HS 11379.6, 11366.5, 11351, 11352, 11378, 11379, 11377, 11378, 11379, PC 451, 452, 1000 - California Laws Regulating Manufacturing Methamphetamine in Illegal Meth Labs

Criminal Defense Picture

California Laws Regarding the Production of Methamphetamine.

1. California Laws Regulating Manufacturing Methamphetamine in Illegal Meth Labs

Meth labs pose serious safety risks to the public in several ways. Meth labs:

  • pollute the surrounding area with toxic substances,
  • Start fires as a result of explosions,
  • breed crime in the area.

Though law enforcement works hard to rid areas of meth labs, there are many of them constantly being set up because meth is a relatively easy drug to produce. Not only can a lab be set up in basically any private space from garages to apartments, but the actual chemicals used to make meth can easily be obtained. It is also difficult to discover meth labs unless an explosion occurs.

1.1. Health and Safety Code 11379.6 HS California’s Law Against Manufacturing Narcotics

California’s law prohibiting the manufacturing of narcotics covers a wide range of controlled drugs (substances regulated by the government under the Controlled Substances Act). 

Meth falls under the umbrella of controlled substances, meaning that in California it is illegal to do any of the following:

  • manufacture,
  • compound,
  • convert,
  • produce,
  • derive,
  • process,
  • prepare,

In other words, operating a meth lab in any sense is a crime. Understand that you need not fully produce meth. It is enough to partially cook or be involved in the manufacturing process of meth to be convicted. As soon as you take part in any way, you are considered to have completed a crime. That being said, you must at least start the process. Merely preparing to cook meth is not enough to be convicted.

1.2. Health and Safety Code 11366.5 HS California’s Law Against Allowing Others to Manufacture Narcotics in your Home or Other Structure

Code 11366 is a law that specifically punishes those who are managing/in control of the production of meth and knowingly does any of the following:

  • Allows someone else to produce, store, sell, or distribute a controlled substance in the space
  • Allows the space to be equipped to protect against police officers from coming
  • Is selling controlled substances at a higher price than what is deemed fair

This law specifically targets meth labs, but you may be subject to extra charges under California’s conspiracy laws or California’s aiding and abetting laws if you are

  • Producing meth
  • Mixing chemicals to make meth
  • Purchasing equipment to make meth
  • etc.,

2. Legal Defenses

Here are some of the most common defenses against meth lab charges

2.1. Your Acts were Merely Preparatory

Unless you actually engaged in one of the steps in producing meth, you haven’t committed a crime. Preparing to produce meth isn’t enough to be convicted. However, if you are in the middle of completing a step to produce meth and law enforcement intervenes, you will be charged with only half a sentence. According to California’s laws regarding attempted crimes, you have only attempted a crime.

One criminal defense attorney says,  “This means that, for example, buying the ingredients and equipment to make meth without actually setting them up for use is not enough to convict you under California law.  Preparing to commit a crime is not the same as engaging in a crime – period.”

2.2. Illegal Search and Seizure

It doesn’t matter the scale of the meth lab you’re operating, if law enforcement finds your lab through illegal means, charges against you must be dropped.

Violations of search and seizure laws include:

  • searching without a California search warrant
  • searching with an invalid warrant (the warrant was based on the information given from an unreliable source)
  • the search was conducted without a probable cause
  • the search was conducted outside of the area identified by a warrant

2.3. Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Since meth labs can be run anywhere, including places where multiple people may live, you may have lived in the building/area where a meth lab was being run, but you weren’t actually involved or aware of the lab. This can be used as a legitimate defense. 

2.4. Mistaken Identity/False Accusations

You could be the victim of an accusation. For example, someone might blame you to avoid accountability. Other reasons could include someone trying to blame you simply because they have something against you (angry ex, neighbor, etc.).

Mistaken identity is a defendable stance, and if this is the situation you’re in, our attorneys are equipped to help.

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing for CA Meth Labs

In California, operating a meth lab is a felony punishable by

  • probation plus up to five years in jail,
  • three to seven years in prison (five to seven years more likely if you were specifically producing. crystal meth),
  • a maximum fine of $50,000.

