Review of Federal Drug Manufacturing Charges and Defenses
There are federal drug laws that make it crime to manufacture, possess with the intent to manufacture, or distribute a controlled substance.
21 U.S.C. § 841 is the federal statute used to prosecute drug manufacturing and other areas of the illegal drug trade.
While most drug cases are filed in state criminal courts, it's also a federal drug crime to knowingly or intentionally manufacture unlawful controlled substances.
A federal drug manufacturing offense occurs when a person or group of people produce, or attempt to produce, a controlled substance such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
Federal drug manufacturing charges under 21 U.S.C. § 841 are normally only pursued where there is a direct connection to a large-scale illegal drug operation. Facing federal drug charges can be challenging.
Federal sentences are typically stiffer than California state sentences, and cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, with the federal government's weight and resources behind them.
Hiring an attorney experienced in federal crimes is your best chance to build a good defense.
Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 841 prohibits the manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs or controlled substances.
Under this statute, it is a federal crime to knowingly or intentionally:
- manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with the intent, a controlled substance, or
- create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with the intent, a counterfeit substance.
Under federal law, you must have known you were manufacturing an illegal substance or have specific intent to do so.
Drug manufacturing charges under this statute can be filed by the federal prosecutor against anyone participating in the drug production process.
For example, any person who provides the chemicals or equipment that are used to manufacture the illegal controlled substances.
Another example is any person who manages or controls the facility used for drug manufacturing, or even someone who makes an agreement to assist them in the manufacturing process.
The main federal law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of federal drug manufacturing cases is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
A United States Attorney is responsible for the prosecution of all federal drug offenses, such as drug manufacturing.
In order to convict a defendant of violating 21 U.S.C. § 841, they will have to prove all the elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt.
Federal Penalties for 21 U.S.C. § 841 Drug Manufacturing
Federal penalties for drug manufacturing are severe, with penalties varying based on the substance and the amount and whether any weapons were involved.
The mandatory minimum penalty for drug manufacturing under the Controlled Substances Act is five years in federal prison.
However, if you are found guilty of 21 U.S.C. § 841 manufacturing a controlled substance in certain quantities, the sentence is more severe.
The penalty can be five to 40 years in prison if the crime involves:
- 100 grams or more of heroin,
- 500 grams or more of cocaine,
- 28 grams or more of cocaine base,
- 10 grams or more of PCP or 100 grams or more of a substance containing PCP,
- 1 gram or more of a substance containing LSD,
- 100 kilograms or more of marijuana or 100 or more marijuana plants, or
- five grams or more of methamphetamine or 50 grams or more of a substance containing meth.
The penalty can be ten to forty years in prison if the crime involves:
- one kilogram or more of heroin,
- five kilograms or more of cocaine,
- 280 grams or more of cocaine base,
- 100 grams or more of PCP or one kilogram or more of a substance containing PCP,
- 10 grams or more of a substance containing LSD,
- 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana or 1,000 or more marijuana plants, or
- fifty grams or more of methamphetamine or 500 grams or more of a substance containing meth.
If the defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, the penalty is 20 to life in a federal prison.
If death or a serious injury results from the use of the drug, the sentence increases to 20 to life in prison.
If death or serious injury results from the use of the drug and the defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, the penalty is life in prison. Fines for these crimes range from $5 million to $75 million.
Defending Federal Drug Manufacturing Charges
While federal drug manufacturing charges can seem overwhelming, a skilled criminal defense attorney can build a good defense. Some of the most common defenses include:
- no knowledge: under the Controlled Substances Act, drug manufacturing requires knowledge that you made an illegal substance or the intent to do so. If the prosecution can't show that you had the necessary knowledge or intent, you may have a valid defense.
- no intent: if you didn't intend to manufacture an illegal substance or you can show that you had some of the ingredients for another reason, you may be able to attack the intent element of the crime.
- police entrapment: if you wouldn't have violated the Controlled Substances Act if it weren't for police coercion, you may have an entrapment defense.
- illegal search: if the police failed to obtain a warrant, or the basis for their warrant was impermissible, you might argue that the police obtained the evidence against you from an illegal search. If so, the court may throw out the evidence.
- improper police procedures: if the police violated your civil rights by failing to follow proper procedures, a court may deem any statement the police obtained from you to be inadmissible. Examples can include failing to advise you of your Miranda rights or not allowing you to consult with an attorney,
Your best chance to successfully defend a federal drug manufacturing charge is to hire an attorney with extensive federal drug defense experience as soon as possible.
If you're facing federal drug charges, you need experienced legal advice.
Our skilled criminal attorneys can help determine the best options for your defense.
We might be able to negotiate with the federal prosecutor for reduced charges of even a case dismissal.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm representing people against federal crimes in Southern California and throughout the United States.
We have two office locations in Los Angeles County, including Century City and Van Nuys.
Call our law firm for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570, or contact us online.