BART Passenger Arrested for Possession of Cocaine (CA Health and Safety Code 11351)

A 27-year-old Antioch man was passed out on a BART train recently.  When the conductor tried to wake him, and was unsuccessful, he called the BART police.  Upon arrival, law enforcement officials claim that the gentleman had approximately 12 baggies of cocaine and nearly $300 in cash on his person.  When questioned, he offered an unusual explanation:  the cocaine was for personal use, he sprinkles it on his marijuana before smoking it.  His future attorneys will likely offer a more appropriate defense in court.

California law is clear when it comes to the possession of narcotics like cocaine.  A person arrested for possession, sales, or trafficking of this Schedule II drug can expect severe penalties.  According to California Health and Safety Code 11351 (“possession or purchase of cocaine for sale”) is likely the crime that the BART gentleman will be prosecuted for.  Simply possessing cocaine may mean a felony, punishable by up to 3 years in state prison and a $20,000 fine.  However, possessing this same drug for the purposes of selling it (as the 12 baggies seem to suggest) comes with harsher consequences.

For example, if an individual is convicted of possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, then the punishment largely depends on the amount of cocaine you are caught with.  If you are caught with under 1 kilogram, then the penalty is up to 5 years in state prison and a $20,000 fine.  However, if you are caught with over 1 kilogram, you can expect to spend an additional 3 to 25 years in state prison and the possibility of a total of $8,000,000 in fines!  If the BART rider is successful in proving that the cocaine was for his personal use (CA HS Code 11350), then he may fare better as far as sentencing goes.