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Possession for Sale of Cocaine and Cocaine Base - HS 11351 and 11351.5

Cocaine is a chemical extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine is characterized as a Schedule II controlled substance. Characteristics of the drug that give it this designation are that it has a high potential for abuse, currently accepted for medical use with considerable restrictions, and the abuse of which may lead to sever psychological or physical dependence.

The Controlled Substances Act distinguishes between “cocaine and its salts” and “cocaine base.” However, the United States Supreme Court ruled in DePierre v. United States that coca paste, the chemical intermediate and all forms of cocaine, also qualifies as cocaine base. Thus, statutes that define possession of cocaine base as requiring additional penalties apply to possession to all forms of cocaine.

In order to prove the crime of Possession of Cocaine or Cocaine Base for Sale, the prosecutor must show that an individual possessed the drug, knew it was a controlled substance, and possessed it with the intent to sell it. The facts of the specific case may or may not suggest the drug was possessed for that purpose. Some factors or “indicia” for sale include how the drug was packaged, the amount of the drug the person possessed at the time of arrest, whether the individual had large amounts of cash on their person or bills in an amount corresponding to the packaged amount of the drug, whether they had a scale or other measuring device, and whether there was any evidence of accounting or pay-owe sheets.


Possession or purchase of powder cocaine with intent to sell is a felony punishable by two, three or four years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. Prison terms and fines increase for quantities in excess of one kilogram. [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Sections 11351 and 11370.4, Penal Code, Section 1170]. Additional penalties may include the forfeiture of property, vehicles, and government benefits, as well as lengthy prison or probation terms, hefty fines with additional assessments,


Possession or purchase of up to one kilogram of cocaine base or crack with the intent to sell is a felony punishable by three, four or five years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000 for each offense. [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Sections 11351.5, 11372, and Penal Code, Section 1170(h)].

*Imprisonment and fines increase substantially for quantities over one kilogram: three to 25 additional years incarceration and additional fines up to $8,000,000 [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Sections 11370.4 and 11372].


Some defenses include the person did not possess the drug, they possessed it for personal use, or they did not know they possessed it or that it was the drug. Attorneys will run a suppression motion to suppress the evidence when there was an unlawful search and seizure. Each case varies based on the facts, as does each defense. An individual charged with possession for sale should contact an attorney immediately to begin the process of defending the accusation.

Ms. Johnson-Norris has represented many clients with this charge and with great success. Contact our office today.

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