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California PCP Laws: 11550 HS, 11379.5 HS, 11378.5 HS, 11377 HS

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

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerCalifornia takes drug offenses seriously, and PCP (phencyclidine) is no exception. In California, possessing PCP (phencyclidine), a powerful hallucinogenic drug, is typically considered a misdemeanor charge, which may be dismissed – under certain circumstances – if one successfully completes a drug diversion program. However, the act of selling or transporting (also referred to as “trafficking”) PCP is always a felony offense that carries severe legal consequences, including several years of imprisonment. Understanding the laws surrounding PCP in California is essential to avoid serious legal consequences.

In this blog post, we will explore the various aspects of California PCP laws, including possession, sale, transportation, being under the influence, driving under the influence, and how to fight criminal charges.

Possessing PCP (HS 11377) California

Definition: In California, the possession of PCP for personal use, commonly referred to as “simple possession,” is prohibited under Health and Safety Code 11377. This offense involves knowingly possessing PCP without a valid prescription.

Elements: To secure a conviction for PCP possession, the prosecutor must establish one of the following:

  • Actual possession” whereby the defendant knowingly carries PCP on their person.
  • Constructive possession” whereby the defendant keeps PCP in their car, home, or storage unit.
  • Joint possession” whereby the defendant shares PCP with another person, such as a friend or roommate.

Penalties: In most cases, possessing PCP is considered a misdemeanor offense, which carries penalties of up to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. However, individuals facing simple possession charges can often avoid jail time and have the charges dismissed by successfully completing a drug diversion program such as Proposition 36, Penal Code 1000 PC, or California drug court.

Possession of PCP With Intent To Sell (11378.5 HS)

Definition: Possessing PCP with the intent to sell or distribute it is a serious offense under California Health and Safety Code 11378.5 HS. This crime is a felony and carries harsher penalties compared to simple possession.

Elements: To prove intent to sell, the District Attorney may rely on various evidence, including:

  • Large quantities of drugs found at your residence, suggesting that the drugs were not solely for personal use.
  • PCP stored in measured bags or containers, indicating that they are prepared for sale.
  • Carrying a firearm, which may be argued as necessary for self-defense in the drug trade.
  • Discovery of significant amounts of cash on your person or at your residence, presumed to be proceeds from drug deals.
  • Eye witness accounts of you in locations known for drug transactions.

Penalties: Possession of PCP for sale is a felony offense in California, punishable by three, four, or five years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the weight of the PCP exceeds one kilogram (or 30 liters by liquid volume), an additional three to 15 years may be added to the sentence. Additionally, if you possessed PCP for the purpose of sale within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment center, detox facility, or homeless shelter, an extra year in prison will be added to the sentence.


Under Health & Safety Code 11383 HS, possessing materials used for manufacturing PCP with the intention to produce the drug is also a felony offense, which carries a jail sentence of two, four, or six years.

Transporting or Selling PCP (11379.5 HS)

Definition: PCP trafficking is a severe offense under California Health and Safety Code 11379.5 HS. This crime involves knowingly transporting, selling, furnishing, administering, importing, giving away, or offering to do any of these actions with PCP.

Elements: To secure a conviction for trafficking PCP, the District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in one or more of these activities: transporting, selling, furnishing, administering, importing, giving away, or offering to do any of these actions with PCP.

Penalties: Like possessing PCP for sale, this offense is a felony and can result in significant penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. The offense of trafficking PCP is punishable by three, four, or five years in California State Prison. However, if the PCP was transported across more than two county lines with the intent to sell at the destination, the court can impose a sentence of three, six, or nine years in prison.

In cases where you were aware or should have been aware that the recipient of the PCP was pregnant, had a prior violent felony conviction, or was undergoing treatment for a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem, judges are more likely to impose longer sentences.

If the amount of PCP involved in the offense exceeds one kilogram or 30 liters, an additional three to 15 years in prison may be added to the sentence. Non-citizens convicted of trafficking drugs are likely to face deportation after serving their sentence.

Being Under the Influence of PCP (11550 HS)

Definition: Being under the influence of PCP is a crime under California Health and Safety Code 11550 HS. This offense occurs when an individual uses a controlled substance like PCP and becomes intoxicated in public.

