Manufacturing Drugs or Narcotics


Drug crimes can be disruptive and costly but being convicted on the charge or charges of manufacturing drugs in Southern California can be a particularly terrifying experience. Law enforcements agencies and court authorities are already very aggressive in pursuing non-violent charges of drug possession.

That means when authorities feel they have a strong case they are more likely to pursue harsh penalties for offenders in Southern California—offenders convicted of such charges can face up to seven years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. Indeed, that’s only if the manufacturing charge is relatively simple and unrelated to federal charges or supplementary criminal accusations such as racketeering, gang-related activity, or a violent act.

Consulting with a qualified, uncompromising attorney who knows the legal landscape of Southern California and can mount a smart legal defense against the charge of manufacturing drugs or narcotics is a key first step after charges have been filed.

Manufacturing Defined

California’s Health and Safety Code 11379.6 makes it a felony offense to manufacture, convert, produce, obtain, process or prepare a controlled substance by chemical extraction or chemical synthesis—a common example would be operating a methamphetamine production facility (meth lab). There are limited exceptions for medical cannabis used for therapeutic effects in Southern California. But overall, in a criminal law setting, “manufacturing” occurs when an accused individual is involved in any step of the production of illegal drugs. Even those who sell certain required chemicals, specialized equipment or simply offer to help with manufacturing drugs or narcotics can be charged with the crime.

Manufacturing drugs or narcotics is an offense almost always charged as a felony. Penalties can include extensive prison time, steep fines, and long probationary sentences. Prison sentences and fines may be augmented significantly for those convicted of manufacturing drugs or narcotics near schools and playgrounds in Southern California.

Manufacturing Drugs or Narcotics: Fundamentals of the Case

In prosecuting individuals or groups in Southern California for manufacturing (or intending to manufacture) drugs or narcotics, prosecutors must typically prove both possession and the more difficult element, which is an intent to manufacture. For example, anyone who has ever watched Breaking Bad knows that the popular cold medication pseudoephedrine can be used to make methamphetamine. If police were to find a box of the substance in an individual’s care, it’s probably not enough to prosecute for a manufacturing charge. But if the officer also found laboratory equipment commonly used to manufacture drugs or narcotics, it could establish probable case needed for an arrest and eventually lead to a conviction if left unchallenged.

Defending Charges of Manufacturing Drugs or Narcotics

Make no mistake: defending an individual against a well-investigated, well-planned prosecution for manufacturing drugs or narcotics can be challenging for even the most experienced drug attorney. While some of the same tactics used in mounting a defense to a drug possession charge may apply when defending on the manufacturing of drugs or narcotics, there are also specialized legal maneuvers that can be applied when defending such cases. These may include:

  • Challenging the state’s identification of the person who delivered drugs, narcotics, equipment, or money.
  • Challenging the credibility of confidential informants, especially in cases where a sting operation may have purposefully or inadvertently led to entrapment.
  • Challenging the legality of police searches in case law enforcement authorities violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Mitigating Penalties for Manufacturing Drugs or Narcotics

In situations where prosecutors and law enforcement authorities have a well-researched, logical case for prosecution, a knowledgeable drug attorney may look for ways to mitigate the punishment. For example, someone who is charged with manufacturing drugs or narcotics who can demonstrate that the production was for personal use only could face a lesser penalty. Other factors, like the absence of a child, may also lead to a lower sentence.

A defendant charged with possessing certain chemicals or equipment needed for manufacturing a controlled substance usually looks for ways to disprove or dismiss the intent to produce drugs. As we’ve seen with marijuana grow equipment, ingredients that can be used in the production of a controlled substance may have other applications. If a defendant can demonstrate that the substances was not purchased or possessed with the intention of making narcotics, a judge or jury could potentially find the defendant not guilty of a manufacturing charge. Only a qualified San Diego drug attorney can evaluate your specific case and help you navigate the complex ecosystem of the Southern California legal system.


Attempting to mount your own defense if you have been charged with manufacturing drugs or narcotics in Southern California is an almost insurmountable task. There are too many unknown factors, not only with the specifics of the California penal code but also in knowing what actions are allowable by prosecutors and law enforcement authorities. If you’ve been charged with the manufacture of drugs or narcotics in Southern California, seeking out an experienced drug crimes attorney should be your first step in mounting a defense.

Each case involving the manufacture of drugs or narcotics is unique, and a highly-experienced San Diego drug attorney can review the facts and evidence in your situation, hear your side of the story, and discuss whether any of these defenses might serve your interests. Jessica McElfresh is an experienced San Diego drug lawyer who has represented numerous clients accused of manufacturing drugs or narcotics in the area, and she can make sure your rights under California and San Diego laws are protected. Call (858) 756-7107 today for a free consultation to learn how to get started.