7 Things You Didn’t Know About “Possession For Sale” Charges

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What is Drug Trafficking or Possesion for Sale?

Drug trafficking is the trade or dealing of illicit drugs and/or the sale or exchange of drugs. In California, Under Health and safety code section 11351  1 , possession for sale of narcotics is a felony which usually carries with it prison time.  Drug trafficking charges can be the result of transporting, buying or selling of any controlled substance or illegal drug.  This includes, but is not limited to; marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, ecstasy and hallucinogens. Unfortunately many innocent people get accused of HS 11351 when, in fact, they only possessed the drugs for personal use. Health & Safety Code Section 11351 includes OVER one hundred (100) specifically named controlled substances, including, but not limited to:

  • Opiates and Opium derivatives, including: Codeine methylbromide, Codeine Methylbromide, Desomorphine, Heroin, Methyldihydromorphine, Morphine methylbromide, Myrophine, Nicocodeine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Dihydrocodeine, Methadone, Psilocybin (mushrooms), et al.
  • Hallucinogenic Substances, including: Dimethoxy-Amphetamine, Marijuana, Mescaline, Peyote, Psilocybin, Gamma hydroxybutyric acid, Cocaine, Cocaine base, Fenethylline, Ethylamphetamine, et al.
  • Stimulants, including: Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Dimethylamphetamine, Benzphetamine, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, “molly”), et al.
  • Depressants, in any compound or mixture, including: Amobarbital, Phenylcyclohexyl Piperidine (PCP), Pphenylcyclohexyl Morpholine (PCM), Piperidinocyclohexane Carbonitrile (PCC), Lysergic acid, et al.
  • Steroids, in any compound or mixture, including: Androisoxazole, Dihydromesterone, Nandrolone, Testosterone, Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC), Ketamine.

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How Does the Prosecutor Prove the Charge?

myth facts

If you are charged with possessing cocaine (for example), a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove the following to establish that you are guilty under Health & Safety Code 11351:

  • The defendant [unlawfully] possessed a controlled substance;
  • The defendant knew of its presence;
  • The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance;
  • When the defendant possessed the controlled substance, (he/she) intended to sell it;
  • The controlled substance was (cocaine, for example)


  • The controlled substance was in a usable amount.

Example: Lady is addicted to codeine. She is approached by John, who has a large quantity of prescription cold medicine with codeine in his possession. John offers Lady a few bottles of the prescription in exchange for sex, and Lady agrees.  Based on these circumstances, the prosecutor IS likely able to prove John guilty under Health & Safety Code section 11351, in addition to a prostitution charge. This is because selling, under this charge, means exchanging a listed controlled substance for money, services, or anything of value.

Example: Again, Lady is addicted to codeine.  She is approached by John, who instead, has a few drops left from a bottle of prescription cold medicine with codeine in his possession. John offers Lady a drop of the prescription in exchange for sex, and Lady agrees.  Based on these circumstances, the prosecutor IS NOT likely able to prove John guilty under Health & Safety Code section 11351. This is because a usable amount is a quantity that is enough to be used by someone as a controlled substance. Useless traces or debris of a controlled substance are NOT usable amounts. However, a usable amount does not have to be enough, in either amount or strength, to affect the user.

Example: This time, John and Lady are driving around their neighborhood, looking for Anna, who often buys codeine from John. John has already agreed to split the profits with Lady, if she helps him to find Anna. John and Lady see Anna, and pull over to the curb to talk to her about the prescription medicine in John’s backseat.  While talking to Anna out of the car window, a police officer pulls up behind their car, and arrests John and Lady.  Based on the circumstances, the prosecutor IS likely able to prove John AND Lady guilty under Health & Safety Code section 11351. This is because two or more people may possess something at the same time. A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has control over it/the right to control it, either personally or through another person.

Legal Defenses

Below are legal defenses to a charge under Health & Safety Code Section 11351:

You did not Possess the Controlled Substance: The first element of this charge is that you must POSSESS the controlled substance. Therefore, if you did not actually possess (which means having the substance at the present moment or in hand) the controlled substance, or even constructively possess the controlled substance (which signifies storing the substance somewhere else other than on hand, but still having control over it..), then you have not committed a violation under the essence of this law.

You did NOT INTEND to sell the Controlled Substance:  The similarly related Health & Safety Code section 11350 criminalizes possession of a controlled substance, however, Health & Safety Code section 11351 goes one step further—it includes intent to sell. In addition to possessing the controlled substance, you must ALSO possess the requisite INTENT to sell that same controlled substance.

