Health and Safety Code 109575 HS – Manufacture and Distribution of Imitation Controlled Substances in California


Health and Safety Code 109575
is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to knowingly:

  • manufacture,
  • distribute, or
  • possess with the intent to distribute

an imitation controlled substance.

HSC 109575 is one of two California statutes regarding these substances.

According to this statute:

“Any person who knowingly manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, an imitation controlled substance is guilty of a misdemeanor…”

Examples of criminal acts under this code section include:

  • Carlos uses items in his pantry to make a substance that looks like cocaine.
  • Juanita sells a neighborhood kid a packet of imitation “crank.”
  • Rob carries packs of imitation dope in his backpack while he walks to a local park to sell them.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under HSC 109575. These include showing that:

Penalties

The manufacturing and distribution of an imitation controlled substance is charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to an infraction or a felony). The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

imitation drugs in a girl's pocket

1. What is prohibited under Health and Safety Code 109575 HS?

Health and Safety Code 109575 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to knowingly:

  • manufacture,
  • distribute, or
  • possess with the intent to distribute

an imitation controlled substance.1

Note that a California court has ruled that this statute does not violate the United States Constitution for being vague.2

An “imitation controlled substance” is basically a counterfeit drug. It is intended to be visually mistaken for the real thing.

HSC 109550 sets forth the legal definition of an imitation controlled substance. According to this statute, this substance is one of two things.

First, it can be:

  • a product specifically manufactured to resemble the physical appearance of a controlled substance, and
  • a product that a reasonable person would not be able to distinguish from a real controlled substance by outward appearances.3

Or, according to the code section, an imitation controlled substance can be:

  • a product that is made to look like a real controlled substance, and
  • a product that a reasonable person would believe that, if taken, it would have a stimulant or depressant effect like a real drug.4

2. Are there legal defenses to accusations of violating Health and Safety Code 109575?

A person accused of violating this statute can raise a legal defense. A good defense can work to reduce or even dismiss a charge.

Three common defenses to alleged violations of this statute are:

  1. no imitation controlled substance,
  2. unlawful search and seizure, and/or
  3. falsely accused.

2.1. No imitation controlled substance

Please note that HSC 11357.5 only applies to imitation controlled substances – as defined in HSC 109550. Thus, a solid legal defense is for a party to show that, while he may have made or distributed a substance, it was not an imitation controlled substance.

2.2. Unlawful search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that we have the right to be free from unreasonable “searches and seizures” by law enforcement. If authorities obtain evidence from an unreasonable, or unlawful search and seizure, then that evidence can get excluded from a criminal case. This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

2.3. Falsely accused

Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon for people to get prosecuted based on false allegations. People get falsely accused out of

  • jealousy,
  • revenge, and
  • anger.

Thus, it is a valid defense for a defendant to say that a party falsely accused him of violating HSC 109575.

man heading to jail

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

A violation of Health and Safety Code 109575 is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.5

Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to the illegal manufacture or distribution of an imitation controlled substance. These are:

  1. sale of an imitation controlled substance – HSC 11355,
  2. possession of a controlled substance – HSC 11350, and
  3. sale of a synthetic stimulant – HSC 11375.5.

4.1. Sale of an imitation controlled substance – HSC 11355

Health and Safety Code 11355 HS is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to substitute an imitation controlled substance after offering to sell a real drug.6

A violation of HSC 11355 is a California wobbler offense, meaning that it can be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony in the prosecutor's discretion.

If charged as a misdemeanor, it carries a punishment of one year in county jail.7

If charged as a California felony, the penalty is up to three years in county jail.8

4.2. Possession of a controlled substance – HSC 11350

Health and Safety Code 11350 HS prohibits possessing a controlled substance without a valid prescription.9

A "controlled substance" is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by the government under the United States "Controlled Substances Act".

Controlled substances covered by HSC 11350 include narcotics and other illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and LSD. The law also applies to prescription drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin) and codeine.

A violation of HSC 11350 is usually charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.10

4.3. Sale of a synthetic stimulant – HSC 11375.5

Health and Safety Code 11375.5 HS is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to either:

  • sell or give synthetic stimulants to someone, or
  • use or possess synthetic stimulants.11

Synthetic stimulants are so-called “designer drugs” and they are designed to produce effects similar to:

  • cocaine,
  • LSD,
  • MDMA, and/or
  • methamphetamine.12

The illegal sale of synthetic stimulants is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.13

The illegal possession or use of the same can be charged as either an infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the number of times the offense was committed.

Were you accused of making or distributing an imitation controlled substance in California? Call us for help…

california drug attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRm

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Health and Safety Code 109575, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

For similar charges in Colorado, please see our article on: Colorado Law re Sale or Manufacture of an Imitation Controlled Substance (18-18-422 C.R.S.). And for similar charges in Nevada, please see our article on: "Imitation Drug" Crimes in Nevada (NRS 453.332)

Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys.


Legal References:

  1. California Health and Safety Code 109575 HS. This code section states: “Any person who knowingly manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, an imitation controlled substance is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, if convicted, be subject to imprisonment for not more than six months in the county jail or a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both the imprisonment and fine.”

  2. In re Terry H. (1995), 40 Cal. App. 4th 1675.

  3. California Health and Safety Code 109550a HS.

  4. California Health and Safety Code 109550b HS.

  5. California Health and Safety Code 109575 HS.

  6. California Health and Safety Code 11355 HS.

  7. See same.

  8. See same. See also California Penal Code 1170h PC.

  9. California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS.

  10. See same.

  11. California Health and Safety Code 11375.5b HS.

  12. See same.

  13. California Health and Safety Code 11375.5a HSC.

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