Posted on April 22, 2015

California H.S. § 11352: Transportation of a Controlled Substance

Transportation of a controlled substance carries a prison sentence and is not subject to reduction via Proposition 47. Consequently, one faces a felony conviction and potentially having to register as a narcotics offender with local law enforcement. Most cases result in an individual being pulled over by police and a subsequent search reveals one in possession of a controlled substance. Additionally, the law in California permits one to be charged with transportation even when riding a bicycle. A common defense attributable to transportation cases is an unlawful search and or seizure by police officers in violation of your Fourth Amendment right.

Transportation charges carry harsh consequences because law enforcement and prosecutor relate the charge to narcotic sales versus possession for personal use. If one is convicted of transportation, eligibility of drug treatment programs or diversion is generally unavailable as opposed to someone who has been arrested for simple possession. However, a skilled criminal drug charges attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge making drug programs eligible resulting in a dismissal of the charge(s) upon successful completion.

Los Angeles Drug Crimes Lawyer

Don’t assume that because you have been arrested, you are guilty of this charge. The best approach to defeating drug charges is early intervention by a criminal defense attorney. Los Angeles Drug Crimes Attorney John Rogers has extensive experience representing clients accused of numerous drug charges with a proven successful track record. Mr. Rogers may be able to avoid formal criminal charges by communicating with the prosecutor at the earliest possible stages and agreeing to an informal resolution. Contact Mr. Rogers immediately for more information to defeating your drug charge.

Charge Defined by California Statute

In California, transportation of a controlled substance is governed under Health & Safety Code § 11352(a) which provides in pertinent part, “Every person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport … is guilty under this code section.”

Elements of the Crime

According to CALCRIM 2300, in order to prove someone is guilty of transportation of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant sold, furnished, administered, gave away, or transported a controlled substance
  2. Defendant knew of its presence
  3. Defendant knew of the nature and character as a controlled substance
  4. The controlled substance was an illicit narcotic substance
  5. The substance was a usable quantity

What are the Legal Defenses to Transportation of a Controlled Substance?

  • Usable Amount: In order for someone to be found guilty of a drug possession or sales charge, the substance must be a useable quantity. Mere residue will not suffice.
  • Unlawful Search & Seizure: You have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures from the police. For instance, your attorney can claim that police officers did not have probable cause to search your vehicle or detain you in the first place. In the event the Police violated your Fourth Amendment right, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence – i.e., substance. If the court grants the suppression motion, the substance cannot be used as evidence and the prosecutor will be unable to proceed with the case against you.
  • No Vehicle Movement: This crimes requires movement and only minimal. If for example, the vehicle was not moving but instead idling or parked, then you are not guilty of transportation.
  • Lack of Knowledge: If someone does not know they’re in possession of a substance or paraphernalia, then they are not guilty of a drug offense. For instance, a friend left a cocaine in the backseat of your vehicle without your knowledge.

What is the Punishment for Transportation of a Controlled Substance?

Transportation of a controlled substance is a felony offense that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. Additionally, certain factors may increase one’s exposure requiring additional prison time. Generally, if convicted under this statute, one faces consequences of:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years in California state prison
  • Formal Probation / Parole Supervision
  • Court Fines and Fees
  • Register as a Narcotics Offender
  • Temporary Loss of Search & Seizure Rights
  • Narcotics Classes / Counseling
  • Immigration Consequences

Types of Controlled Substances

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Medication
  • Psilocybin Mushrooms
  • Concentrated Cannabis

What does “Transportation” mean?

Transportation is formally defined by P.C. § 11352(c) which requires that transportation must be for the purposes of sale. Usually, one is charged with transportation with a substantial quantity that is typically beyond normal personal consumption. But this standard is often exaggerated by law enforcement.

Los Angeles Drug Expungement

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In California, pursuant to P.C. § 1203.4 transportation of a controlled substance is eligible to be expunged upon successful completion of your sentence. However, certain limitations apply such as if you served a state prison sentence, then you are ineligible for expungement relief. Expunging your drug charge has benefits mostly within the private employment sector. Moreover, private employers cannot hold a criminal conviction against you if your conviction has been expunged. Contact Mr. Rogers for more information regarding your eligibility to expunge your transportation conviction.

Examples

Dan was driving his car on a Los Angeles highway. He was stopped by a police officer because he looked suspicious. The police officer asked Dan whether he could search his car. Dan replied, “Yes.” The police officer discovered 4 pounds of marijuana in a duffle bag in Dan’s back seat. Dan was arrested for transportation of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to sell. In this case, Dan will argue a violation of his Fourth Amendment right. Moreover, the police officer did not have ample cause to justify the vehicle stop. Dan did not commit a traffic violation and the police officer solely pulled Dan over because he “looked suspicious.” This would be insufficient to meet constitutional standards. Therefore, the marijuana will be suppressed and the prosecution will be unable to continue and the case will be dismissed.

Dan was parked in a Los Angeles parking lot with the engine running. Police officer walks by Dan’s car and observes 5 pounds of marijuana in the back seat. He arrests Dan for possession with the intent to sell and transportation of a controlled substance. In this case, Dan will not be guilty of transportation because the vehicle was not “moving.” This charge requires movement and instead, Dan was sitting in his idling car in a parking lot.

Dan was pulled over by a Los Angeles police officer and a subsequent search revealed 4 ounces of cocaine in the back seat. The substance actually belonged to Dan’s friend who had left it in Dan’s car without informing Dan. Dan was charged with transportation of a controlled substance. In this case, Dan would not be guilty of transportation of a controlled substance because he lacked the requisite knowledge that the cocaine was in his car to begin with.

Related Offenses

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with transportation of a controlled substance or any other drug crime, contact Los Angeles Drug Crimes Lawyer John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call 877-888-9820 now for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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