Law enforcement and government officials have taken an increasingly stern approach to crimes related to methamphetamine and its abuse in recent years. Meth became a popular street drug within the last couple of decades because it was fairly easy to produce, but in terms of its long-term effect on the human body, meth is one of the most dangerous drugs on the street.
Governments saw their correctional institution budgets take a hit because of the sheer cost of providing health care to people in jails and prisons who had been addicted to meth. Additionally, abuse of the drug tends to be connected to other serious crimes such as robberies and burglaries. All of this added up to lawmakers and police agencies working to crack down on meth production in the United States to try to shut down labs and prevent the drug from getting into the hands of users.
If you’ve been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, you face some very serious consequences if you’re convicted. In Ohio, manufacturing meth is a serious felony crime, with a mandatory prison term of at least 3 years for a first conviction. Penalties increase when the crime is committed in the vicinity of a juvenile, or when you’re convicted of a second offense. You may have to pay $15,000 to $20,000 in fines, and could lose your home if it was used for meth manufacturing.
However, an experienced Columbus methamphetamine manufacturing lawyer may be able to help. Depending on the facts of your case, options may be available to combat the charge in court and get it dismissed, or get your charge reduced to one with less severe consequences.
Defining the Offense
Ohio Rev. Code 2925.04 makes it a crime to “knowingly manufacture or otherwise engage in any part of the production of a controlled substance.” Methamphetamine falls under the definition of a controlled substance as a Schedule II stimulant.
Methamphetamine is a drug that originally had a medical use as a decongestant and weight loss drug. However, these days legitimate prescriptions for methamphetamine are very rare, and nearly all methamphetamine used by Americans is illicit. The most common form seen on the street is known as crystal meth because of its crystalline form. People smoke meth in pipes, inject it, snort it, or swallow it. The drug acts on the nervous system to create a sense of euphoria. It also may cause weight loss. Meth is highly addictive and abuse results in many harmful effects to the body and brain.
Street meth is produced using fairly common chemicals in illicit labs that can be set up in someone’s home or in a trailer. Production is relatively easy, but also dangerous because it involves chemicals that create toxic vapors and are flammable. A lot of people end up charged with manufacturing meth because their labs catch on fire. State and federal government have worked to make it harder to get some of the chemicals, but meth labs are still relatively common.
Manufacturing Meth Penalties
Manufacturing methamphetamine is a second-degree felony in Ohio. The standard sentencing range for a felony of that degree is 2 to 8 years in prison. However, Ohio Rev. Code 2925.04 defines specific penalties with regard to manufacturing meth, and requires a court to impose a mandatory prison term for a conviction as follows:
- A minimum 3-year prison term for a first conviction
- A minimum 5-year prison term if you have a previous conviction for drug manufacturing or marijuana cultivation; child endangering by letting a child be near drug manufacturing; or illegal possession or assembly of chemicals for manufacturing Schedule I or II drugs
A conviction for meth manufacturing also requires a court to impose a mandatory fine unless you’re indigent. The maximum fine for a second-degree felony is $15,000.
Further, the court is may suspend your driver’s license when you’re convicted.
The penalties are even stiffer when you commit the offense in the vicinity of a school or juvenile. Under those circumstances, manufacturing meth becomes a first-degree felony subject to at least a 4-year mandatory prison term for a first offense, and at least 5 years for a second or subsequent offense, as well as the possibility that you’ll be labeled a major drug offender. The maximum sentence for a first-degree felony is 11 years in prison. The fine is up to $20,000.
Other Effects of Conviction
When you’re convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, your life is never the same afterward. Even after you’ve served your prison time, paid your fines, and get your driver’s license back, you’ll have a permanent criminal record that contains a felony drug conviction. The conviction is likely to haunt you for the rest of your life, and present a barrier to getting a good job, pursuing a college degree, or even renting a decent apartment.
If you had a meth lab set up in your home, the state may seize your home or other property connected to your drug activities. If there were children present, you may find yourself facing an additional charge of child endangering and lose custody of your children.
If you have a professional license such as a law license, medical license, or pharmacy license, the court is required to notify the board overseeing your license that you’ve been convicted of a felony drug offense. In all likelihood, the board will suspend or revoke your license once they find out about your conviction.
If you’re not an American citizen, you probably won’t be able to get an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship once you have a felony drug conviction. You may be deported to your home country.
Defenses for Methamphetamine Manufacturing
To convict you of drug manufacturing under ORC 2925.04, a prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- A controlled substance
Each of these points has to be proven to get a conviction. Additionally, for the meth manufacturing penalties to apply, the prosecutor must prove that the substance you allegedly were making was meth.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will look at ways to attack each of these elements the prosecutor must prove.
You may have options for fighting your charge if you:
- Weren’t involved in the manufacturing
- Didn’t know the substance was methamphetamine/a controlled substance
- The substance was not methamphetamine/a controlled substance
If your defense relies on the substance not being meth, depending on the circumstances you still could be charged or convicted of making counterfeit drugs. However, the penalties for that offense are less severe than those for manufacturing meth.
Other common defenses to drug charges may involve attacking the way the police went about getting evidence, conducting searches, or arresting you.
Those might include:
- The police didn’t have probable cause to search you or your property
- The police didn’t have probable cause to arrest you
- The police didn’t administer your Miranda rights warning or did it wrong
- The police used illegal surveillance or wiretapping to get evidence against you and the evidence shouldn’t be admitted into court
- The police violated your constitutional rights when getting evidence against you and the evidence shouldn’t be admitted into court
- The police used drug-sniffing dogs to get evidence against you
Illegal Possession of Chemicals
“Illegal possession of chemicals” refers to a law, passed in 2002, that prohibits the production of drugs or possession of chemicals that are used to produce drugs.
Specifically, this law was passed to target the manufacture of methamphetamine, so penalties for that drug are harsher than for others. It can be used against any drug listed under controlled substances.
Learn How a Columbus Methamphetamine Manufacturing Lawyer Can Help You
If you’ve been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced Columbus drug attorney to fight for you in court, please contact us at (614) 500-3836 or via email at [email protected].
For over a decade, the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at LHA have successfully represented clients on criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.