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Los Angeles Possession With Intent Lawyer

Possessing a controlled substance is a crime in the State of California. Possession of street or prescription drugs with the intention of selling them or having someone else sell them – often called “possession with intent” – is a more serious crime and is always charged as a felony in California.

You may not know that the State does not necessarily need to prove that you had the intent to sell illegal drugs in order to convict you on felony possession charges. The State is only required to show that it is reasonable to assume you had an intent to sell. Therefore, if you were arrested with large amounts of illegal drugs in your possession, or packaged drugs, packaging supplies, or an unusual amount of cash, that could be enough evidence to support felony charges. Even if you did not actually intend to sell a controlled substance, you could be subject to harsh penalties.

However, in these types of drug cases, there are often many available defenses, particularly where the State is relying on circumstantial evidence to make their case. If you are facing these serious charges, an effective Los Angeles possession with an intent lawyer can take advantage of holes in the prosecution’s case to reduce your charges or even avoid them altogether.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession With Intent to Sell in California?

At a minimum, if you are convicted of possession with intent, you can expect to be sentenced to up to four years in a California state prison. The severity of your sentence will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of controlled substance in your possession. In California, drugs are categorized by schedule depending on the danger that the drug poses. The more dangerous the drug is, the higher your sentence is likely to be. For example, a conviction for possession with intent to sell Schedule 1 drugs such as LSD or heroin will generally result in harsher penalties than other types of controlled substances.
  • The quantity of a controlled substance in your possession. Having more than 1 kilogram of a controlled substance will add at least three years to your prison sentence. Penalties will increase for each additional kilogram, up to 25 years for 80 kilograms.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia or packaging materials. If you are also found in possession of materials that can be used for packaging drugs for sale, such as baggies, scales, or other tools or paraphernalia, your sentence may be increased.
  • Prior drug convictions. If you have previously been convicted of drug-related offenses, you will likely face harsher penalties. You should also be aware that a felony possession conviction is subject to California’s “three strikes” law, which could result in lifetime imprisonment if you have multiple felonies on your record.

Defenses to Drug Possession with Intent Charges

To convict you for possession with intent, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  • You knew that you possessed a controlled substance;
  • You intended to sell the drug or have someone else sell it; AND
  • You had a usable amount of the controlled substance.

If the prosecutor cannot prove each of these elements, you are not guilty of possession with intent. Just remember, some prosecutors will still go forward with the case even if there is a doubt about proving every part of their case. This should not happen, but it does. They can, and often do, see things very differently from defense attorneys. If the case is weak in one area, they might offer a favorable plea. This is typical. They might also dismiss the case, which does not happen that often. Your attorney can make a motion to dismiss at the preliminary hearing if the evidence is not sufficient. If denied, your attorney can also make a motion to dismiss to another judge after the preliminary hearing. If your attorney cannot get the charges dismissed and you do not want to accept a plea bargain, then you have a right to a jury trial. We have multiple not guilty verdicts on possession of narcotics for sales cases.

The saying “you are presumed innocent” really only attaches when you go to trial. Even though there are risks, now you have full trial rights. At trial, the prosecutor is no longer all-powerful. The jury, 12 of them need to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

It can be very difficult to satisfy this burden of proof in a possession with intent cases. A knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney can make the State’s job even more difficult by raising reasonable doubts. For example, your attorney may be able to argue that:

  • The drugs were intended for personal use.
  • You did not know about the presence of the drugs or what they were.
  • You did not actually have drugs in your possession or have control of the drugs.
  • You can also file a motion and have a hearing on whether the police acted lawfully in searching and/or questioning you. 

Your attorney may also be able to weaken the State’s case by arguing that the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. Without this evidence, the charges against you could be dismissed.

Call the Law Office of Adrian M. Baca Today

If you have been charged with possession with intent, you need an experienced Los Angeles possession with an intent lawyer to review your case and help you understand your options. The Law Office of Adrian M. Baca has many years of experience defending against serious felony drug charges. We offer a same-day return of all calls and a free initial consultation.

Contact us today.