The law in California makes it a felony to possess certain controlled substances in order to sell them. Such substances include cocaine, heroin, LSD, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine. But unless someone is caught “red-handed” selling a drug, how can the “intent to sell” be proven?
In other words, if you are arrested while you are in possession of illegal drugs, how do the police know whether the drugs were for your personal use or whether you intended instead to sell the drugs to others? Can an Orange County drug crimes law firm help?
WHEN IS SOMEONE CHARGED WITH THE INTENT TO SELL ILLEGAL DRUGS?
An intent to sell charge is often based on circumstantial evidence. When a suspect is arrested in California with a large quantity of illegal drugs, prosecutors will charge that suspect with the intent to sell if there are “indicia” or indications of drug sales. These indications may include:
- The packaging of drugs for individual sales: How a controlled substance has been packaged by a suspect can be the most damaging evidence in an intent to sell case.
- The quantity of the drugs possessed by the suspect: If someone possesses substantially more drugs than an “average” user would normally consume in a “reasonable” amount of time, that person will probably be charged and prosecuted for the intent to sell.
- Paraphernalia associated with drug sales: Drug paraphernalia typically includes items like pipes and syringes, but if a suspect is also in possession of drug scales, baggies, and other items associated with drug sales, that person will likely be charged with the intent to sell.
- A large amount of cash: If the police discover an extraordinarily large amount of cash along with a substantial quantity of illegal drugs, they will presume that the cash is from drug sales, and the suspect will probably be charged and prosecuted for the intent to sell.
- If neighbors or informants report that large numbers of people enter and then quickly leave a residence, the police and prosecutors will presume that drug sales were the reason for so much activity at the residence.
WHAT MUST THE STATE PROVE TO CONVICT YOU FOR THE INTENT TO SELL?
To convict you for the intent to sell, the state does not need to prove that you in fact sold drugs but only that you intended to make drug sales.
Here, precisely, is what the state must prove:
- You purchased and/or possessed the illegal drug.
- You knew the drug was a controlled substance.
- You possessed the drug in sufficient quantities to sell it.
- You purchased and/or possessed the drugs with the intent to sell or resell them.
California police and prosecutors rely on several tools to establish an intent to sell. The state may call an “expert” witness – typically, an experienced narcotics officer – to offer an opinion (based on the circumstantial evidence) that the drugs were going to be sold rather than consumed.
CHARGED WITH A DRUG CRIME? WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP?
If you are charged with any drug crime in California – whether it’s a simple possession charge or intent to sell – you must be advised and represented by an accomplished Orange County criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience defending clients charged with drug crimes.
If you are charged with the possession of illegal drugs in a small quantity for personal use, you may have a couple of legal options; you may qualify for a diversion program or a drug court program. Your DUI attorney will explain your options and describe how diversion programs work.
However, if you are arrested while you are in possession of illegal drugs in a larger quantity:
- You will probably be charged with the intent to sell.
- You will not be eligible to take advantage of a diversion or drug court program
- If you are convicted for the intent to sell, you may face serious criminal penalties.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES IF YOU’RE CONVICTED FOR INTENT TO SELL?
Because so many variables are involved in each case, it is impossible to know in advance exactly what the penalty may be for anyone who is convicted of the intent to sell illegal drugs in California.
The severity of the sentence that follows a conviction will depend on:
- what the drug is and what quantity the defendant possessed and intended to sell
- whether or not minors or firearms were linked to the crime in any way
- the defendant’s prior criminal convictions, if any
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO AN INTENT TO SELL CHARGE?
How will a California criminal defense lawyer defend someone who is charged with the intent to sell illegal drugs? The defense strategy that is most appropriate will depend on the details of the individual case, but commonly-used defenses to the charge include:
- There were no controlled substances.
- The controlled substances were not the defendant’s.
- The controlled substances were for the defendant’s personal use.
- The defendant did not know that the controlled substances were there.
- The controlled substances were discovered in an illegal search and/or seizure.
- The evidence against the defendant has been falsified by the police.
HOW WILL A DEFENSE LAWYER FIGHT ON YOUR BEHALF?
If you are charged in California with the intent to sell illegal drugs, here are some of the questions that your defense attorney will ask – and will demand answers for:
- Were your rights violated by police officers in any way?
- Was a search warrant legally and properly obtained?
- If police informants are involved in the case, are they reliable?
- Were the laws against entrapment violated?
- Is the circumstantial evidence sufficient to indicate an intent to sell?
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT A DRUG CRIMES LAW FIRM?
Drug laws in California are not only complicated, but they are also constantly changing.
That’s another reason why you must contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney immediately – and get the legal help you will very much need – if you are arrested for:
- possession of illegal drugs
- intent to sell illegal drugs
- trafficking, cultivating, or manufacturing illegal drugs
If you are charged with any crime, a good defense attorney’s help is your right. If you are charged with a drug crime in this state, you must exercise that right – without delay – and contact a top-rated criminal defense attorney at once. Your future will depend on it.