A person commits the offense of manufacture of a controlled substance per RSMo Section 579.055 if he or she
- Knowingly manufactures, produces, or grows a controlled substance or
- Attempts to manufacture, produce, or grow a controlled substance or
- Knowingly possesses a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, produce, or grow any amount of a controlled substance.
When large amounts of controlled substances are involved, trafficking 1st degree can be charged as that offense covers both production and sales. The offense of manufacture of a controlled substance is a
- Class E felony when it involves 35 grams or less of marijuana (note that the law has changed, see here)
- Class C felony when it involves any amount of a controlled substance other than 35 grams or less of marijuana
- Class B felony when committed within 2000 feet of a school or college
- Class A felony if any person suffers injury or death as a result of the defendant's attempt to manufacture methamphetamines.
Possession of Materials to Manufacture Methamphetamines
Missouri was once known as the epicenter of methamphetamine production. To fight the proliferation of small home-grown labs, the legislature passed several laws criminalizing the possession of normally legal substances used to make meth. Although production has moved almost entirely to Mexico or individual “shake and bake” operations, the laws remain on the books.
One of these laws is RSMo §579.055 Possession of Anhydrous Ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia is a fertilizer that, at one time, was an essential ingredient in meth production. Farmers were forced to employ elaborate security measures to prevent cookers from causing thousands of dollars of damage while stealing a couple of quarts of the chemical. Because the few remaining do-it-yourselfers are using the one-pot method, which doesn't require anhydrous, thefts are rare nowadays. Still, possession of any amount of anhydrous ammonia in a container not explicitly designed and marked for its use is a class E felony.
Possession of Methamphetamine Precursors RSMo §579.110 makes it a class E felony to knowingly possess one or more of the chemicals listed in §195.400, or any other chemicals proven to be methamphetamine precursors as established by expert testimony, with the intent to manufacture or test a controlled substance. This law is aimed at the possession of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and having more than 24 grams of either is considered proof of intent to violate this law, even if no intent to manufacture methamphetamines is shown.
How to Fight a Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance Charge
Manufacturing a controlled substance is a serious felony, especially if it occurred within 2000 feet of a school or if someone was hurt while making methamphetamines. The best way to fight it is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. It may seem like law enforcement has the upper hand in this situation, but a skilled lawyer will know how to counter their charges and protect your freedom.
One way a lawyer can fight a manufacturing charge is by challenging the search that produced the evidence. Case law about search and seizure is complex, to say the least, and law enforcement doesn't always get it right. Manufacturing charges are often the result of a search warrant, and a good lawyer will know to verify that all the information in the warrant is accurate, that it is based on probable cause, that the place searched and the items seized are accurately represented, and that the warrant was executed in a timely fashion after issuance. Warrants for drugs are also generally held to require an indication of when the drugs were seen at the place to be searched, and an experienced attorney will know to look for that.
One important word in the statute can be the key to fighting a manufacturing a controlled substance charge. That word is “knowingly.” The state must prove that you made a conscious effort to manufacture a controlled substance to get a conviction. Just being present at a location where manufacturing is occurring is not enough. This is best demonstrated by State v. Withrow 8 S.W. 3d 75. In that case, the defendant was sentenced to 18 years for the manufacture of a controlled substance but had his case overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court. The defendant was observed by a drug task force entering and leaving a house under surveillance 5 or 6 times over two days. When they executed a search warrant, the officers observed the defendant exiting a bedroom with his hands up. In the bedroom, they found drug paraphernalia, including anhydrous ammonia, pseudoephedrine, lithium batteries, and, in a locked closet, a jar with ingredients in the initial stage of methamphetamines production. The police assumed that the defendant's presence in the room was sufficient to indicate guilt and made no further attempts to tie him to the production through incriminating statements or any other evidence indicating his knowledge of the operation. The Missouri Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the defendant had made a substantial step toward the production of methamphetamines.
Attorney Ruth Beerup Can Fight Your Manufacturing Charge
Defending against a manufacture of a controlled substance charge can be difficult, and the stakes are high. An experienced defense attorney like Ruth Beerup can take that fight on for you. She knows how to study the details of a case to find the key to dismissal and how to negotiate a plea deal if a dismissal is not possible. You can't afford to trust your future to just anyone. Let Ruth protect your freedom.