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What Are The Penalties For Operating Or Maintaining A Controlled Substance Laboratory In Michigan?

 

Michigan has very tough laws when it comes to manufacturing, delivering, possessing or using controlled substances without legal authority.  The penalties for operating or maintaining a controlled substance laboratory for the purpose of creating these dangerous drugs are even more severe.  Any person convicted of these serious offenses can expect to spend a substantial length of time in state prison.

MCL 333.7401c(1) states that a person shall not do ANY of the following:

  • Own, possess, or use a vehicle, building, structure, place, or area that he or she knows or has reason to know is to be used as a location to manufacture a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance (e.g. heroin, fentanyl), a counterfeit substance or a controlled substance analogue. MCL 333.7401c(1)(a).  “Manufacture” means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance, directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis.  MCL 333.7401c(7)(c).  Manufacturing does not mean “the packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling or relabeling of its container.”  MCL 333.7401c(7)(c)(i).  Manufacturing does not include those practitioners licensed under federal and state law to administer or dispense controlled substances in a professional practice.  MCL 333.7401c(7)(c)(ii).
  • Own or possess any chemical or any laboratory equipment that he or she knows or has reason to know is to be used for the purpose of manufacturing a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance (e.g. heroin, fentanyl), a counterfeit substance or a controlled substance analogue. MCL 333.7401c(1)(b).  “Laboratory equipment” means any equipment, device, or container used or intended to be used in the process of manufacturing a controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or controlled substance analogue.  MCL 333.7401c(7)(b).
  • Provide any chemical or laboratory equipment to another person knowing or having reason to know that the other person intends to use that chemical or laboratory equipment for the purpose of manufacturing a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance (e.g. heroin, fentanyl), a counterfeit substance or a controlled substance analogue. MCL 333.7401c(1)(c).

A person who operates or maintains a controlled substance laboratory contrary to MCL 333.7401c(1) is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $100,000.00 or up to 10 years in state prison, or both.  MCL 333.7401c(2)(a).  In addition, the offender’s operators license will be suspended for six months (but suspended for one year if the individual has any prior controlled substance convictions within seven years of the violation). MCL 333.7408a(1).  Additional penalties apply under any of the following circumstances:

  • If the violation is committed in the presence of a minor, the penalty is a fine up to $100,000.00 or up to 20 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401c(2)(b).  “Minor” means an individual less than 18 years of age.  MCL 333.7401c(7)(d).
  • If the violation involves the unlawful generation, treatment, storage, or disposal of a hazardous waste, the penalty is a fine up to $100,000.00 or up to 20 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401c(2)(c).  The court may, as a condition of sentence, order a person convicted of this violation to pay response activity costs for dealing with the hazardous waste.  MCL 333.7401c(6).
  • If the violation occurs within 500 feet of a residence, business establishment, school property, or church or other house of worship, the penalty is a fine up to $100,000.00 or up to 20 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401c(2)(d).
  • If the violation involves the possession, placement, or use of a firearm or any other device designed or intended to be used to injure another person, the penalty is a fine up to $100,000.00, or up to 25 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401c(2)(e).
  • If the violation involves or is intended to involve the manufacture of methamphetamine, contrary to MCL 333.7214(c)(ii), the penalty is a fine up to $25,000.00 or up to 20 years in state prison, or both. MCL 333.7401c(2)(f).

MCL 333.7401c(1) does not apply to violations involving only substances derived from coca leaves (e.g. cocaine) or marijuana, or both.  MCL 333.7401c(3).  In addition, a person convicted of maintaining or operating a controlled substance laboratory does not prevent that person from being charged with, convicted of, or punished for any other violation of law committed at the same time (e.g. delivery or possession of controlled substances).  MCL 333.7401c(4).  Finally, a term of imprisonment may be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed for a violation of law arising out of the same transaction.  MCL 333.7401c(5). 

If you or a loved one is charged with maintaining or operating a controlled substance laboratory, then you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer in your corner to aggressively defend your rights.  You may have defenses available to you that can defeat these serious charges:

  • NO OWNERSHIP OR POSSESSORY INTEREST IN LOCATION: If you did not own, lease, control or even visit the alleged laboratory, the prosecutor may not be able to prevail without proving this necessary element.
  • FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS: If the police entered the premises and seized evidence without a warrant and no valid exception under the Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements, then the court may suppress all of the controlled substances and laboratory equipment wrongfully taken and the prosecutor will not be able to admit such evidence in court.
  • LEGAL AUTHORITY TO MANUFACTURE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE: If the defendant can prove that he or she had the requisite legal authority under state or federal law to maintain a controlled substance laboratory, then this may be a total defense to all of the charges.

Even if the evidence against you is fairly strong, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution that avoids a conviction or license sanctions down the road (e.g. deferral under “7411” or Holmes Youthful Trainee Act). In addition, an attorney may be able to negotiate a sentence that includes a drug treatment program in lieu of immediate jail or prison.

Our law firm has extensive experience defending against serious controlled substances offenses in Michigan.  If you need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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