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California Health And Safety Code 11351 - Possession For Sale Of A Controlled Substance


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerCalifornia Health and Safety Code § 11351 HS classifies possessing a controlled substance with the intent to sell as a felony. This applies to illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and LSD, as well as commonly prescribed medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and codeine. A “controlled substance” is a drug or chemical regulated by the U.S. government under the Controlled Substances Act. Common examples include opiates, cocaine, heroin, peyote, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”), and specific hallucinogens.

11351 HS: Except as otherwise provided in this division, every person who possesses for sale or purchases for purposes of sale (1) any controlled substance specified in subdivision (b), (c), or (e) of Section 11054, specified in paragraph (14), (15), or (20) of subdivision (d) of Section 11054, or specified in subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11055, or specified in subdivision (h) of Section 11056, or (2) any controlled substance classified in Schedule III, IV, or V which is a narcotic drug, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for two, three, or four years.



To prove that someone committed the crime of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to sell, a government prosecutor needs to establish these points:

  • The person had the controlled substance.
  • The person knew about the narcotics substance and its nature as a controlled substance.
  • The person intended to sell the substance when possessing it.
  • The substance was a usable amount.
  • The person exchanged the substance for money, services, or value.

The following drugs are considered controlled substances under California Health & Safety Code Section 11351 HSC:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Unauthorized Prescription medications
  • Opiates
  • Peyote
  • LSD
  • Other hallucinogens

To prove possession for sale, evidence like these may be used:

  • Large amounts of the substance found
  • Packaging materials and scales present
  • Significant cash amounts present
  • Signs of frequent drug transactions

It’s important to note that someone can be in violation if they had actual possession or control over the illicit substance, even if it’s not on their person. This is called constructive possession, like when drugs are found in a place they control, such as a closet or safe.

List of Controlled Substances in California


John is a college student who has been struggling financially. He’s heard that selling prescription medications can bring in some quick cash. One day, he acquires a significant quantity of prescription painkillers from a friend without a prescription. These painkillers are classified as controlled substances under the law.

John knows that these painkillers are valuable and that people might be interested in buying them. He plans to sell them to his classmates who might be looking for a way to manage stress during exams or relieve pain from sports injuries. He also purchases a small digital scale and some small plastic bags to divide the pills into smaller amounts for sale.

Unbeknownst to John, the police receive a tip about possible drug activity involving him. One day, while he’s at home, the police execute a search warrant on his residence. During the search, they find a large quantity of prescription painkillers neatly divided into smaller bags, a digital scale, and a wad of cash. This evidence suggests that John was planning to sell the prescription medications.

Based on the evidence, John is arrested and charged under California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 HSC for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. The presence of the controlled substances, the packaging materials, the scale, and the cash all contribute to the prosecution’s argument that John intended to sell the drugs for financial gain.


Several offenses are closely associated with Health and Safety Code 11351 HS. Some of these share similar behavior, some are commonly charged alongside 11351 HS, and others may be substituted for it in legal cases.



The primary distinction between Health and Safety Code 11352 HS and 11351 HS is that the former pertains to the act of drug transactions, while the latter concerns the possession of narcotics with the intent to sell them.

Law enforcement and prosecutors often utilize various factors to determine the intent to sell when presenting a case. Typically, the prosecution will introduce a narcotics officer as an “expert” witness to provide their opinion, based on these factors, that the drugs in question were intended for sale rather than personal use.

There are several factors that law enforcement and prosecutors consider when determining possession narcotics with intent to sell:

  • Quantity of the controlled substance: Possessing a larger amount than what would be typical for personal use may indicate an intent to sell.
  • Packaging of the drug: If the drugs are packaged in a way commonly associated with drug sales, such as separate baggies, balloons, bundles, or bindles, it suggests an intent to sell. Additionally, the presence of multiple baggies or packaging material can raise suspicions.
  • Presence/absence of drug paraphernalia: Possession of drug paraphernalia, which is a separate crime under Health and Safety Code 11364 HS, can either support or weaken the case for possession with intent to sell.
  • Influence of drugs: If a person is under the influence of drugs at the time of arrest, it may indicate personal use rather than intent to sell. However, it is important to note that some individuals who sell drugs may also use them, so this evidence alone is not conclusive.

It is crucial to understand that these factors are considered as part of the overall evidence in a possession with intent to sell case. Each case is unique, and the specific circumstances will determine the weight given to these factors.


California’s Health and Safety Code 11351 HS mention that if you are charged with the felony crimes of possessing a controlled substance with the intention to sell. The penalties include:

  • Probation and up to a year in county jail.
  • A two, three, or four-year term in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $20,000.

