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Operating a Drug House Laws (HS 11366) in California- IE-Criminal Defense

HS 11366: Operating a Drug House Laws

Legal Definition: Every person who opens or maintains any place for the purpose of unlawfully selling, giving away, or using any controlled substance…shall be punished by imprisonment.

In order for an individual to be convicted of a violation of HS 11366, it is imperative that the prosecution establishes the following elements:

  • Opening and maintaining a place;
  • Opening said place with the explicit intent to sell, distribute, or permit the use of a controlled substance or narcotic drug;
  • Continuous engagement in said activities.

These factors serve as the basis for the prosecution’s case and highlight the need for experienced, expertise, authority, and trustworthy evaluation of the evidence.

What does this mean?

Under this specific code section, a “place” is defined as a residence, such as a house or apartment, however, it is not limited to these types of properties. In certain limited circumstances, a hotel can also be considered a “place” for the purpose of this provision, as long as the sale of drugs was conducted continually from that specific location. It is important to note that this particular charge only applies to individuals who are involved in the operation of an establishment where people are permitted to enter and exit for drug-related purposes.

It is crucial to understand that if you possess a home where controlled substances are consumed, it would not be classified as a “drug house”, but rather it would be considered a case of simple possession of the drug that is being used in your own residence.

Furthermore, it is important to highlight that this criminal statute necessitates that the primary reason for establishing and maintaining the specified location was for the purpose of facilitating drug-related activities by others. Consequently, if you have a justifiable reason for running a residence and it is not for the purpose of engaging in illegal narcotics activities, this can serve as a valid defense in your case. It is imperative to understand that the prosecution has the burden of proving that you specifically intended to commit the prohibited act and desired the resulting consequences. Additionally, it is essential to establish that the drug-related activities at the location were conducted in a continuous manner. If law enforcement authorities apprehend you on your initial night of attempting to sell, distribute or allow others to use narcotics, it would not suffice to meet the requirement of continuity under this section. In order to establish continuous drug activity, it typically involves instances where individuals frequently enter and exit the location. Moreover, it is important to note that police sting operations are often employed to substantiate this element of the crime.

Please be advised that the above information is provided from a position of experience, expertise, and authority, ensuring that you have access to trustworthy guidance in this matter.


Under this code section, HS 11366 is a wobbler offense, which means you can be charged under this section as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Whether you are charged under this section as a misdemeanor or a felony, depends on the specific facts of your case, such as the amount of people and drugs found at your residence, how often this has been happening, and your prior criminal history. If you are convicted under this section as a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. If you are convicted of this section as a felony, you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 16 months, 2 or 3 years. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You can also be subjected to fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Because this is a crime of drug possession and sales, it would be considered a crime of moral turpitude, that would affect people’s Immigration status as well as their Professional Licenses. However, it is not a Strike offense under the California Three Strike Law. It is also not a sex crime requiring Sex Registration under PC 290.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights

An effective defense strategy lies in challenging the stated reasons for maintaining the residence. Should you choose to own a home and facilitate room rentals as its primary purpose, it would not be deemed a Drug House. If the residents of your home engage in drug-related activities without your knowledge, it becomes challenging to establish your specific intent to operate a Drug House. The prosecution must demonstrate that you are aware of and actively participating in their narcotic operations to prove guilt in this matter. Failure to provide such evidence would insufficiently support the case against you.

Furthermore, your defense can rely on asserting violations of your Fourth Amendment rights by the police. If law enforcement were to enter your home without a valid search warrant or conduct a search beyond the scope of an authorized warrant, your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney can effectively challenge these infringements. By doing so, your case may be dismissed by the court. Remember, these actions directly undermine your rights, and you have the legal standing to contest them with the assistance of your attorney under PC 1538.5.

Call Today

In the maze of drug-related laws, HS 11366 – which addresses the operation of a Drug House – stands as a particularly nuanced statute. At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our team of adept attorneys brings unmatched expertise to the table when it comes to defending individuals faced with drug charges, especially those related to HS 11366 in the Inland Empire region.

Our consistent success is built on a foundation of understanding. We deeply comprehend the intricacies of these cases, leveraging our knowledge to showcase the absence of specific intent in our clients’ actions. With a firm grasp on this complex facet of law, we have repeatedly stood our ground against prosecutors, often yielding favorable outcomes for our clients.

For anyone facing the harrowing prospect of drug-related charges, we provide a beacon of hope and assurance. Engage with us through a complimentary initial consultation, available anytime, as we operate round-the-clock to address your queries and concerns.

Entrust your defense to an institution renowned for its expertise and commitment. Dial 909-281-0465 and let’s map out your path to legal relief. And for those in the vicinity, you can find us ideally situated in Ontario, CA.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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