Under California law, it is unlawful to manufacture any illegal substance or narcotics. The law is broad; it covers everything from mixing a final product to compounding ingredients. The manufacture of a controlled substance is a felony in California and the potential penalties are steep. If you have been charged with manufacturing controlled substances in L.A. County, William Kroger Attorney at Law is here to help.
What Constitutes Manufacturing Controlled Substances in California
According to California Health and Safety Code 11379.6, any person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis any controlled substance is guilty of manufacturing controlled substances.
You can be convicted of manufacturing whether the substance you were creating is a controlled substance or an intermediate substance used in making the final product. Known as a “precursor,” this can include legal substances which will later be mixed to create a controlled substance. The prosecutor doesn't need to prove you were even aware of what substance you were manufacturing, so long as you understood it was a controlled substance. Finally, it's worth noting that you can be charged with manufacturing of a controlled substance even if you aren't directly manufacturing the controlled substance yourself. If another person manufactures drugs under your direction, both of you can be charged. Consider the following example:
You run a drug manufacturing operation from a building you own. You don't actively produce the controlled substances or precursors yourself, but instead leave that to a subordinate. You purchase the ingredients required to make the precursors and final product; most of them are legal to purchase. Acting on a tip, police raid your building. While you aren't present, your subordinate is caught in the midst of compounding a number of substances that will ultimately be used to create methamphetamine. Even though you weren't present at the time of the arrest, both your subordinate may be charged with manufacturing a controlled substance in California.
Potential Penalties for a Conviction for Manufacturing Controlled Substances
A violation of California Health and Safety Code 11379.6, California's law against manufacturing a controlled substance, is a felony. According to the statute, you can be sentenced to either three, five, or seven years in prison if convicted. Section 11379.6 even sets out a penalty for merely offering to manufacture a controlled substance. A conviction for offering to manufacture a controlled substance is punishable by three, four, or five years in jail.
The penalties for a conviction for manufacturing controlled substances in California are stiff to begin with. However, there are four factors that can lead to enhanced penalties:
- Prior convictions
- Manufacturing large amounts of controlled substances
- Causing death or serious injury, or
- Manufacturing controlled substances around children.
If you have certain previous convictions for drug-related crimes you may receive a longer sentence than you would otherwise. These prior convictions, whether for the act itself or for conspiracy, can add three years to your sentence for each qualifying prior conviction. If convicted, your sentence would be enhanced by qualifying convictions regardless of whether you served a prison sentence or not. Some prior convictions that would enhance your sentence are:
- Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale;
- Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sale;
- Transporting or Selling a Controlled Substance;
- Manufacturing a controlled substance; or
- The sale of methamphetamine.
Manufacturing large amounts of controlled substances
You will also face additional jail time if you are convicted of manufacturing a large amount of certain controlled substances. The drugs that can lead to an enhanced sentence are Methamphetamine, PCP, and GHB. A high volume of any of these substances will lead to additional, consecutive jail time. The enhancements are as follows:
- Where the substance exceeds three gallons of liquid by volume or one pound of solid substances by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of three years.
- Where the substance exceeds 10 gallons of liquid by volume or three pounds of solid substance by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of five years
- Where the substance exceeds 25 gallons of liquid by volume or 10 pounds of solid substance by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of 10 years.
- Where the substance exceeds 105 gallons of liquid by volume or 44 pounds of solid substance by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of 15 years.
Causing death or serious injury
You may also face additional penalties if another person is injured or killed during the course of your manufacturing. Each person injured or killed due to your manufacturing controlled substances will add one year to the end of your sentence. Each year is served consecutively. However, you will not receive any enhanced penalties if the injured or deceased person was an accomplice in your manufacturing operation. To better visualize this, consider the following example:
You and an accomplice are in the process of manufacturing methamphetamine at your home when something goes wrong. The meth lab catches fire and explodes, injuring yourself and killing your accomplice instantly. The explosion also gravely injures two of your neighbors that were passing by your home at the time of the explosion. After a trial, you are convicted of manufacturing a controlled substance. Your sentence will be enhanced by two years; one for each of the neighbors injured in the explosion. There is no additional time for the death of your accomplice or for the injuries you sustained.
Manufacturing controlled substances around children
Finally, you will face stiff enhancements if you manufacture methamphetamine in close proximity to children. If you are convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine and a minor under the age of 16 was present at the time of the violation, you will be given an additional two years in state prison. That added time must run consecutively to your primary sentence. If a minor under the age of 16 suffers a grave bodily injury due to your manufacturing efforts, you will receive an additional five-year sentence in state prison.
Potential Defenses in L.A. County to a Charge of Manufacturing Controlled Substances
There is a wide variety of defenses that could apply in your case. Ultimately, it is up to you and your attorney to review the facts of your case and determine the best defenses available to you. However, in most cases there are three distinct types of defenses that can apply in a drug manufacturing case: (1) the presence of an illegal search or seizure, (2) you were present but did not participate in the manufacturing, or (3) you were merely preparing to manufacture controlled substances but had not started the process.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Thanks to the United States Constitution, you are protected from the illegal search or seizure of your person or possessions by the government. Even if you are guilty of the crime of manufacturing a controlled substance, the government cannot use any evidence collected under the illegal search or seizure against you at trial. Known as “fruit of the poisonous tree,” California law bars the state from benefiting from evidence collected illegally by excluding any use or mention of it at trial.
Not Participating in the Manufacture of a Controlled Substance
The most straight-forward defense is that you simply weren't involved in the crime at all. It's possible that you were in the vicinity of a drug manufacturing lab despite not having any role in the manufacturing. If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were arrested at a manufacturing site you may have a defense.
It's not uncommon for drug users to frequent these labs when attempting to make a purchase. While you might still face legal jeopardy for other criminal activities in this situation, you may have a defense against a manufacturing charge. It's also possible that you could have been in a shared space without even being aware controlled substances were being manufactured nearby. An experienced defense attorney will review your case and determine if this defense may be viable in your case.
Did Not Initiate the Manufacturing Process
While California Health and Safety Code 11379.6 outlaws the manufacture of a controlled substance, it does not bar the preparation done before manufacturing. For example, this includes the purchase and gathering of required ingredients. If you have not yet purchased all the necessary ingredients or if the necessary equipment has not yet been set up you may have a defense to manufacturing a controlled substance.
It should be noted that this defense may be difficult to prove; an experienced criminal defense attorney must use their skill to differentiate between preparing to manufacture drugs and actually attempting to do so. What's more, if you are in possession of ingredients or precursors that are themselves illegal substances you may still be found guilty of a different crime.
Hiring the Right California Criminal Defense Attorney
A charge of manufacturing controlled substances is a felony; a conviction on a manufacturing charge can cost you your freedom and change your life forever. To discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact William Kroger Attorney at Law today.