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Health And Safety Code 11366 HS – Operating Or Maintaining A Drug House


Operating a drug house, also known as opening or maintaining a drug house, is a criminal offense. A drug house is a place used for unlawfully selling, giving away or using controlled substances. This offense is frequently referred to as operating a drug house in Los Angeles County or anywhere in California.

As per California Health And Safety Code 11366 HS, the crime of opening or maintaining a drug house is legally defined as follows:

“Any individual who opens or maintains a place with the intention of engaging in the unlawful sale, distribution, or use of specified controlled substances as outlined in the statute, or any narcotic drug classified in Schedule III, IV, or V, may face imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year or in the state prison.”

Under this statute, the term “place” typically refers to a house or apartment, or any other structures. For instance, a hotel room or motel room can also be considered a “place” under this law.

Every person who opens or maintains any place for the purpose of unlawfully selling, giving away, or using any controlled substance, which is a narcotic drug classified in Schedule III, IV, or V, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than one year or the state prison.

In Health And Safety Code 11366 HS drug crime cases, it is common for the charge to be coupled with other related criminal offenses, such as possession with intent to sell controlled substances and transportation of a controlled substance. This is because these charges often go hand in hand, as individuals who possess large quantities of drugs with the intent to sell them may also transport them to different locations for distribution purposes. These additional charges can result in more severe penalties and consequences for the accused.

Individuals are only considered guilty if they opened or maintained a drug house with the intention of facilitating the use of illegal drugs by others. A person who maintains a place for their own drug activity is not guilty of this offense. Additionally, individuals are only deemed guilty of opening or maintaining a drug house if they engage in the continuous or repeated sale or distribution of controlled substances. If a sale or provision of drugs is an isolated incident, it does not constitute a violation of this code section.

Elements of Crime Under HSC 11366

To obtain a conviction, a prosecutor must prove two primary elements of the crime:

  • That you opened or maintained a place, and
  • That your intent was to sell, use, give away, or allow others to use a controlled substance on a continuous basis at that place.

According to the information provided, it is a misconception that operating a drug house charges, as outlined in Health and Safety Code 11366, only apply to illegal activities taking place in residential homes. In reality, it is quite common for defendants to be charged under this statute even when the unlawful conduct occurs in settings such as hotel rooms. The term “place,” as used in the code, covers a broad range of locations. However, it is important to note that a single occurrence of the illicit activity is unlikely to result in charges for violating HSC 11366.

California Health And Safety Code Section 11366.5 HS

Health and Safety Code 11366.5 HS is a closely related offense that prohibits the rental or leasing of spaces for the unlawful manufacturing, storing, or distribution of controlled substances. It is irrelevant whether compensation was received for these activities. This law applies to individuals who control the space, such as owners, employees, lessees, or agents.

Additionally, HSC 11366.5(b) covers situations where a building or room is fortified to hinder law enforcement entry for the purpose of selling cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, as well as individuals who profit excessively from the use of the location. Convictions under this subsection can face a maximum sentence of 4 years in a California state prison. For more information, please reach out to a criminal defense lawyer at Tabibnia law firm.


The police receive several complaints about a residence where loud arguments and disturbances occur regularly. They decide to monitor the property to gather evidence. During their surveillance, the police observe individuals coming and going from the house, often in a state of apparent intoxication. Additionally, they witness confrontations between the residents and their visitors, leading them to suspect that the house is being used as a hub for illegal gambling activities. A search warrant is obtained, and upon searching the house, the police do not find drugs. However, the owner could still be charged with operating an illegal gambling operation in violation of the law.

Penalties, Punishment, And Sentencing

A violation of Health and Safety Code 11366.5 HS is considered a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • If charged under misdemeanor crimes, the punishment can include imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.
  • If charged under felony crimes, the punishment can include confinement in jail or California state prison for up to three years and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.

In addition to these penalties, it is important to note that under California’s asset forfeiture laws, the real property where a drug house is alleged to have been maintained can also be confiscated in many cases.

How To Fight Charges For Operating or Maintaining a Drug House?

When facing criminal charges under Health and Safety Code 11366 HS, it is possible to challenge the charges with a strong legal defense. An effective defense strategy for this offense can be:

  • Personal Use: This defense strategy asserts that the drugs in question were intended for the defendant’s personal use rather than for sale or distribution. By providing evidence or testimony showing a lack of intent to distribute or sell the drugs, the defendant aims to challenge the charges of unlawfully renting or leasing a location for manufacturing, storing, or distributing controlled substances.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: This defense strategy argues that the police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful search and seizure. If the search or seizure was conducted without a valid warrant, consent, or probable cause, any evidence obtained during the search may be suppressed or excluded from the case. Challenging the legality of the search and seizure can weaken the prosecution’s case by limiting the admissible evidence.
  • No Continuous or Repeated Conduct: This defense strategy contests the claim that there was continuous and repeated conduct of maintaining a location for illegal drug activities. If it can be shown that the alleged activities were isolated incidents or not part of an ongoing pattern, the defendant may argue against being charged under Health and Safety Code 11366, which requires evidence of continual use of the space for illegal drug-related purposes.

The application of these defense strategies can vary depending on the specific legal jurisdiction and circumstances of the case. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified attorney for accurate legal advice tailored to your situation.


Immigration Consequences

When it comes to immigration consequences, non-citizens facing criminal charges in the United States must be particularly cautious, as certain convictions can lead to deportation, denial of naturalization, or inadmissibility to the U.S. Generally, under U.S. immigration law, particularly the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), convictions for drug-related offenses can have severe immigration consequences. A conviction under Health & Safety Code § 11366 HS could be considered a deportable offense or make one inadmissible, especially if the offense is classified as a drug trafficking crime, which includes the operation or maintenance of a drug house.

The specific immigration consequences would depend on various factors, including the non-citizen’s current immigration status, whether the conviction is for a controlled substance listed in the federal drug laws (schedules of controlled substances), and the presence of any aggravating factors that could elevate the severity of the offense. For example, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may face deportation proceedings, while those seeking admission to the U.S. could be deemed inadmissible.

If you or someone you know is charged with this crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

Related Crimes

Speak With Criminal Defense Lawyer From Tabibnia Law Firm

Operating a drug house is a serious offense with potentially severe penalties for those found guilty. It is essential to seek immediate legal advice if you are charged with this crime. At the Tabibnia Law Firm, our experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer, Cyrus Tabibnia, has a proven track record of success defending individuals facing various drug offenses, including cases specifically involving operating a drug house as defined under California Health & Safety Code 11366.

To protect your rights, don’t talk to the police without legal representation. Instead, please contact our office at 866-713-2159 and allow our attorney to review your case. Time is of the essence, so don’t delay in seeking the help you need.

Legal References:

CALCRIM No. 2440 | California Code, Health and Safety Code – HSC § 11366 | California Code, Health and Safety Code – HSC § 11366.8 |

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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