There is often a great deal of surprise when people are formally charged with crimes, in large part they find themselves facing charges that they didn’t even know existed. A perfect example of this is someone who has been arrested for drugs. It’s not uncommon for them to learn that in addition to possession of drugs, they’ve also been charged with using a false compartment to hide drugs, something they didn’t realize was a formal crime in California.
Using a false compartment to hide drugs is discussed in Health and Safety Code 11366.8 HS. The law very clearly states that in California, “every person who possesses, uses, or controls a false compartment with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle, or transport a controlled substance within the false compartment shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term of imprisonment not to exceed one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code. Every person who design, construct, build, alter, or fabricate a false compartment for, or installs or attaches a false compartment to, a vehicle with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle, or transport a controlled substance.”
The size of the false container is irrelevant in this particular charge. A woman who conceals a small amount of drugs in a locket or ring when she goes out clubbing will be charged with concealing drugs. The same is true for a person who has hundreds of pounds worth of drugs stashed in a hidden compartment in their home.
In California, hiding drugs in a false compartment is a felony offense. The amount and type of drugs you were caught with doesn’t matter. The only time your exact circumstances come into play is when the judge is determining your sentence. They have the option of ordering you to spend 12-36 months in jail. Factors that they’ll consider when issuing the sentence include the amount/type of drug you tried to hide, what your intentions were, and your criminal history.
It would be highly unusual for a person to be charged with hiding drugs in a false compartment and nothing else. Charges that usually accompany a hiding drugs in a false compartment charge include:
- Possession with the intent to sell
- Simple possession of drugs
- Drug trafficking
- Operating a drug house
- Manufacturing drugs/narcotics
If you’ve been charged with concealing drugs in a false compartment, you’ll want a good lawyer who can help you plan a sound defense.