Meth Labs and Illegal Drug Manufacturing: California Health and Safety Code Sections 11379.6 and 11366.5
California law has many ways to punish you if you are involved in the trade of illegal drugs, narcotics, and other controlled substances. One of the key law enforcement strategies is to halt the production of drugs such as meth or PCP by targeting secret drug labs and the people who operate or work in them.
To that end, the following are two laws that affect the manufacturing of illicit substances: Health and Safety Code section 11379.6, which governs the production of the drugs; and section 11366.5, which governs the use of a building for the purpose of producing drugs.
California Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6: Illegal Drug Manufacturing
Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6 states:
Except as otherwise provided by law, 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 specified in Section 11054, 11055, 11056, 11057, or 11058 shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for three, five, or seven years and by a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).1
This code section makes it a crime to directly manufacture any drug that is on the schedule of controlled substances, or to indirectly manufacture those drugs by mixing any chemical precursor that could be used to make the illegal drugs.
Notice that the statute starts with the words, “Except as otherwise provided by law.” This means that there are some legitimate drug production processes that California will allow. However, very few categories of people are exempt from this law, such as pharmacists or people who work for pharmaceutical companies, who are subject to different regulations to prevent them from stepping over the line into illegal drug production.
California Health and Safety Code Section 11366.5: Maintaining a Residence or Structure for Drug Manufacturing
Health and Safety Code 11366.5 states:
Any person who has under his or her management or control any building, room, space, or enclosure, either as an owner, lessee, agent, employee, or mortgagee, who knowingly rents, leases, or makes available for use, with or without compensation, the building, room, space, or enclosure for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, storing, or distributing any controlled substance for sale or distribution shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 364 days, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code. 2
Essentially, if you have any kind of residence, building, or other structure over which you have control – as the owner, tenant, or possessor – and you are knowingly allowing someone to use that space to produce, store or distribute any unlawful drug, you can be convicted of violating 11366.5.
Related Crimes to Health and Safety Code Sections 11379.6 and 11366.5
If you have been charged with violating either Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 or section 11366.5, you are likely also facing a number of other related drug charges. Some of these might include:
- Possession of a controlled substance (Health and Safety Code Section 11350)
- Possession of a controlled substance for sale (Health and Safety Code Section 11351)
- Transportation or sale of a controlled substance (Health and Safety Code Section 11352)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (Health and Safety Code Section 11364)
- Possession of methamphetamine (Health and Safety Code Section 11377)
- Person under the influence of a controlled substance (Health and Safety Code Section 11550)
- Conspiracy (Penal Code section 182)
Prosecution for Violations of Health and Safety Code Sections 11379.6 and 11366.5
In order for the court to find that you are guilty under Health and Safety Code section 11379.6, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
You manufactured, compounded, converted, produced, derived, processed, or prepared a controlled substance using chemical extraction or independent chemical synthesis; AND
- You knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance. 3
For prosecutions under Health and Safety Code section 11366.5, the prosecutor must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You had management or control over a building, room, space, enclosure
- You rented, leased, or made the space available to someone else
- When you did so, you knew the purpose was to use it for the manufacturing, storage, or distribution of a controlled substance; AND
- The controlled substance was to be sold or distributed.
Penalties for Violations of Health and Safety Code Sections 11379.6 and 11366.5
Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6
Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 is a felony. If convicted, you face:
- Three, five, or seven years in state prison; and/or
- A maximum fine of $50,000.
In addition, there are a number of ways that your sentence under this section can be enhanced. These include:
- Production of large quantities of drugs (up to 15 additional years for quantities over 105 gallons of liquid substances or 44 lbs of solid substances);
- Causing death or injury (one additional year per death or injury);
- Producing the drugs in the presence of persons younger than 16 years of age (up to five additional years); and
- Having prior convictions for drug-related crimes (three additional years for each prior conviction, regardless of whether you were sent to prison).
Health and Safety Code Section 11366.5
Health and Safety Code section 11366.5 is a “wobbler,” which means it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, you could face 364 days in county jail. However, as a felony, the punishment is 16 months, or two or three years in county jail.
Possible Defenses Against Charges for Violating Health and Safety Code Sections 11379.6 and 11366.5
You did not participate in or have knowledge of the drugs being manufactured.
Many people who face charges under Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 are the victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Suppose you rent the guesthouse in the backyard of a retired chemistry teacher. Under the terms of your lease, you do not have access to the garage, which is locked at all times. Unbeknownst to you, the owner has secretly excavated the ground beneath the garage to create space for a laboratory that produces methamphetamine. Acting on a search warrant, police storm the house and the backyard, where you have been quietly studying for your college finals. The police find the hatch in the garage leading to the secret lab, and arrest you and the owner under Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 for manufacturing drugs
However, because you were not aware of the presence of the controlled substances beneath the garage, and because you never participated in the production of the meth, you should not be convicted of this crime.
Your Legal Rights Were Violated
In many drug cases our experienced criminal drug defense lawyers can make a successful motion to suppress the evidence that was found by law enforcement during a search.
This motion is made pursuant to Penal Code Section. Motions to have the evidence “suppressed” can result in all charges being dismissed against you, no matter what type of unlawful drugs the police may have found. In every drug case it is critical that you consult with Wallin and Klarich so we can determine whether there are legal grounds to challenge the search conducted by the police that lead to your arrest.
You had no knowledge or reason to know of your tenant’s activities
Health and Safety Code section 11366.5 has a knowledge requirement, which can be very difficult for the prosecution to prove. If you had no reason to suspect that the person you allowed to rent your property was producing, storing, or distributing drugs in the property, and you had no actual knowledge of that fact, you should not be found guilty of this crime.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Meth Labs and Illegal Drug Manufacturing
At Wallin & Klarich, we frequently receive questions from those facing illegal drug manufacturing charges. These include:
1. Can I be prosecuted for violating Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 if I began the process of manufacturing the drugs but never produced a finished product?
Yes. The law is aimed at stopping the illegal manufacture of drugs no matter what stage of the manufacturing process that law enforcement discovers the activities. In fact, you can be prosecuted for simply preparing legal chemical substances if you knew that they were to be used in the production of another substance that is controlled. 4
2. What if I didn’t know which controlled substance was involved?
You may still be found guilty even if you were not able to identify the controlled substance that you were preparing. All that the prosecutor needs to prove is that you knew that it was a controlled substance, regardless of whether you knew what the chemicals were, or what drugs could be produced from them. 5
3. Under Health and Safety Code section 11366.5, does it matter that I did not receive payment for the space I am accused of providing for a drug lab?
No. The law specifically states that it applies to persons who made the space available “with or without compensation” and it applies whether or not you participated in any other way in the manufacture, storage, or distribution of the controlled substance in the space you provided. Remember, the purpose of the law is to prevent people from using their homes, buildings, or other structures as illegal drug labs.
Contact Wallin & Klarich If You Have Been Charged with Illegal Drug Manufacturing
If you are facing charges that you created illegal drugs, or that you allowed someone to do so in a building you control, you have an important decision to make. You can try to face the charges alone, or you can hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can give you a better chance of winning your case. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully defending people like you who have been accused of illegal drug manufacturing-related crimes. Let us help you, too. We are committed to providing you with the personal attention you deserve, and to helping you overcome this difficult situation.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in California criminal defense near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 11379.6(a).]↩
2. [Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 11366.5(a)]↩
3. [CALCRIM No. 2330, Manufacturing a Controlled Substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379.6(a) & (b)).]↩
4. [See, CALCRIM No. 2330]↩