Since the 1970s the United States has waged a “War on Drugs” in an attempt to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. As a result of the War on Drugs most states, including California, have passed tougher laws relating to the possession, sale, or trafficking in controlled substances. A controlled substance is anything listed in the Controlled Substance Act, or CSA, which was passed by the federal government in 1970. Cocaine is listed as a Schedule II substance in the CSA. If you have been charged with a cocaine-related criminal offense in San Diego you should consult with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney; however, some basic information about the punishment for possession/sale/trafficking cocaine may be helpful as a starting point.
California Health & Safety Code 11350 makes possession of a controlled substance, including cocaine, illegal. In San Diego, possession of a controlled substance is felony offense and if convicted you could be sentenced to either:
- up to a year in the county jail plus probation OR
- a prison term of 16 months, two years, or three years AND
- a fine of up to three years
If you have been charged with possession of cocaine you may be eligible for one of San Diego’s diversion programs. Successful completion of drug court, or another diversion program, means your possession of cocaine charge is dismissed and you will not have a criminal record for that offense.
Cocaine related offenses other than simple possession are more serious, meaning you face additional jail time, a higher fine, and will likely not be eligible for a diversion program option. Possession with intent to sell, for example, carries a potential sentence of two, three or four years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. There are, however, facts and circumstances that can increase the potential punishment for possession with intent to sell. If the amount of cocaine in question is more than a kilogram, for example, the potential fine goes up and the prison sentence increases to anywhere from three years to 25 years. Likewise, the location of a potential sale as well as your own criminal history can increase the potential penalties for possession with intent to sell.
Trafficking in cocaine is the most serious offense in San Diego. California Health & Safety Code 11352 refers to anyone who “transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away, or attempts to import” cocaine. In most cases, this means if you transport or actually sell cocaine you face the most serious penalties which include:
- a prison sentence of three, four or five years without additional factors
- a prison sentence of three, six, or nine years if you transport the drugs across at least two county lines
- a prison sentence of three to 25 years if the amount of cocaine was over one kilogram
If you have been charged with a cocaine-related criminal offense in San Diego it is crucial that you consult with an experienced San Diego drug lawyer as soon as possible to start working on your defense.