony for individuals with prior convictions, violent felony convictions, or registered sex offenders. It may also be a felony to sell or offer marijuana to minors under the age of 18. Penalties for felony marijuana transportation or sales include up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Methamphetamine Transportation in California

The sale, transport for sale, giving away, or administering methamphetamines is a felony under California Health and Safety Code 11379. The penalties for transporting methamphetamines may result in 2, 3, or 4 years in prison. Similarly, transporting meth from one county to another noncontiguous county is punishable by 3, 6, or 9 years in prison.

Controlled Substances Act

Controlled substances in the U.S. are classified by the federal government. Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), drugs are categorized based on their medical uses, the potential for abuse, and safety level. However, many have criticized how specific drugs are categorized under this system. Marijuana, although legal for recreational and medical use in California, is still classified as Schedule I--the same classification as heroin.

There are 5 schedules of controlled substances under the CSA. Schedule I are generally considered more dangerous, with Schedule V substances considered the least dangerous.

  • Schedule I drugs are considered to have no valid medical purpose with a high potential for abuse. This includes MDMA, mescaline, GHB, LSD, and marijuana.
  • Schedule II drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse as well as a currently accepted medical value. This includes Percocet, fentanyl, morphine, methamphetamines, and OxyContin.
  • Schedule III drugs are considered to have a currently accepted medical use with some potential for abuse, but are considered safer than Schedule I or II drugs. These include commonly prescribed steroids, antidepressants, and appetite suppressants.
  • Schedule IV and V drugs are considered to have a lower potential for abuse than the other schedule drugs. These include a number of common prescription drugs, like Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Ativan, and prescription cough medicine.

Defenses to Drug Transportation Charges

There are a number of possible defenses to drug transportation charges. This includes not knowing there were drugs present, you had a valid prescription, or the drug was not a controlled substance under the law. Talk to your attorney about the defenses available in your case. Your attorney will review the criminal police records, investigate your case, and identify your best defenses.

East Bay Drug Crime Lawyer

Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients accused of drug transportation and drug sales. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, keeping her clients out of jail and maintaining a clean record. Whether you are arrested in Oakland, Richmond or anywhere else in Contra Costa or Alameda Counties, contact Lynn Gorelick understands you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.

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We offer a free initial consultation to people accused of DUI and criminal offenses in the Bay Area. Call us at 510-785-1444 to schedule yours.

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