California Health and Safety Code Section 11370.1 HSC: Possessing Controlled Substances And A Loaded Firearm

loaded firearm possession1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

While possessing a controlled substance is a serious criminal offense by itself, defendants who are caught possessing both drugs and a loaded gun face heightened criminal penalties under the law. Under California Health & Safety Code Section 11370.1 HSC, possessing controlled substances and a loaded firearm is a felony offense that carries significant prison sentences.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of possessing controlled substances and a loaded firearm, a prosecutor would have to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant exercised control over a controlled substance.
  2. The defendant knew of its presence.
  3. The defendant knew it was a controlled substance.
  4. The substance was in a usable quantity.
  5. AND the defendant did so while armed with a loaded, operable firearm.

Pursuant to this statute, “armed with” means having the loaded firearm available for immediate offensive or defense use.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Possessing a Controlled Substance – California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC
  2. Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance - California Health & Safety Code Section 11351 HSC
  3. Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance - California Health & Safety Code Section 11352 HSC
  4. Armed with a Firearm – California Penal Code Section 12022 PC
  5. Carrying a Loaded Firearm – California Penal Code Section 25850 PC
  6. Carrying a Concealed Firearm – California Penal Code Section 25400 PC
3. Examples

A man is stopped during a routine traffic stop. The man consents to a search of his vehicle and the officers discover a loaded firearm in the vehicle’s glove compartment. The man is taken outside the vehicle and officers further find a packet of cocaine in his pocket. This man could be charged with possessing a controlled substance and a loaded firearm in violation of California Health & Safety Code Section 11370.1 HSC.

In another example, a man is hanging out with his friend. The man is a licensed gun owner and keeps a loaded firearm on his person at all times. The man is cold and borrows his friend’s jacket. Later in the night, the man is briefly detained by the police because he matched the description of someone who had just committed a burglary. During a lawful search, the police find the loaded firearm, which the man had previously alerted them about. However, the police also find a balloon containing heroin in the jacket pocket. This man would not be criminally liable under California Health & Safety Code Section 11370.1 HSC because he did not knowingly possess the drugs, which is required under the statute. The man could still be charged with carrying a concealed firearm in violation of California Penal Code Section 25400 PC and carrying a loaded firearm in violation of California Penal Code Section 25850 PC.

4. Defenses to Possessing Controlled Substances and a Loaded Firearm

As discussed above, if the defendant did not knowingly possess the controlled substance, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. In addition, if the defendant was not “armed with” a firearm as defined by the statute, there would be no criminal liability under the law.

5. Penalties

Possessing controlled substances and a loaded firearm is a felony level offense that is punishable by up to four years in prison. Those convicted under this statute would not be eligible for diversion or a deferred entry of judgment.

6. Criminal Defense for Possessing Controlled Substances and a Loaded Firearm Cases

Possessing both controlled substances and a loaded firearm is a serious criminal offense that carries lengthy prison sentences. If you have been charged with this offense, it is very important that you meet with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is highly skilled at challenging cases like this and making sure his clients’ rights are absolutely protected. Mr. Kraut understands the serious consequences that a conviction for this offense carries and fights hard on behalf of his clients facing charges for offenses like this.

For more information about possessing controlled substances and a loaded firearm, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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