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The penalties for drug distribution in California

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2021 | Drug Crimes

The criminal penalties for drug distribution in California can be severe. You may want to learn about the typical penalties that defendants can expect to face.

What is considered “drug distribution” in California and what are the minimum penalties?

State laws pertaining to drug crimes define drug distribution as “the sale, transport, transfer and import of controlled substances.” This definition does not include marijuana possession of up to 28 grams, which is legal for recreational use in the state.

In the absence of aggravating circumstances that may increase penalties, the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act provides for a sentence of three to five years in prison for drug distribution. California defendants accused of drug crimes shouldn’t automatically accept any plea deal offered by the government before carefully considering all their legal options.

Enhanced penalties for distributing to minors

Selling drugs to minors, who are children under 18, is a more serious offense under state law than selling to adults. A defendant may incur additional penalties for selling drugs in close proximity to a school, even if he or she didn’t directly sell to children.

A defendant convicted of selling to minors can receive up to nine years in prison. Also, using minors to facilitate the sale of drugs in California may result in increased penalties.

Other enhanced penalties

Defendants convicted of transporting drugs for sale across non-contiguous county lines, meaning across counties that do not border each other, may receive an additional three to nine years on their sentence. In addition, as with many crimes, California law allows for harsher sentences for convicted defendants with prior criminal records.

The penalties for drug distribution in California depend on a variety of factors including whether children were involved, whether the illegal distribution crossed county lines and the criminal history of the defendant. Defendants who want to avoid fines and years of jail time may want to fight the charges or try negotiating a plea deal for a reduced sentence.