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Drug Possession & Transportation

San Diego Drug Possession and Transportation Attorney

San Diego is a border city and county, a stone’s throw away from Tijuana, Mexico.  As such, it should come as no surprise that transporting a controlled substance is a common felony charge which can lead to serious consequences for those accused, particularly those convicted.  Contrary to popular belief, transportation and distribution charges are not reserved only for large-scale smuggling operations.  Law enforcement tends to target average citizens suspected of moving even small amounts of controlled substances when the primary purpose is for sale.  California Health and Safety Code sections 11352, HS 11378, and HS 11379 make it a crime to transport, sell, or give away even small amounts of controlled substances.

San Diego Drug Transportation, Distribution and Possession for Sales Laws

Transportation, distribution and possession for sales can encompass a wide range of situations.  In San Diego County, we see charges under HS 11351, HS 11352, HS 11378, or HS 11379 for performing, attempting, or offering any of the following activities:

  • Importing controlled substances
  • Transporting controlled substances for sale
  • Selling controlled substances
  • Administering controlled substances
  • Giving away controlled substances
  • Possessing it with the intent to sell
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People with no criminal history can face transportation and distribution charges for moving controlled substances over short distances, if a prosecutor believes it can be proven the primary purpose of the transportation was for sale.  Any time a person transports a controlled substance from one place to another they can face arrest and criminal charges.  Transportation can be by vehicle, bicycle, and even on foot.  Amounts small enough to fit within your pockets can lead to transportation charges with severe sentences for those convicted.

In the State of California, controlled substances are a broad category including, but not limited to:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD
  • Prescription medications

Penalties for Drug Transportation, Distribution and Possession for Sales in San Diego


Such controlled substances felony charges can lead to life-changing consequences for those convicted.  California law aims to punish those in the supply chain (that move and distribute) with harsher penalties than those who simply use the drugs.  The severity of charges, and the potential consequences upon a conviction, will vary based on circumstances unique to your case, but primary factors include:

  • The supposed amount and type of controlled substance
  • Your alleged role and intent in transporting a substance
  • The knowledge, skill, and experience of your defense attorney

The prosecution is supposed to only file cases they have a good faith believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  In order to obtain a conviction, the DA will attempt to prove:

  1. The accused offered to, attempted to, or did commit the charged act
  2. Had knowledge that the controlled substance was present (although knowledge of the specific kind of controlled substance is not required)
  3. There was enough of the controlled substance to be considered a “useable amount”

Think you cannot be charged with transportation and distribution if you are not in possession of a controlled substance?  Think again!  The prosecution can and will seek charges against those suspected of exercising control over locations in which controlled substances can be obtained.  This could be the owner of a home or vehicle used to store or distribute controlled substances.  You can also be charged with transportation or distribution as an aider and abettor, even if you never possess the drugs yourself.  This “accomplice liability” theory means that if you help in the illegal act with the intent to accomplish the criminal goal and are in fact helpful, it is just like you were transporting or possessing the drugs.

The penalties for transportation and distribution can be harsh.  Those facing charges are looking at:

  • 5 years in custody or more depending on the amount of drugs involved
  • Probation or post-release supervision, and their corresponding fines and fees
  • Court-ordered classes and counseling
  • Non-reducible Felony conviction and registration as a narcotics offender pursuant to HS 11590

Several aggravating factors can add hefty enhancements to the sentences for those convicted.  Proximity to schools, crossing county or state lines, weight enhancements, and recent prison sentences, to name a few, can arm the prosecution with the means to ask for an increased sentence.  If you have been accused of transportation you are looking at lifelong consequences if convicted.  How your case gets handled will affect your freedom, your career, your finances, and your reputation.

San Diego Drug Transportation and Distribution Defense


Identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case is key to evaluating the strength of a defense against transportation of possession for sale charges.  A critical review of the following issues will allow you to mount the best defense:

  • How can the prosecution prove knowledge of the controlled substances? For example:
    • Did you tell them that you knew?
    • Where are the drugs found? Were they hidden in special compartments in the vehicle? If so, whose car is it? Was the vehicle recently out of your possession?
  • If drugs were brought across the border, how many previous crossings have there been?
    • What was the reason for sending you to secondary inspection?
  • Were you or a family member threatened if you didn’t comply with the demand that you transport the drugs?

Knowing what issues matter for a defense against charges of transportation or possession with the intent to sell controlled substances will make all the difference in your case, and possibly your life.  Invest in your protecting your future by contacting our team for a complimentary initial case evaluation.

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