The California Health & Safety Code, in Section 11379.6, criminalizes the manufacture of controlled substances. It even criminalizes, in fact, the mere offer of conducting any action whatsoever that assist in the process of manufacturing a controlled substance. Anyone who takes part in any step involved in the manufacture of such substances, provided they did so willfully and knowingly, is guilty under HSC 11379.6. This includes operating meth labs and creating precursor chemicals along with final production of illegal drugs.
A controlled substance is any drug that has been banned or restricted in use under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Some of the most commonly manufactured illegal drugs that this act controls include ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, PCP, LSD, meth, and marijuana. Many of these drugs are also controlled under California state law as well as under federal law.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove?
The prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you engaged in any step of the drug-manufacturing process, in any way whatsoever, and that you did so willingly, knowing that you were producing an illegal substance. It is not necessary that you completed the drug-making process- any initial or intermediate step is enough to render you guilty.
For example, a person who was manufacturing piperidine, a precursor chemical used to produce PCP, was convicted of drug manufacturing. Other evidences present that suggested he was aware of what he was doing included a large, garage-based lab with much equipment and the presence in the garage of sodium hydroxide, which is used in the last step of producing PCP. This was sufficient evidence to convince the jury of the defendant's end-goal.
Possible Legal Defenses
Among the most common defenses that attorneys used to defeat or mitigate charges of drug manufacturing are the following:
- While you were preparing to manufacture drugs, you had not yet begun to actually do so. These two states of affairs are carefully distinguished in California law.
- The drugs, production equipment, and lab location were discovered by means of an illegal search and seizure. Thus, the evidence is inadmissible in court.
- You were arrested because you happened to be at the drug lab at the time of the bust, but you did not manufacture any drugs. It may be you were a drug addict who came to buy drugs, that others were manufacturing drugs on your property without your knowledge, or that you were simply visiting a location that had a secret drug lab in it without your being aware of that fact.
- You were mistakenly identified by those who did not get a truly good look at the offender or by those who assumed your guilt without a thorough investigation.
- You were falsely accused by those who had a grudge against you, who needed a scapegoat, by police personnel, or by unreliable police informants.
Drug manufacturing and offering to manufacture drugs are both felony charges in the state of California, and both are very serious allegations with long-term consequences upon conviction.
Drug manufacturing is punishable by:
- A state prison term of 3, 5, or 7 years
- If the judge is lenient, a one-year county jail term and a probationary period in place of the prison term
- A fine of up to $50,000
Offering to manufacture drugs is punishable by:
- A county jail term of 3, 4, or 5 years
- OR A one-year jail term with probation, depending on the presiding judge's discretion
Extra punishment can accrue under certain circumstances, and the most common enhancements include the following:
- If a child under the age of sixteen lived in the building where the drugs were manufactured, the punishment will be enhanced as follows: two extra years in prison if PCP was being manufactured and five extra years if the child suffered “great bodily injury.”
- Anyone who manufactures large quantities of PCP, meth, or GHB will serve extra prison time according the following schedule: 3 additional years for one pound or three gallons of drugs manufactured, 5 extra years for three pounds or ten gallons, 10 extra years for ten pounds or 25 gallons, and 15 additional years for 44 pounds or 105 gallons manufactured.
- If, while producing PCP or meth, you cause great bodily injury or death to another person (other than to an criminal assistant), one extra year in prison applies for each injury or death.
- Those with previous drug convictions, such as under HSC 11351 for possession for sale, under HSC 11352 for sale/transport, or under HSC 11378 or HSC 11379 for possession and sale of methamphetamine, 3 extra years in prison apply for each previous such felony conviction.
Reduction to Simple Possession
Skilled defense attorneys can sometimes convince prosecutors that your drug-manufacturing activities were merely intended for your own personal use. If so, you could obtain a plea bargain that reduces the charge to that of simple possession, which then makes you eligible for one of California's drug diversion programs. Such programs allow you to exchange completion of a drug rehabilitation program for jail or prison time, and the charges can then be dismissed after the the rehab is finished. This will keep a drug manufacturing conviction off of your criminal record and help you in applications to employers, educational institutions, and apartment complexes in the future.
How Can We Help
The Law Offices of Jeff Voll has long served the L.A. and southern California area with expert legal defense against various drug-related charges, including the charge of drug manufacturing. We have the detailed knowledge of the California criminal code and the long practical experience in local courts necessary to give you the best possible chance of winning your case.
To find out more information about these topics, please call us direct at 323-467-6400