Criminal Defense Lawyers
Transport a Controlled Substance
Information related to the crime of transportation of illegal drugs can be found at California Health and Safety Code section 11352(a) and CalCrim 2300. The following article is intended to serve as a summary of the law, the penalties, and the defenses related to the crime of transportation of illegal drugs. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice or as an alternative speaking with a criminal defense attorney concerning possible criminal charges. We strive to keep this information current and accurate, but the law changes over time; therefore, we cannot guarantee the following information is accurate at the time it is reviewed by the reader. For the most current information on HS 11352(a), contact a criminal defense lawyer without delay.
HS 11352(a) Laws
HS 11352(a): every person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away, or attempts to import into this state or transport … a controlled substance … is guilty of transportation of illegal drugs (HS 11352(a) Abbrev.).
HS 11352(c): Transport means transportation for sale (HS 11352(c) Abbrev.).
HS 11352(d): it is illegal for a person to aid or abet another person with transporting illegal drugs across state lines (HS 11352(d) Abbrev.).
Note: The controlled substances that are covered under HS 11352(a) include, but are not limited to, the following common drugs: Peyote, Cocaine, Heroin, Morphine, Codeine, Norco, Ketamine, LSD, Oxycontin (Oxy), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), and more. HS 11352(a) does not apply to the transportation for sale of marijuana.
Furthermore, the defendant does not need to be in actual possession of the illegal drugs in order to be charged with a violation of HS 11352(a) or 11352(b). The defendant is in violation of HS 11352(a) when he causes the drugs to be transported either by engaging another person to do the actual delivery of the controlled substances, or by delivering the drugs personally.
HS 11352(a) Penalties
Incarceration: HS 11352 is charged as a felony. If found guilty of HS 11352(a), the defendant could face up to five years in jail. The triad sentencing range for HS 11352(a) is a 3, 4, or 5 year jail sentence depending on the presence of any mitigating or aggravating sentencing factors. For example, the court may sentence the defendant to the low-term jail sentence (3 years), the mid-term jail sentence (4 years), or the aggravated jail term (5 years), depending on the presence of any facts in the case that support the chosen jail sentence.
HS 11352(b): A closely related charge to HS 11352(a) is HS 11352(b). The only difference between the definition of these two crimes is that HS 11352(a) occurs when the interstate transportation of illegal drugs crosses only one state line; HS 11352(b) is violated when the transportation of illegal drugs crosses two or more state lines. The triad sentencing range for HS 11352(b) is up to nine years in jail (Triad Sentencing Range is 3, 6, 9 years).
Note: Penalty enhancements can greatly increase the amount of jail time that a defendant is facing in any HS 11352 case. A penalty enhancement is charge that is added to the underlying charge so as to increase the jail sentence that the defendant is facing, or to preclude the defendant from receiving a certain type of sentence, such as a probation sentence, a split sentence, etc. Common enhancement added to criminal charges of transporting illegal drugs for sale include:
Three years jail sentence enhancement added to the underlying offense if the controlled substance weighs more than one kilogram;
Five years jail sentence enhancement added to the underlying offense if the controlled substance weighs more than four kilograms; and
Ten years jail sentence enhancement added to the underlying offense is the controlled substance weighs more than ten kilograms. For more information, see Penalty Enhancements.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision in lieu of an actual jail sentence. Probation sentences are allowed in both HS 11352(a) and 11352(b) cases, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed. Whether or not a probation sentence is granted in any transportation of illegal drugs case depends largely on the sophistication level of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history (if any), the amount of controlled substances sold (or attempted to be sold), and the terms of a negotiated plea agreement between the defendant and the district attorney or the court (if any). A probation sentence in any HS 11352 case is considered formal probation, which means that the defendant’s probation will be supervised by a probation officer. During probation, the probationer (defendant) must comply with certain conditions. Failure to comply with the conditions of probation can lead to a violation of probation and possible jail.
Note: Sometimes, a probation sentence will include a jail sentence as a term of probation. However, when a jail sentence is ordered as a term of probation in any HS 11352 case, that jail term may usually be served alternatively on work release or house arrest.
PC 1170 Sentencing: Both HS 11352(a) and 11352(b) crimes are eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that if the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for transportation for sale of a controlled substance, then the defendant may still be able to serve his jail sentence partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release (split jail sentence), or he may be able to have his jail sentence served only if he violates a term of his out-of-custody release (suspended jail sentence). Additionally, per PC 1170(h), any jail sentence ordered after a conviction for transportation for sale of a controlled substance may be served in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison. For more information, see PC 1170(h).
