Selling, Distributing, Transporting or Importing Cocaine or Cocaine Base - HS 11352 and 11352(b)

Transporting or importing cocaine or cocaine base for sale or distribution (trafficking) is a felony under California Health and Safety Code, Section 11352, punishable by up to three, four or five years in prison and fines of up to $20,000, for quantities up to one kilogram. *Additional penalties and fines could apply for amounts in excess of one kilogram. Even transportation for personal use can result in a prison term of up to five years. If convicted for transporting between counties that do not border each other, the prison term increases to a maximum of nine years [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Section 1352(b)].

ADDITIONAL PENALTIES AND SENTENCING ENHANCEMENTS

There are increased penalties for conviction of these crimes based on the weight of the drugs confiscated. For example, for heroin and cocaine base, prison exposure increases with the amount of drugs. The amounts are determined by kilograms. If the substance exceeds one kilogram by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of three years. For four kilograms by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of five years; 10 kilograms, 10 years; 20 kilograms, 15 years; 40 kilograms, 20 years, and 80 kilograms, 25 years.

HS 11372 also allows the court to impose additional fines-- -from $20,000 to $8,000,000 in addition to the term of imprisonment. In no event shall a fine be levied in lieu of or in substitution for the term of imprisonment provided by law for any of these offenses.

SENTENCING ENHANCEMENTS

In addition to the additional prison terms and fines listed above, California increases penalties for cocaine and other controlled substances based on the following aggravating criteria: prior criminal records, location of the crime (e.g. school areas), and whether minors are involved. For example, inducing a minor to participate in any cocaine or cocaine base felonies is a violation of HS 11353, punishable by an additional three, six or nine years in prison. Other additional penalties might be triggered by possession or use of a firearm during the commission of a drug crime (Smith v. United States), possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of weighing devices, as well as other aggravating circumstances such as previous convictions for drug crimes and other related prior convictions. Additionally, there are different degrees of violation in regards to these statutes. Some of these have been brought as far as the United States Supreme Court. For example, DePierre v. United States established that there is no statutory difference between cocaine and cocaine base crimes that could lead to additional penalties in federally charged cases.

Possession of these controlled substances place individuals at great risk of extensive incarceration and monetary fines. While there is national discussion around changing the penalties for possession of these controlled substances, these draconian punishments still exist in California. If law enforcement detains a person for possession of selling cocaine, distributing cocaine, importing cocaine, or transporting cocaine, the person is still subject to substantial punishment.

Attorney Lauren K Johnson has successfully represented many clients charged with Possession of Cocaine and related crimes. Contact us today to discuss the defenses in your case.

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