It is a federal offense to knowingly or intentionally manufacture an unlawful controlled substance or create a counterfeit substance that you intend to pass off as an illicit drug or controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine, and for individuals charged with a drug manufacturing crime in federal court, there is a great deal at stake. As part of its ongoing “war on drugs,” the federal government has taken an aggressive stance against criminal offenses involving the sale and distribution of illicit drugs, prescription drugs or controlled substances.
If you were arrested for drug manufacturing in California, you could be facing criminal charges for federal drug manufacturing. If you find yourself in this position, your best chance at getting the charges dismissed or reduced, winning at trial or avoiding criminal charges altogether is to enlist the help of a reputable drug crimes defense attorney with experience in federal court.
Federal Drug Manufacturing Charges
Drug manufacturing is a crime in every state, California included, and both federal and California state laws can come into play with drug crimes like drug manufacturing. The application of federal law in a drug manufacturing case depends on several factors, including the type and amount of the manufactured drug, where the alleged drug manufacturing occurred, and whether the manufacturing is connected in any way to an illegal drug operation.
Drug manufacturing is a serious drug crime and a conviction in federal court carries harsh penalties. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you could also face federal charges for attempt and conspiracy (21 U.S. Code § 846) for any attempt to violate federal drug manufacturing laws, drug trafficking or distribution (21 U.S.C. § 841), and/or RICO charges (18 U.S. Code §§ 1961-1968) for any suspected racketeering activity.
Often, drug crimes prosecuted at the federal level include violations of tax law, such as money laundering, tax evasion and other white-collar crimes.
Drug Manufacturing – 21 U.S. Code § 841
The federal statute that covers drug manufacturing crimes is 21 U.S.C. § 841, which states that it is against the law for any person “knowingly or intentionally – to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; or to create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.” Federal drug manufacturing charges can be brought against any person accused of violating 21 U.S.C. § 841, including any person who participates in the manufacturing process, provides chemicals or equipment to be used in the manufacturing process, or manages a facility where drugs or controlled substances are allegedly manufactured.
The Controlled Substances Act
A controlled substance is any drug or chemical whose possession, use or manufacture is regulated by the government, such as illicit drugs and prescription medications, and the Controlled Substances Act, found in Title 21 of the United States Code, is a federal law that categorizes narcotics and other controlled substances into five categories, known as schedules. The following are the five drug schedules established by federal law and some examples of drugs that fall under each schedule:
• Schedule I consists of drugs and other substances that have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. This includes LSD, heroin, ecstasy, peyote and marijuana.
• Schedule II consists of drugs and other substances that have a high potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use, and a risk of severe physical or psychological dependence. This includes Vicodin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall and oxycodone.
• Schedule III consists of drugs and other substances that have a potential for abuse that is lower than the substances in schedules I and II, a currently accepted medical use, and a risk of moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. This includes Tylenol with codeine, testosterone and ketamine.
• Schedule IV consists of drugs and other substances that have a low potential for abuse compared to the substances in schedule III, a currently accepted medical use, and a limited risk of physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in schedule III. This includes Xanax, Valium, Abien, Darvon and Darvocet.
• Schedule V consists of drugs and other substances that have a low potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use, and a limited risk of physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in schedule IV. This includes Robitussin AC, Lyrica and Lomotil.
Penalties for Federal Drug Manufacturing Crimes
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the agency tasked with enforcing the federal laws that apply to the manufacture of illicit drugs and controlled substances, and the penalties associated with a federal drug manufacturing offense can be extremely harsh.
As with other federal drug crimes, the specific criminal penalties for a drug manufacturing conviction vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug or controlled substance and other factors. At the very least, a conviction for federal drug manufacturing involving a controlled substance in schedule V, the lowest schedule, carries a potential punishment of up to one year in federal prison, $100,000 in fines (individual) or $250,000 in fines (group or organization), or both, and the penalties only get worse from there.
You could be sentenced to a far stiffer prison term of no less than 10 years and possible life imprisonment, plus $10 million in fines (individual) or $50 million in fines (group or organization), if you are found guilty of manufacturing an illicit drug or controlled substance in the following quantities:
• Heroin – 1 kilogram or more
• Coca leaves, cocaine or ecgonine – 5 kilograms or more
• Cocaine base – 280 grams or more
• PCP – 100 grams or more
• LSD – 10 grams or more
• Fentanyl – 400 grams or more
• Marijuana – 1,000 kilograms or more
• Methamphetamine – 50 grams or more
There are also certain sentence-enhancing factors that can increase the penalties for drug manufacturing, such as the defendant’s criminal history, whether a firearm was used in the commission of the alleged offense, and whether death or serious bodily injury resulted from the use of the substance the defendant is accused of manufacturing. For instance, if you are found guilty of unlawfully manufacturing one kilogram or more of heroin and you have a prior conviction for a serious drug felony or serious violent felony, you could face an enhanced sentence of no less than 15 years in federal prison and possible life imprisonment.
If you are found guilty of unlawfully manufacturing one kilogram or more of heroin and another person died or suffered serious bodily injury as a result of using the drug, you could face an enhanced sentence of no less than 20 years in federal prison and possible life imprisonment.
Collateral Consequences of a Drug Manufacturing Conviction
There are other life-changing consequences you could face as a result of a conviction for federal drug manufacturing, in addition to spending years or even decades in federal prison and paying thousands or even millions of dollars in fines. These are known as collateral consequences and they are known to adversely affect an offender’s future housing, employment, property rights, immigration and professional licensing opportunities, among other aspects of the offender’s personal, professional and social life.
It is also important to note that, under 21 U.S. Code § 853, the government has the authority to seize drugs, any equipment used to manufacture or transport drugs, and any property used or intended to be used in a drug transaction or to facilitate a drug crime. This could include your home, your car and any profits or assets obtained through or used in the commission of a felony drug crime like drug manufacturing.
How a Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer Can Help
The federal criminal justice system is far more complex than the state court system and it can be difficult to navigate a federal drug manufacturing case without the expertise of a knowledgeable drug crimes defense lawyer. Unlike state cases, which are prosecuted by a district attorney, federal drug cases are prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney, and in order to convict you of drug manufacturing in federal court, the prosecutor must be able to prove each element of the federal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The following are the elements necessary for a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841:
• You manufactured, distributed or dispensed a controlled substance, or possessed with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance; or
• You created, distributed or dispensed a counterfeit substance, or possessed with the intent to distribute or dispense a counterfeit substance; and
• You did any of these acts knowingly or intentionally.
A good defense attorney can introduce convincing evidence and testimony aimed at challenging the prosecution’s case and preventing the government from meeting its burden of proof. With the right legal strategy, you may be able to secure an acquittal at trial.
Consult the Drug Manufacturing Defense Team at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers
Drug offenses like drug manufacturing at the federal level differ from those at the state level, even though the alleged criminal conduct may be the same, and the penalties for drug manufacturing are significantly more severe in federal court than they are in California state court.
If you have been arrested by federal agents for drug manufacturing in California, or if you received a target letter from the federal government, it is imperative that you seek qualified legal counsel as quickly as possible. Facing federal charges for drug manufacturing can change the course of your entire life, so don’t leave the outcome up to chance. Contact our knowledgeable drug manufacturing defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers today to find out how we can help.