Elements: In order to secure a conviction for being under the influence of PCP, the District Attorney must prove the following elements:

  • The prosecution must show that your physical or mental abilities are impaired in any detectable manner. This means that your ability to function normally is affected by the influence of PCP.
  • The prosecution must establish that drugs, specifically PCP, are the cause of the impairment. It is not enough to show that you were simply under the influence of any drug; the specific influence of PCP must be demonstrated.

Penalties: While being under the influence of PCP may be considered a misdemeanor in California. If convicted, it can carry a sentence of up to one year in jail. However, there may be options available to avoid incarceration and a conviction, such as participating in a diversion program.

Driving Under the Influence of PCP [VC 23152 (f)]

Definition: Driving under the influence of PCP is a serious offense under California Vehicle Code 23152 (f). Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious offense that poses significant risks to the driver, passengers, and innocent pedestrians.

Elements: To secure a conviction for driving under the influence of PCP, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

  • The first element is quite straightforward – it involves operating a motor vehicle on a public road or highway.
  • The prosecution must demonstrate that the driver was under the influence of PCP at the time of operating the vehicle. This means that the drug’s influence affected the driver’s mental and physical abilities to an extent that they were impaired.
  • The impairment caused by PCP can manifest in various ways, including slowed reaction time, reduced coordination, altered perception, impaired judgment, and distorted sensory perceptions.

It’s important to note that for a conviction, the prosecution does not have to prove a specific level of PCP in the driver’s system. Instead, they focus on demonstrating that the driver was impaired due to PCP consumption.

Penalties: In the majority of cases, charges for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) are treated as misdemeanors and carry similar penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) offenses. For a first-time conviction, a judge can impose a sentence of up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, a driver’s license suspension, and mandatory attendance at a DUI school.

How to Fight Criminal Charges

When facing PCP-related criminal charges, it’s crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help build a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case. There are six effective defenses that have worked well with judges, juries, and prosecutors in California:

  • Lack of knowledge about the drugs: If it can be proven that you were not aware of the drugs’ presence and they were planted or left without your knowledge, the case against you should be dropped.
  • Illegal search and seizure: If the drugs were found as a result of a search that violated your Fourth Amendment rights, we can argue that the evidence should be disregarded. If successful, the case against you may no longer have enough evidence to proceed.
  • Entrapment by law enforcement: If you can demonstrate that you were coerced into buying or selling drugs by an undercover police officer when you had no predisposition to do so, we can argue that you were unlawfully entrapped. This could lead to the dismissal of your case based on police misconduct.
  • Lack of impairment: The strongest defense against charges of driving under the influence of drugs or being under the influence of PCP is to demonstrate that you were not actually impaired by the substance. One approach is to argue that you were experiencing a medical episode, such as a diabetic coma, which mimicked the effects of being high on drugs and led to a false arrest.
  • Lack of intent to sell: In cases where you are charged with possession for sale, we can try to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to simple possession by showing insufficient evidence of intent to sell. For example, if the prosecutor claims you had a large quantity of PCP, we can argue that you intended to use it for personal use at a later date.
  • False accusations: It is possible that the person accusing you has ulterior motives, such as anger, revenge, or a misunderstanding. By gathering evidence such as texts, voicemails, or other proof of their motivation to lie, we can challenge their credibility as a witness.

In these cases, helpful evidence includes video surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts, medical records, and expert witnesses if necessary.

Immigration consequences 

The immigration consequences of a conviction under HS 11550, HS 11377, HS 11378.5, HS 11379.5  can vary depending on various factors, such as the individual’s immigration status, the severity of the offense, and the overall immigration history.

As such, it is always important to consult with an immigration attorney to fully understand the potential impact on immigration status or future immigration applications. They can provide personalized advice based on the specific circumstances of the case. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

Looking For Help? Call Tabibnia Law Firm

If you are facing PCP-related charges, take them seriously, and seek professional legal guidance promptly. A skilled attorney will help protect your rights, explore defense options, and strive for the best possible outcome given your circumstances.

At Tabibnia Law Firm, our priority is to secure the most favorable outcome for each unique case. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and find out how our expertise can support you in dealing with charges related to California PCP Laws, including possession, sale, or use. Call (866) -713-2159.

Remember, this blog post provides a general overview of California PCP laws but should not be considered legal advice. Laws can change, and individual circumstances can vary, so it’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney to understand the specific implications of your case.


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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