In recent years, state and federal laws have become much more severe with regard to drug crimes as a result of the “War on Drugs” launched in the United States at the end of the 20th century. As a result, the possible penalties for trafficking in California are serious, including a lengthy prison sentence.
If you are arrested in California with a large amount of a controlled substance, or with evidence that suggests you are trafficking in drugs, you could be charged at either the state or the federal level – or both in some cases. 21 U.S.C. § 841 : US Code – Section 841: Prohibited acts A makes it a federal crime to:
“manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance;”
The penalty range for a conviction for trafficking at the federal level depends on a number of factors such as the amount of the drug involved, the type of controlled substance, whether someone was injured, and your prior criminal history. Many federal offenses relating to drug trafficking have strict minimum sentences, meaning you will spend time in prison if convicted.
The State of California has also passed numerous statutes that apply to possession and trafficking in controlled substances. California Health and Safety Code Section 11379 makes it a crime to:
“…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 into this state or transport any controlled substance…”
A person who is convicted under that statute faces a period of imprisonment of two, three or four years. However, as is the case at the federal level, there are factors that could aggravate the offense which will then increase the potential penalties if convicted. California, for example, has a “third strike” law that although very complex could have you facing 25 years to life in prison for a conviction for trafficking if you have twice before been convicted of certain types of serious felonies.
Often, an individual is charged with trafficking in a controlled substance based on nothing more than circumstantial evidence. For example, if the police find scales or baggies along with a small quantity of a controlled substance they may charge you with trafficking despite concrete evidence of the crime. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest for trafficking, you should take the situation very seriously given what is at stake.
An experienced California criminal defense attorney can review your specific situation to determine whether the police violated any of your rights during the investigation and arrest. From there you can decide what your best defense strategy should be.
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