Recently, a suspected drug dealer was arrested on Valencia Blvd. in Santa Clarita after deputies conducted a traffic stop. According to reports, a deputy was patrolling the area when he came upon a vehicle that was reported stolen. After stopping the vehicle and detaining the driver, the deputy performed a search during which he discovered methamphetamine as well as multiple items frequently used in the sale of narcotics.
The suspect was arrested and charged with taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent in addition to possession of a controlled substance for sale.
Driving or taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent is covered under California Vehicle Code 10851 VC. Often referred to as “joyriding,” the crime is similar to grand theft auto, but joyriding is generally charged when the suspect didn’t intend to keep the vehicle for an extended period of time.
10851 VC is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. When charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Felony charges are punishable by up to three years in California state prison.
Possession of a controlled substance for sale is covered under California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS and is described as simple as it sounds: possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell it.
11351 HS is known as a straight felony since it has no misdemeanor counterpart like taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. The punishments include probation and up to one year in county jail, or up to four years in county jail, a maximum fine of $20,000.
It’s important to note that if a prosecutor can prove that the defendant intended to engage in multiple sales, the above penalties can be applied for each separate sale, making the potential penalties much, much harsher.