Health and Safety Code 11370.6 HSC - Possession of Over $100,000 Related to Drug Sales
California Health & Safety Code 11370.6 HSC makes it a crime to have possession of over $100,000 acquired from the proceeds of drug sales or possess the same amount to purchase drugs.
The sales and distribution of many controlled substances have tremendously impacted California residents for decades.
The vast majority of arrests made by police involve only street-level drug dealers who are getting their illegal narcotics from the people who operate large-scale drug trafficking operations, such as the Mexican drug cartels.
The individuals who run the cartels and the source of the drug trade are much harder to locate and prosecute. Thus, to prosecute those who run these illegal drug operations, the California legislature has passed laws criminalizing the possession of drug sale proceeds.
Put simply; HSC 11370.6 is the statute used by prosecutors to file charges against people who:
- have over $100,000 related to drug sales, or
- anyone to have over $100,000 to buy illegal drugs.
Readers should note that this statute can only be used to prosecute people possessing more than $100,000, which is usually cash.
Further, the prosecutor will have to prove that the money was directly obtained from manufacturing or selling drugs and that the person knew the money came from selling controlled substances. Let's review this state law further below.
What Does the Law Say?
Health and Safety Code 11370.6 HSC says, “Anybody who has possession of money or negotiable instruments exceeding $100,000 obtained from the unlawful sale, possession with intent to sell, transportation, manufacture, offering for sale, any controlled substance, knowing the moneys were so obtained, and anyone who has possessed same moneys intended for unlawful purchase of any controlled substance.”
Put simply, even though there are several types of behavior described under this definition of HSC 11370.6, the primary purpose of this statute is to make it a separate crime to charge people with large amounts of cash directly related to the illegal drug trade.
In most cases, police cannot arrest a drug dealer or seller with large qualities of drugs in their possession. However, HSC 11370.6 allows law enforcement to arrest dealers and seize money that was used to buy or sell drugs.
Notably, the definition under Health and Safety Code 11370.6 provides that any person who possesses money or “negotiable instruments,” such as currency, stocks, bonds, or commercial paper, exceeding $100,000 obtained from the unlawful sale, possession for sale, manufacture, transportation, of any illegal drug is guilty of a crime.
What Are the Related Crimes?
There are related California drug crimes for HS 11370.6, including the following:
- Health and Safety Code 11350 HS – possession of a controlled substance,
- Health and Safety Code 11351 HS – possession of drugs for sale,
- Health and Safety Code 11352 HS – sale or transportation of drugs.
What Must the Proven?
The government has the burden to prove you knew the money in question was directly associated with the drug trade. On the other side is the prosecution for possessing over $100,000 intended to purchase illegal narcotics.
HSC 11370.6 targets both sides of the transaction when a large amount of money is involved. So, for example, it's a crime to possess drug sales proceeds, and they include the cash to buy drugs, but they have to prove they knew this.
These crucial factors are not always easy to prove and are a frequent target of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Thus, to be convicted of violating California Health and Safety Code 11370.6, the prosecutor must prove several different factors.
These factors are called the “elements of the crime” and are listed under CALCRIM 2430 (possession) and CALCRIM 2431 (money to purchase) California criminal jury instructions as follows:
- defendant possessed an amount of money exceeding $100,000,
- acquired from the sale, possession, transportation, or manufacturing of a controlled substance,
- defendant knew the money was acquired from these sources,
- defendant intended to use the money to purchase a controlled substance.
What are the Penalties for HSC 11370.6?
Health and Safety Code Section 11370.6 HS is a “wobbler, “ meaning the prosecutor can file the charges as either a felony or a misdemeanor-level criminal offense.
How the District Attorney's office files the case depends on the case's circumstances and the defendant's criminal record. A prefiling intervention by our law firm may effectively influence this filing decision.
A misdemeanor Section 11370.6 violation is punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If filed as a felony case, then the same violation is punishable by two, three, or four years in the California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
What are the Defenses for HSC 11370.6?
To determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant charged with violating HS 11370.6, our California criminal defense lawyers can use different strategies to challenge the case.
First, we might be able to show that the defendant had legitimate employment in an attempt to explain why they had over $100,000 in cash.
Next, we might be able to challenge the allegations that the source of the money was related to drug sales. Finally, perhaps it came from other legal authorities, and the prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove guilt. In other words, there are often innocent explanations for why someone has large amounts of cash.
Finally, as noted above, we might be able to argue that you did not know that the money you were carrying was related to illegal drug sales.
Prosecutors will often attempt to use ledgers as evidence of drug transactions or the testimony of witnesses or undercovers police officers to support the drug charges.
If you are under investigation or already accused of possessing drug proceeds over $100,000 that violate HSC 11370.6, contact us to look at the case and options.
It might be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce charges or even get the case dropped. Also, it might be possible to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges before the court through our prefiling intervention process.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm with two office locations in Los Angeles County. We are available for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570.