Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Manufacturing a controlled substance (illegal narcotic) without a manufacturing license is a major crime in California. A controlled substance (CS) is a drug that is controlled and regulated by the government, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, Codeine, Fentanyl, Soma, etc. Controlled substances also include non-pharmaceuticals (street drugs), such as cocaine, meth, PCP, heroin, crack, MDMA (Molly), concentrated cannabis, etc.
The two most common criminal charges associated with manufacturing controlled substances are found at California Health & Safety Code sections 11366.5 (manage a place to manufacture CS) and 11379.6(a) (manufacture CS). This article primarily deals with the latter: HS 11379.6(a) (manufacture CS). For information on HS 11366.5(a), contact our criminal defense lawyers.
HS 11379.6(a) Law:
HS 11379.6(a) … every person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance … guilty of manufacturing a CS (HS 11379.6(a) Abbrev.).
Note: In order for the defendant to be found guilty of HS 11379.6(a), the district attorney does not need to prove that the defendant knew what controlled substance was being produced or manufactured; the district attorney only needs to prove that the defendant knew she was manufacturing some type of controlled substance.
Additionally, the district attorney does not need to prove that the controlled substance was successfully manufactured. It is a crime even if the defendant has not completed the manufacturing process, so long as the manufacturing process has gone beyond mere preparation. The term mere preparation is determined on a case-by-case basis.
HS 11379.6(a) Penalties.
Jail Sentence: HS 11379.6(a) is classified as a felony. If found guilty of manufacturing a controlled substance the defendant could face up to 3, 5, or 7 years in the county jail. Whether or not the defendant is sentenced to the low term (3 years), the mid-term (5 years), or the aggravated term (7 years) after an HS 11379.6(a) conviction depends largely on the defendant’s criminal history, if any, and the egregiousness of the facts of the case.
Note: When controlled substances are manufactured within a residence, or when a minor is present, the court is more likely to impose the aggravated jail sentence of 7 years. In addition, when the CS produced is in large quantities, the district attorney may add penalty enhancements that could significantly extend the defendant’s jail sentence exposure.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of jail. A probation sentence is allowed in HS 11379.6(a) cases, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed. Whether or not the court grants a probation sentence in lieu of a jail sentence after a conviction for HS 11379.6(a) depends on the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and the terms, if any, of a negotiated plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney.
Probation in HS 11379.6(a) cases is considered formal. This means that the defendant is monitored by a probation officer during the probation term. In addition, sometimes the court will impose a jail term as a condition of probation; however, when the court imposes a jail sentence as a condition of probation (as opposed to a direct sentence to jail), the defendant may usually serve that jail sentence alternatively on work release or house arrest.
PC 1170(h) Sentencing: The crime of manufacturing a controlled substance is subject to California’s new felony sentencing law. This means that a defendant found guilty of HS 11379.6(a) could have her jail sentence split (served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a term of her probation). In addition, under PC 1170(h) sentencing, a defendant convicted of HS 11379.6(a) will serve her jail sentence in a local county jail as opposed to a state prison (See Jail v. Prison for similarities and differences).
Strike Offense: The crime of manufacturing a CS is not considered a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. As such, the defendant is entitled to earn up fifty percent (50%) off her jail sentence if she conducts herself with good behavior while in jail.
CIMT: The crime of manufacturing a controlled substance is considered a crime involving moral turpitude. A crime involving moral turpitude is a crime that involves dishonestly or is otherwise considered morally wrong. Criminal convictions of CIMT can lead to collateral consequences for the defendant, including the loss or suspension of a professional license (teacher, nurse, lawyer, etc.), the loss of the right to remain in, or reenter, the United States (immigration concerns), the loss of the opportunity to enter into the armed services (Navy, Army, Space Force, etc.), the loss of the right to own or possess firearms, and more (For more information, see CIMT).
Other penalties: In addition to the penalties already listed, if found guilty of HS 11379.6(a), the defendant could suffer any of these additional punishments: fines and court fees, restraining orders (CPO), loss of employment, civil lawsuits against lessees, restitution for damage to property, and more.
HS 11379.6(a) Defenses
Every HS 11379.6(a) case has slightly different facts; therefore, there is not one perfect defense that fits all HS 11379.6(a) cases. With that said, there are several defenses common to a criminal charge of manufacturing a controlled substance, including: coerced confessions, illegal search and seizure (police misconduct), alibi, mistake of fact, insufficient evidence, and more.
Note: If the defendant did not know that she was producing or manufacturing a CS substance then she is not guilty of HS 11379.6(a). Proof of the defendant’s knowledge as to what she intended to manufacture is gathered from the circumstances of the case.
For more information on the crime of manufacturing a controlled substance, or HS 11379.6(a), contact our drug crimes defense lawyers. Our criminal defense lawyers have handled hundreds of drug-related crimes in every San Bernardino County court. We offer free consultations and weekend appointments. Call today!