Possession of Drugs For Sale
The police can arrest for drugs for sale under California law based upon a search, or a warrant (including a signed arrest warrant or a warrant based upon an informant), or based upon either direct observation, or probable cause (which in turn is defined as a “reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is occurring”).
The catch all term “Drugs” includes many illegal narcotics, as well as prescription drugs. It also includes marijuana, which, like prescription narcotics, is only legal under California law to dispense with a valid dispensary license, and legal to have in your possession only if you have a valid doctor’s prescription.
California law certainly treats narcotics differently, including whether or not they are considered for sale, based upon what the narcotic is. Certain amounts of marijuana, for example, that may be considered a large quantity, might be treated as sufficient for personal use. With harder drugs the police are going to treat even smaller amounts as sufficient to meet a possession for sale charge.
The police look for, in a Health and Safety Code possession for sale charge, what is called in the law “indicia of sale”. Phone calls, messages, texts to various people, the use of scales or baggies to segregate quantities, use of a buy and sell log or diary, or explicit actions or language indicating sales are often used. The quantity is certainly important — when you are found to have a large amount of drugs on you, no matter the kind, there are significantly more legal issues that arise in trying to claim it is for personal use, and not for sale.
California has a specific crime for possession of drugs for sale. However, the crime itself also goes by several other common names:
- Possession of Drugs With Intent to Sell
- Possession of Drugs With Intent to Distribute
- Possession of Narcotics/Intent to Sell
It is important to note that you can be charged with possession of drugs for sale even if you intend to distribute them for no income, or give them away. Most jurisdictions do not see a difference because it is the intent – not the actual profit – that is criminalized.
Possession of drugs for sale can be incredibly hard to fight, but it is not impossible. You need to have a good lawyer with an expertise in the area of drug law. This makes it significantly more likely that you will be able to reduce the charges or get rid of them completely. A private attorney might be able to show additional evidence, or argue, to convince the prosecution that the crime is possession, which is a crime subject to diversion under California Penal Code section 1000, and not possession for sales.