June 13, 2022 By Wallin & Klarich

Riverside Couple Charged with Selling Fentanyl to Students 

Melissa Harloam-Garrison, a behavioral aide at Bright Futures Academy for K-12 students, was recently charged for selling fentanyl to special needs students on campus. The illicit activity came to the attention of authorities after a girl who attended the school overdosed on suspected fentanyl. 

After reports of an unruly student, officers went to the school to investigate and were alerted by staff that they suspected Harloam-Garrison of giving drugs to students. Upon investigating Harloam-Garrison and her husband’s residence, police found over 100 pills suspected to be fentanyl, two handguns, and various ammunition. In a second search, police found 50 more pills and additional ammunition. 

Furthermore, authorities suspect that Harloam-Garrison and her husband also recruited three students to help sell or peddle the fentanyl, which ended up in the hands of about a dozen students. Harloam-Garrison was arrested for possession of narcotics for sale, sale of narcotics to minors, possession of controlled substances, a drug addict in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm on a school campus, being a person prohibited for owning or possessing a firearm, and child endangerment. She is being held on a $50,000 bail. 

Sale of a Controlled Substance Law 

When can one be convicted of an offense involving controlled substances? For one, California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 prohibits the possession for sale of any controlled substance. As defined by this section, controlled substances include fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and opiates. Section 11352 prohibits the actual sale, furnishing, administering, giving, or transporting of such controlled substances. When the sale of controlled substances involves minors, this is a distinct offense prohibited under Section 11353. 

In order for the prosecution to convict you for possessing a controlled substance for sale, the following elements must be established: 

  • You possessed or purchased a controlled substance 
  • You knew of its presence 
  • You knew of its nature as a controlled substance 
  • You possessed or purchased the substance with an intent to sell OR you possessed enough substance to use or sell 

So how does the prosecutor prove that you possessed the controlled substance for sale? Usually, prosecutors can look at the circumstantial evidence surrounding the case. Some giveaways include large quantities of the controlled substance or evidence of drug transactions such as individual baggies, scales, or large amounts of cash. 

Penalties for Sale of a Controlled Substance 

Possessing a controlled substance for sale is considered a serious crime in California, and the penalties are severe. According to Health and Safety Code Section 11351, a conviction is punishable by: 

  • Up to $20,000 in fines 
  • Probation and up to 1 year in county jail OR 
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail 

The penalties for the actual sale or transport of a controlled substance are even harsher. Under Section 11352, this crime is punishable by: 

  • Up to $20,000 in fines 
  • 3, 4, or 5 years in county jail OR 
  • 3, 6, or 9 years in county jail if you transported controlled substances within California from one county to another noncontiguous county 

Additionally, sentence enhancements exist for certain circumstances. If the controlled substance is cocaine base, then you may face up to 5 years in county jail. If the substance is heroin or cocaine, you may also face: 

  • Up to $8,000,000 in fines 
  • Additional 3 years for more than 1 kilogram of the controlled substance 
  • Additional 5 years for over 2 kilograms 
  • Additional 10 years for over 10 kilograms 
  • Additional 15 years for over 20 kilograms 
  • Additional 20 years for over 40 kilograms 
  • Additional 25 years for over 80 kilograms 

If you have been previously convicted for a drug felony, you may be sentenced to an additional 3 years for each prior conviction. 

In cases involving minors, you may face up to 9 years in state prison if you are an adult found guilty of selling or giving a controlled substance to a minor, or employing a minor for the sale of a controlled substance. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

California has strict laws regarding controlled substances. If you are arrested for possessing or selling a controlled substance, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients defend against drug-related charges, and we have the skills and resources to help you as well. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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