You were a victim of ENTRAPMENT by law enforcement officials: The act of law enforcement officers or government agents a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead.  Entrapment is an effective legal defense if the commission or encouragement of the criminal act originated with the police or government agents, instead of with the “criminal.”

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE against you: A diligent and conscientious defense attorney can show the prosecutor that they do not have enough evidence to convict you under the law of Health & Safety Code § 11351. This can be done with mitigating evidence or proof that not all elements of the crime were met by showing that the evidence submitted is either insufficient or insubstantial.


  • A Felony Conviction
  • 1 year in the county jail, along with 3-5 years probation
  • Fines up to $20,000, a precise amount as determined by the court
  • Community Service, an amount as determined by the court
  • 2-4 years in prison, as specifically enumerated under Section 11351

This charge is a felony and carries all the weight and stigma of being deemed a “felon” under the eyes of the law, including but not limited to: Lose right to possess firearm, lose right to vote, lose right to sit on a jury, lose right to hold public office, must provide law enforcement with DNA sample, immigration consequences, as a drug abuser, if you are a noncitizen.

Related Offenses


  • IS NOT eligible for an Deferred Entry of Judgment sentence,
  • IS NOT a “strikeable” offense,
  • DOES require registration as a drug offender,
  • IS NOT eligible for Proposition 36-diversion sentence.

Possible Immigration Consequences

IS bar from relief from removal proceedings

  • Under the law, “any alien who at any time after admission has been convicted of a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21), other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana, is deportable.” 8 U.S.C. § 1127(a)(2)(B)(i). “Drug addicts and abusers are deportable and inadmissible even without a conviction. Likewise, those who the government has reason to believe are or were drug traffickers or their assistants are inadmissible, even without conviction. 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B)(ii).

IS considered an aggravated felony” for immigration purposes

  • Aggravated Felony: This is a predetermined category of crimes that, include both misdemeanor and felony offenses, which can bar a noncitizen from utilizing many different forms of immigration benefits. If you are convicted of a crime that is automatically considered an aggravated felony, it will likely subject you to removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Here, a conviction under Section 11351, depending on the circumstances, IS considered an aggravated felony.

IS considered a crime of moral turpitude” for immigration purposes

  • Crime of Moral Turpitude: This includes crimes, which are considered to be objectively morally inexcusable, which includes both misdemeanor and felony offenses. Any offense which is “shocking to the conscious” of the average person can bar a noncitizen from utilizing many different forms of immigration benefits.  If you are convicted of a crime that is automatically considered a crime of moral turpitude, it will likely subject you to removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Here, a conviction under Section 11351, depending on the circumstances, IS considered a crime of moral turpitude.

How We Can Help

Hiring the right drug trafficking attorney in Los Angeles can make the difference between going to state prison and having your case dismissed entirely. You need to be sure that the drug trafficking attorney you hire can devote the time necessary to get you the best result possible. If you feel like you are just another case to your law firm then you will not go to court confident in your defense. A well versed  lawyer may be able to deal with your charges without ever actually going to trial. The Los Angeles drug trafficking attorneys at the Aizman Law Firm have the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to successfully fight your case. We have the industry’s best team of former prosecutors, experts, investigators and researchers working to protect your rights. If you need a great defense against drug trafficking charges we can make sure you are satisfied. A drug trafficking conviction can have a major impact on the rest of your life. In many instances a conviction will lead to jail and/or prison time. A drug trafficking lawyer from Aizman Law Firm has the experience to handle your case. Let a specialist in drug trafficking law handle your case and know that it has been taken care of in a professional and caring way.2

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  1. California health and safety code section 11351 – Except as otherwise provided in this division, every person who possesses for sale or purchases for purposes of sale (1) any controlled substance specified in subdivision (b), (c), or (e) of Section 11054, specified in paragraph (14), (15), or (20) of subdivision (d) of Section 11054, or specified in subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11055, or specified in subdivision (h) of Section 11056, or (2) any controlled substance classified in Schedule III, IV, or V which is a narcotic drug, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for two, three, or four years. []
  2. We fight for cases in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Woodland Hills, Agourra Hills, Calabasas, Burbank, Torrance, San Bernardino, Sherman Oaks, Long Beach, Studio City, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Westwood, Encino, Van Nuys, Ventura, Riverside, and Orange County. []