If the prosecution demonstrates intent for multiple sales, these penalties can apply to each intended sale.

Furthermore, a conviction might trigger deportation for legal immigrants or aliens.

A defendant may face extra years under the following conditions:

  • An extra three years for possession of more than one kilogram of the controlled substance.
  • An additional five years for possessing over two kilograms.
  • An extra ten years for having more than ten kilograms.
  • An additional 15 years for possessing more than 20 kilograms.
  • An extra 20 years for having over 40 kilograms.
  • An additional 25 years for possession of more than 80 kilograms.


California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 HSC deals with offenses related to the possession of controlled substances for sale. These charges can have significant immigration consequences for non-citizen individuals. Here’s a brief overview:

Non-citizens, including those with lawful permanent resident status (green card holders) and those with temporary visas, can potentially face serious immigration consequences if convicted under California HSC 11351. This offense is considered a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT), which can lead to immigration-related issues, including:

  • Deportation: A conviction for a CIMT, like possession of controlled substances for sale, can result in deportation or removal proceedings for non-citizens. Immigration authorities may use such convictions as grounds to initiate removal proceedings.
  • Inadmissibility: Convictions for CIMTs can also render non-citizens inadmissible to the United States. This means that if a non-citizen travels abroad and tries to re-enter the U.S., they might be denied entry due to their criminal conviction.
  • Cancellation of Visas or Green Cards: CIMT convictions can lead to the cancellation of visas or lawful permanent resident status (green cards), making non-citizens subject to deportation.
  • Limited Immigration Relief: Non-citizens with certain convictions, including CIMTs, may find it more difficult to qualify for various forms of immigration relief, such as asylum, cancellation of removal, or waivers.
  • Detention: Non-citizens convicted of CIMTs could be subject to mandatory detention during removal proceedings or while awaiting immigration court decisions.
  • Impact on Future Immigration Applications: CIMT convictions can have a negative impact on future applications for immigration benefits, such as naturalization (applying for U.S. citizenship) or adjustment of status (applying for a green card).

It’s important for non-citizens facing charges under California HSC 11351 to seek advice from both a criminal defense attorney and an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help assess the potential immigration consequences of any plea agreements or convictions and provide guidance on the best course of action to minimize these consequences. Understand the drug offender registry in California if you have been convicted of certain drug offenses.

See also  CALIFORNIA PCP LAWS: HS 11550, HS 11379.5, HS 11378.5, HS 11377


An experienced drug crimes attorney in California can present various legal defenses if you’re accused of possessing or buying drugs for sale. Here’s a brief overview of some common defenses. Keep in mind that these examples might not all relate to your unique case:

  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: A skilled lawyer can challenge the legality of the search or seizure conducted by law enforcement.
  • Absence of Intent to Sell: Your attorney can argue that there was no intention on your part to sell the drugs.
  • Lack of Possession: Your lawyer might establish that you didn’t have actual possession of the drugs in question.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Your attorney can assert that you were unaware of the presence of the drugs.

Remember, legal strategies vary based on individual circumstances, so consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your case.


Yes, it is possible to seek the expungement of a conviction for California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 (Possession for Sale of Controlled Substance) with the assistance of a professional lawyer like Cyrus Tabibnia.

However, it’s important to note that the eligibility for expungement and the specific process can vary based on individual circumstances and the laws in place at the time of the conviction. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer familiar with California’s expungement laws is crucial to determine your eligibility and guide you through the process.

If you were convicted under California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 and have completed your sentence, including probation, you may be eligible to petition the court for expungement. Tabibnia Law Firm can help you prepare the necessary documents, represent you in court if needed, and argue on your behalf for the expungement of your conviction.

Keep in mind that while an expungement can provide benefits such as improving your employment prospects and removing certain legal disabilities, it does not completely erase the conviction from your record. Instead, it shows that the conviction has been dismissed. It’s always recommended to consult with a Los Angeles expungement attorney to understand the specifics of your situation and explore your options for seeking expungement.


Facing a charge of possessing a controlled substance for sale is a grave felony with potentially severe prison terms. If you or a loved one are in this situation, it’s crucial to connect with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer promptly. Cyrus Tabibnia, a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney with over 18 years of experience, is skilled in effectively defending such cases. Cyrus is committed to providing top-notch representation for his clients, working diligently to secure the best possible outcome.

For more details about charges involving possessing a controlled substance for sale and to set up a free consultation, reach out to Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Cyrus at the Tabibnia Law Firm. Cyrus is serving clients throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles. Call us today at (866) 713-2159.

Tabibnia Law Firm is serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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