Offering to help operate a meth lab, though less severe, is still a felony punishable by probation and local time of three to five years in prison.

3.1. Injury or Death

Bodily injury, which most likely would result from an explosion, will add extra charges to your sentence of one year for each injury. Causing a fire could also lead to charges under Penal Code 452 PC California’s reckless burning law, a less serious offense than Penal Code 451 arson.

3.3. Manufacturing Narcotics in the Presence of Children

Aside from producing crystal meth, another good way to get the five to seven-year sentence is by having a minor under 16 in the building where you are producing meth. Two years are added to your sentence in the event that you have a minor in the building. 

If the minor also receives bodily injury (as defined by California law), you will be sentenced to five years of prison in addition to the sentence you received for the initial violation. 

For a three-to-nine-year prison sentence, you must have

  1. Utilized the help of a minor to produce meth
  2. Offered or completed in giving a minor an illicit drug

3.4. Prior Drug-Related Convictions

Having previous convictions for drug-related offenses, including conspiring, violations 

  • Health and Safety Code 11351 HS California’s law against possessing a controlled substance for sale,
  • Health and Safety Code 11352 HS California’s law against transporting or selling a controlled substance,
  • Health and Safety Code sections 11378 and 11379 HS California’s laws against possessing or selling methamphetamines
  • operating a meth lab or otherwise manufacturing narcotics in violation of Health and Safety Code 11379.6 HS

You will receive an extra three year sentence for each previous felony conviction, regardless if you went to prison.

3.5. Drug Diversion

Drug rehabilitation (“drug diversion”) is an alternative sentence you may be able to receive instead of jail/prison as long as you aren’t guilty of committing any acts of violence. Although, for the most part, this option is only available to those in possession of meth for personal use.

In California, drug diversion programs are

  • Proposition 3621
  • Penal Code 1000 PC22 
  • California drug court

Successful completion of drug diversion will lead to the rest of your charges being dropped. This option will only be offered if the prosecutor thinks the drug diversion will change your behavior in the future and that you only had meth for personal use.

4. Related Offenses

The following lists related charges to operating a clandestine meth lab.

4.1. Conspiracy and Health and Safety Code 11366.5 California’s Law Against Allowing Another Person to Operate a Meth Lab in Your Home or Other Structure

Four years in state prison for allowing someone else to operate your meth lab. Prosecutors could charge you with aiding and abetting under California law and/or conspiracy laws

4.2. Health and Safety Code 11377, 11378 & 11379 HS California’s Laws Against Possessing, Selling and/or Transporting Methamphetamine

Health and Safety Code 11377, 11378 & 11379 HS are the California laws regulating the possession, sale, and transportation of meth. These offenses are most commonly charged alongside charges of offenses that occur on the location of a meth lab.

Possession of methamphetamine under HS 11377 is what’s called a “wobbler”. In California, a “wobbler offense” is where prosecution may be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the details of your case and your criminal past.

If charged with a misdemeanor, you will receive only up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If, however, you are charged with a felony, you face probation, sixteen months to three years in state prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000.

The same charge for a felony is given if you transport meth across more than two countries, but your prison sentence could increase to as much as nine years.

4.3. Health and Safety Code 11550 HS California’s Law Against Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

This law prohibits being under the influence of a detectable amount of substances while driving, including meth. This law only applies to the driving while under the influence part of your crimes. You could still be charged with operating a math lab as well.

This offense only charges you with up to one year in jail or drug diversion (unless you were operating a lab).

4.4. Health and Safety Code 11383.5 HS California’s Law Against Possessing Materials for Manufacturing Methamphetamine

It is also a crime to possess materials for making meth such as certain chemicals. Though preparing to create meth isn’t technically a crime, gathering the materials to do so is. Potential punishment is two to six years in jail.

If you find yourself facing a charge similar to operating a meth lab, you can contact H Law Group for more information or visit our website (https://www.thehfirm.com/).