At the Castillo Law Office, we understand that charges for possessing drugs for sale are serious. The consequences for possession of drugs for sale include time in prison, county jail, drug treatment, time under house arrest, and registration as a narcotics offender. Alameda County and the other counties in the San Francisco Bay Area vigorously prosecute drug crimes, particularly sales. You need an Oakland criminal defense attorney with particular experience in defending against drug charges.
Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo has handled numerous serious drug sale cases, and is familiar with all of the defense strategies needed to keep you out of jail for drug sales: medical marijuana recommendation, caregiver, collective, suppression of illegally seized evidence, disclosure of informants, illegal wiretap, bad scientific testing, police misconduct, possession of drugs for personal use, rehabilitation, and diversion.
Possession for sale offenses are found in the California Health and Safety Code. Health and Safety Code section 11351 prohibits the possession for sale of numerous narcotic drugs that are classified in Schedules One through Five. Common narcotic drugs include cocaine, crack, heroin, PCP, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. The sale of marijuana is punished separately under Health and Safety Code section 11359. Punishments for selling drugs are severe: for a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11351, the punishment is two, three, or four years of incarceration, and under Health and Safety Code section 11359, the punishment for possession of marijuana for sale is either 18 months, two years, or three years of incarceration. Both sales offenses cannot be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b). Health and Safety Code section 11352 prohibits the transportation of drugs and has a similar punishment.
Possession of more than a kilo of heroin or cocaine causes even more serious consequences than mere possession for sale. Under Health and Safety Code section 11370.4, punishments can be increased from 3 years up to 25 years for possession for sale of numerous kilos of cocaine and heroin. And while the fine for a violation of possession of cocaine or heroin for sale that is less than a kilo does not exceed $20,000, possession of more than a kilo, depending upon how much, ranges from a permissible fine of $1,000,000 to $8,000,000. Gang enhancements, firearm enhancements, and location near a school enhancements can also increase the possible sentence.
Traditionally, convicted drug offenders, if not granted probation, were sentenced to state prison. That all changed, beginning in 2011. In Brown v. Plata, a federal court found that California prisons were so overcrowded and health services so inadequate that the harsh conditions violated the Eight Amendment prohibition on cruel-and-unusual punishment. Due to the understaffed and overcrowded prisons, the court ordered Governor Jerry Brown to reduce the prison population by tens of thousands, or else the court would do it for him. In response, Governor Brown began shipping inmates to prisons in other states and passed a law known as "Realignment." Under Realignement, most non-strike inmates convicted of felonies serve their sentences at half-time credit in local county jails, not the state prison. Parole violations are also processed in the local courts, and not by the Board of Parole Hearings. What Realignment means is that those convicted of a drug sale offense are eligible for a local sentence served at half-time so long as they have not been convicted of a serious or violent felony under Penal Code sections 1192.7 or 667.5, commonly known as "strikes."
Although drug sale cases are complicated, always carrying a risk of a number of years in custody, there are numerous ways to defend against possession of drugs for sale charges. Experienced Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo will use an aggressive and unique approach to defend your case so that you receive the best possible deal, receive a dismissal, or make an informed decision to take the case to a jury trial.