There are many different California drug crimes, and they vary widely in their consequences. Some drug charges are taken more seriously than others. Some simple possession offenses carry minimal punishments. Other charges such as the selling or transporting of a controlled substance are aggressively prosecuted and punished severely. Exact ramifications will vary based on what charge the defendant faces as well as their criminal record. The war on drugs has contributed to the great variety of drug offenses, which vary based on what type of drug was involved and the nature of the offense. There are five drug schedules that classify controlled substances. The schedules are based on the substances' approved medical use and their potential for abuse and dependency. Schedule I drugs carry with them a high dependency risk while Schedule V drugs carry with them the least risk of dependency. The classification of a substance is important for the purposes of criminal prosecution of transportation of a controlled substance.
The transporting of a controlled substance in California is illegal in any case, but the punishments for such an offense may vary. Just as different drugs and other controlled substances are scheduled differently, punishments for offenses involving them may be different as well. State and federal laws recognize that different drugs carry with them varying levels of risk. Thus, offenses involving the higher risk drugs are considered more serious than offenses involving the lower risk drugs. In most cases, however, the transportation of a controlled substance is a felony charge punishable by several years of imprisonment. A conviction may also lead to deportation for aliens or immigrants. Under California Health and Safety Code 11352, the transportation of a controlled substance is a felony offense punishable by three, four, or five years in jail, or one year in jail with probation, and/or a fine of up to $20,000. This is the standard punishment for such an offense, but certain circumstances can result in a deviation from this sentencing.
If it is a repeat offense, the judge can automatically add three more years to your sentencing. The volume of drugs you transport may also affect your sentencing. For example, the transportation of or the offering to transport 28.5 grams or less of non-concentrated marijuana is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100. This is the least serious of the drug transportation offenses. The transportation or offering to transport marijuana in all other cases, however, will result in a felony charge, punishable by two, three, or four years of imprisonment. Similarly, you will face an increased sentence if you are transporting over 1kg of heroin, cocaine, or cocaine base, with additional years added to your sentence incrementally with the volume you transport. It is important to note here that the penalties for transporting a controlled substance in California may increase in severity if the substance is transported across noncontiguous county lines. This aggravating factor can result in a sentence of three, six, or nine years of imprisonment. You can also face an increased sentence if you transport a controlled substance across state lines or are arrested within a certain distance from a drug treatment center.
No matter the charge, the transportation of a controlled substance is a serious offense under both state and federal law and, not surprisingly, carries with it harsh penalties. In order to convict you of transportation of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove you either transported or offered to transport a controlled substance, that you were aware of the substance and its controlled nature, and that there was a significant enough amount of the substance to be usable. Trace amounts, such as in the form of a residue from the substance are not enough to convict you. If you were unaware of the substance's illegal nature or were not aware of the substance at all, you cannot be convicted. The exact facts and circumstances of your case will affect the penalties you may face. Consult with a skilled California criminal defense attorney with experience handling drug charge cases. A qualified attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on what charges you may face and the exact penalties those may result in.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are being charged with a drug crime in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can assess your case and advise you on what penalties you may face and how to challenge your charges. Attorney Martens has over ten years of criminal defense experience and will fight hard for your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.