California False Compartment Law & Defense
California Health & Safety Code 11366.8(a) & 11366.8(b)
The law on the crime of keeping a false compartment to conceal controlled substances (usually simplified to false compartment) is found at California Health & Safety Code Section 11366.8(a). Building a false compartment for controlled substance is found at HS 11366.8(b).
In order for the district attorney to prove that a defendant kept or possessed a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance he or she will need to prove that the defendant either possessed, used, or built a secret compartment in his or her vehicle with the intent to either store, conceal, or transport a controlled substance (legal drugs or illegal narcotics).
A false compartment can be any hidden box, container, or enclosure, which is designed to hide controlled substances. The compartment itself does not have to be an addition to the vehicle such as the use of a modified gas tank that is designed to conceal drugs.
According to H&S 11366.8, a vehicle can be a car, truck, bus, aircraft, watercraft, golf cart, airplane, or motorcycle.
It is important to note that more than one person can be in possession of a false compartment at the same time and a defendant does not have to actually be touching the false compartment in order for him or her to have possession of the false compartment.
Sentence & Punishment for HS 11366.8(a)
The crime of keeping a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Both misdemeanor and felony false compartment charges are filed under H&S 11368.8(a).
Whether or not the district attorney charges misdemeanor or felony false compartment charges depends largely on the defendant's criminal history, the sophistication of the false compartment (or lack thereof), and the facts surrounding the discovery of the false compartment by law enforcement.
If the defendant is charged with keeping a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance as a felony, he or she may face up to three years in prison. If the defendant is charged with keeping a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance as a misdemeanor, he or she could face up to a year in the county jail.
HS 11366.8(a) is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law; however, HS 11366.8(a) is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means that if the defendant is convicted of possession of a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance he or she will suffer negative immigration and professional licensing consequence.
In addition to any possible jail or prison sentence, if the defendant is found guilty of the crime of possession of a false compartment to conceal controlled substances he or she may face other penalties, including: forfeiture of the vehicle, penalty fines, harsh probation or parole terms, loss of civil rights to own firearms, and more.
In some HS 11366.8(a) cases the defendant may have his case dismissed or the charges reduced. In other cases, the defendant may have any jail sentence associated with the crime reduced or suspended. Probation without prison or jail might also be possible. Every H&S 11368.8(a) case has different facts that support the charge; therefore, every H&S 11368.8(a) case is different and the outcomes will vary.
Common defenses to H&S 11368.8(a)
Common defenses to possession of a false compartment to conceal or keep controlled substances include: police misconuct, coerced confession, suppression of evidence, lack of intent (the defendant did not know there was a false compartment in his or her vehicle), insufficient evidence to prove the false compartment was used for drugs (as opposed to something other than drugs), mistake of fact, statute of limitations, and more.
If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of, building, or keeping, a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance under H&S 11366.8(a) contact our drug crimes criminal defense attorneys today. Our attorneys have successfully defended against hundreds of misdemeanor and felony drug charges. Consultations are provided at no cost to the accused. Call today!
Crimes related to H&S 11366.8(a) include
- Builindg a false compartment to store a controlled substance H&S 11366.8(b)
- Generate, use, alter, or forged a prescription HS 11368
- Allow fortification to suppress law enforcement HS 11366.5(b)
- Use fortified place to sell controlled subsstance HS 11366.6
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