Note: Both 11352(a) and 11352(b) are eligible for PC 1170(h) sentencing (i.e. split jail sentence, suspended sentence, and local county jail sentence); however, sometimes a penalty enhancement that is added to the HS 11352 charge will preclude the defendant from receiving the benefits of PC 1170(h) sentencing. This is because the penalty enhancement itself does not qualify for PC 1170(h) sentencing.
For example, if the defendant is charged with transporting heroine for sale across state lines (a violation of HS 11352(a)), then he should qualify for PC 1170(h) sentence; however, if the amount of heroin is over fifteen grams, then the defendant could be charged with a penalty enhancement that would preclude him from receiving the sentencing benefits of PC 1170(h). This is because the penalty enhancement for transporting over fifteen grams of heroin does not allow for PC 1170(h) sentencing. Other types of penalties enhancements that preclude PC 1170(h) sentencing in HS 11352 cases include: sale of controlled substances near a school, sale of a controlled substance by a registered drug offense, and more. For more information, see Enhancements to Criminal Charges.
Three Strikes Sentence: The transportation of a controlled substance across state lines is not considered a serious or violent felony as those terms are defined respectively at PC 1192.7 and PC 667.5. This means that HS 11352(a) and 11352(b) are not considered strike offenses under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law.
Drug Offender Registration: A conviction for transporting illegal drugs for sale (HS 11352 Crimes) requires the convicted person to register as a drug offender with local law enforcement agencies.
Additional Punishment: In addition to the penalties described above, if the defendant is convicted of transportation of a controlled substance across state line (either HS 11352(a) or 11352(b)), the defendant may suffer any of the additional punishments: loss of a professional license (doctor, dentist, lawyer, nurse, ophthalmologist, etc.), loss of the right to enter the military (Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Army), loss of immigration status (for non-US citizens), fines, court fees, restitution, civil lawsuits, asset forfeiture, loss of the right to own or possess firearms or ammunition, and more.
HS 11352(a) Defenses
Common defenses associated with the transportation for sale of a controlled substance include: illegal search and seizure, coerced confession, mistake of fact, entrapment, insufficient evidence required to prove the defendant knew what he was transporting, false allegations, duress, statute of limitations, and more. For more information on defenses to HS 11352 crimes, see Defenses to Crime.
Note: It is not a violation of HS 11352(a) or 11352(b) to transport illegal drugs across state lines for personal use. Whether or not the defendant crossed state lines with illegal drugs for sale or for personal use is usually determined by the circumstantial evidence produced in the case. For example, if the defendant is caught with three thousand Norco pills at the border between Nevada and California, then probably the defendant will be charged with HS 11352(a) as three thousand Norco pills is likely an amount that the defendant could not personally consume. On the other hand, if the defendant has five Norco pills on his person when he crosses the same Nevada-California border, and the defendant is with four passengers in his vehicle at the time he caught, then there is a greater chance that the Norco pills were transported for personal use; therefore, the defendant is not likely to be charged with HS 11352(a) under the second scenario.
To learn more about the law, the penalties, and the defenses associated with transportation of illegal drugs across state lines, contact our criminal defense lawyers today. Our team of criminal defense lawyers can assist you every day of the week. We offer free consultations and we can even provide consultations for defendants in jail if necessary. Call today!
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: Transportation of Controlled Substance
Code: HS 11352(a) (CalCrim No. 2300)
Wobbler: Yes. HS 11352(a) is a wobbler. This means that HS 11352(a) may be charged either as a misdemeanor, or as a felony.
Incarceration: Misdemeanor HS 11352(a) carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail; felony HS 11352(a) carries a maximum of 5 years in county jail (Triad is 3, 4, or 5 years).
Probation: Yes. Probation is allowed in HS 11352(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. HS 11352(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, might be served in a local county jail (as opposed to a state prison), and that jail sentence may be split (served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release), or suspended (not served so long as the defendant complies with out-of-jail sentencing conditions).
Strike: No. HS 11352(a) is not a strike offense per California's Three Strikes law because this crime is not considered a Serious offense (PC 1192.7), or a Violent offense (667.5(c).
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available. Benefits of Prop 57 sentencing apply to HS 11352(a) crimes.
CIMT: Yes. HS 11352(a) is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:
Immigration problems (for non-US citizens)
Professional Licensing problems
Impeachment on credibility
Firearms: HS 11352(a) convictions prohibit defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Registration: Yes. A conviction for HS 11352(a) comes with a requirements that the defendant register with local law enforcement agencies as a drug offender.
Bail: $50,000 plus any enhancement penalty bail amount added (San Bernardino County)
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