Southern California Drug Manufacturing Defense Attorney
Aggressive & Skilled Legal Advocacy
Most illicit drugs that are available in Southern California are imported from a foreign country. Cocaine, for example, is usually made into a paste in Columbia and other Andean countries where coca leaves are grown. It is then refined in South American or Mexican laboratories and smuggled into California. Heroin is typically made in Asia, South America, and Mexico, where opium poppies are grown. Ecstasy usually comes from Belgium and the Netherlands. Some drugs, however, are manufactured in clandestine labs in Southern California. Methamphetamine is a primary example. Butane hash oil (BHO) is another.
While much methamphetamine production moved to Mexico after it became more difficult to buy large quantities of pseudoephedrine, meth labs have been the basis of several recent Orange County manufacturing prosecutions. In the first four months of 2014, seventeen BHO labs were discovered in San Diego County. More than 800 illicit drug labs have been shut down in California during the last few years, reflecting California law enforcement’s commitment to fighting drug manufacturing.
Drug Manufacturing Penalties
California’s drug manufacturing laws expose accused offenders to harsh penalties. California Health and Safety Code 11379.6 HS makes it a felony to manufacture most illicit drugs. Convicted defendants face up to 7 years in prison. Sentences can be much longer, however, if the offense involves the manufacture of large quantities of methamphetamine, GBH, or PCP.
In addition, individuals face longer sentences when they are accused of manufacturing in the presence of children or manufacturing a drug that leads to a death or injury. Individuals with prior drug convictions may also face an enhanced sentence.
The same statute makes it illegal to offer to manufacture an illicit drug. That crime is a wobbler that can expose defendants to either misdemeanor or felony penalties, although prosecutors typically charge it as a felony. The maximum felony sentence is 5 years, subject to the factors noted above that can expose a defendant to a longer sentence.
Effective January 1, 2016, enhanced penalties will take effect for manufacturing BHO or methamphetamine near an occupied residence. The new penalties are a response to explosions in drug labs that endanger neighborhood residents.
The Meaning of Manufacture
Under California law, “manufacturing” a drug encompasses more than just making the drug. It also includes producing, compounding, converting, and processing the drug. For example, opium is “manufactured” when it is extracted from a poppy. Refining the opium to produce morphine constitutes the manufacture of morphine. Combining morphine with acetic anhydride to create heroin is another act of manufacturing.
Taking any step in the chemical process that leads to the creation of an illicit drug can be prosecuted as manufacturing. Creating a legal chemical compound is therefore illegal if it is created with the intent to change the compound into an illegal drug. In the jargon of the law, this is known as manufacturing a precursor substance.
On the other hand, taking steps to prepare for manufacturing an illegal drug, without engaging in any step in the manufacturing process, does not violate section 11379.6 HS. Buying lab supplies with the intent to assemble a drug lab is not enough to support a conviction.
Once the lab has been assembled and all the ingredients for manufacturing the drug are present, the line between preparing to manufacture and manufacturing becomes hazy. An attempt to manufacture is also a crime, even if the attempt is unsuccessful or the manufacturing process is never completed. The maximum penalty for attempt is half the penalty that would apply to the completed crime.
Defenses for Manufacturing Charges
A number of defenses are available to manufacturing charges. One involves the ambiguous difference between manufacturing, attempting to manufacture, and preparing to manufacture. When the evidence establishes preparation but nothing else, the accused is entitled to an acquittal or a dismissal.
Other potential defenses include:
- The product being manufactured was not a controlled substance or a precursor chemical.
- The accused did not participate in the manufacturing, even if the accused was aware of it.
- The accused was not aware of the manufacturing and was “set up” to protect the guilty party or for some other reason.
- The accused was not aware of the manufacturing and has been mistaken for the person who was actually involved.
- The evidence of manufacturing was obtained in violation of the accused’s rights and cannot be used at trial.
Turn to Attorney Randy Collins for an experienced attorney who will stop at nothing to obtain a favorable outcome to your case. Contact our office today by calling (844) 524-4011 or completing our online contact form.