Criminal Law

2441. Use of False Compartment to Conceal Controlled Substance

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with ((possessing/using/ controlling)/ [or] (designing/constructing/building/altering/ fabricating/insalling/attaching)) a false compartment with the intent to (store/conceal/smuggle/transport) a controlled substance in a vehicle.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

<A. Possessed, Used, Controlled>

1. [The defendant (possessed/used/controlled) a false compartment with the intent to (store/conceal/smuggle/ transport) a controlled substance in the false compartment in a vehicle(;/.)]


<B. Designed, Built, etc.>

2. ][The defendant (designed/constructed/built/altered/ fabricated/installed/attached) a false compartment (for/ in/to) a vehicle with the intent to (store/conceal/smuggle/ transport) a controlled substance in it.]

A false compartment is any box, container, space, or enclosure intended or designed to (conceal[,]/hide[,]/ [or] [otherwise] prevent discovery of) any controlled substance within or attached to a vehicle. A false compartment may be ((a/an) (false/modified/ altered) fuel tank[,]/original factory equipment of a vehicle that is (modified/altered/changed)[,]/ [or] a compartment, space, or box that is added to, or made or created from, existing compartments, spaces, or boxes within a vehicle).

A vehicle includes any car, truck, bus, aircraft, boat, ship, yacht, or vessel.

[Two or more people may possess something at the same time.]

[A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has (control over it/ [or] the right to control it), either personally or through another person.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime. Give either optional paragraph A, B, or both, depending on the charged crime and the evidence proffered at trial.


Elements. Health & Saf. Code, § 11366.8.

False Compartment Does Not Require Modification. People v. Gonzalez (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 1405, 1414 [11 Cal.Rptr.3d 434].

Constructive vs. Actual Possession. People v. Barnes (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 552, 556 [67 Cal.Rptr.2d 162].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, § 117.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 145, Narcotics and Alcohol Offenses, § 145.01[1][o] (Matthew Bender).

(New January 2006)