Charged With Possession With Intent To Sell In California?

[playht_listen_button]In California, the law’s treatment of charges for possession of illegal drugs varies based on the type of drug, the amount of drug, and the reason for having it. Possession of moderate amounts for personal use is generally a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. These cases can be rather straightforward, typically just requiring the prosecution to establish that the defendant possessed the illegal drug. Possession of the same drug in larger amounts, though, could result in a more complicated case.

The charge of possession with intent to sell can be a misdemeanor or felony and can carry a prison sentence of many years. As you might imagine, these cases require additional proof to prosecute. Part of the challenge for prosecutors who try to bring this more serious charge is that they must prove that the defendant actually intended to sell the drugs.

Evidence Of Intent To Sell

The crime sometimes can be tricky to prove because alleged drug dealers often are not caught in the act of conducting a drug sale. Usually, police and prosecutors have to build their case of an intent to sell based on circumstantial evidence—as in, facts that point to the intent to sell drugs rather than direct evidence of a sale. Some evidence of possession with intent to sell might include:

  • An amount of drugs that is much larger than one person could consume in a reasonable time
  • Drugs already packaged in individual amounts, or packaging materials found with the drugs in the person’s possession
  • Large amounts of cash that indicate sales have occurred and money has transferred
  • Scales or other measuring devices to divide the drugs up into smaller amounts
  • Signs of contact with customers (for example, people regularly coming to the house or text messages indicating drug transactions)

While, on their own, these pieces of evidence might not necessarily seem to indicate an intent to sell, police investigators often find many of these things together. These facts can comprise the circumstantial evidence that helps them to build the case that the person they are charging with possession had the intent to sell the drugs.

Potential Punishments

A conviction of possession with intent to sell can result in a prison sentence of two, three, or four years. For those with prior convictions, California’s “three strikes” law may call for more severe penalties, and longer prison terms, with each additional felony conviction.

Possession With Intent To Sell Marijuana

Due to recent changes in state laws, possession with intent to sell marijuana is treated differently than other drugs in the state. California law says that the punishment for possession of marijuana with intent to sell must be “in proportion to the seriousness of the offense.” Unlike for other drugs, this is a misdemeanor that can be punished by a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Defenses To The Charges

Some of the strongest potential defenses include questions of facts and evidence. These may include:

Challenges To Possession

If the defendant can show that the drugs or other evidence in support of the charges were found somewhere that more than one person had access to, this can destabilize the prosecution’s argument that the defendant possessed the drugs. It can make it very hard to prove which of the people with access actually put the drugs or evidence there.

Challenges To Intent To Sell

If the substances could have been for personal use, the required element of intent may be difficult to prove. Perhaps the defendant aimed to get a larger amount of the drug and save money through a bulk purchase. They may have bought enough of the drug to last for many months of personal use.

Challenges To Circumstantial Evidence

Sometimes, there can be more than one explanation for evidence. For example, large amounts of cash could indicate drug sales, but it also could be cash payment from legal employment. Because of this, evidence must be clearly and directly linked to provable criminal activity to establish the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Since the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, there often can be quite a few ways to defend against criminal charges of possession of drugs with intent to sell. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help to assess your situation and present the strongest case against these serious charges.

California Drug Possession Lawyer

It is My Rights Law‘ mission to defend those facing drug crimes including possession with intent to sell. Our California drug crime attorneys will do everything in our power to help you fight these charges. To learn more about how the criminal defense lawyers at My Rights Law can help you in your criminal case, reach out to us by calling (888) 702-8882 or by contacting us online.