Federal Crime of Drug Manufacturing – 21 U.S.C. § 841

Federal laws prohibiting drug manufacturing are described under 21 U.S.C. § 841 and covers many aspects of the illegal drug trade practice. It’s a federal drug offense to knowingly or intentionally manufacture unlawful controlled substances and a conviction in federal court carries severe legal consequences.

Drug manufacturing under 21 U.S.C. § 841 occurs when someone, or a group of people, produce or make an attempt to produce, a controlled substance, such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, or LSD.

Obviously, manufacturing illegal drugs is a crime in every state under state laws. In order to make drug manufacturing drug federal offense, there are specific factors that must occur. These factors include the amount of manufactured drugs, where manufacturing occurred, and whether the manufacturing has any connection to a large illegal drug operation.

It should be noted the penalties for federal drug manufacturing carries are significantly higher than a conviction for drug manufacturing in a state criminal court.

Federal drug manufacturing charges under 21 U.S.C. § 841 can be filed against anyone who participates in the drug production process. This includes anyone providing chemicals or equipment that is used in manufacturing illegal drugs or controlled substances. It also includes anyone who manages the drug manufacturing facility and anyone who agrees to assist in the manufacturing process.

To give readers a better understanding of drug manufacturing laws, our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Prosecuting 21 U.S.C. § 841 Federal Drug Manufacturing Cases

For many decades, federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has taken an aggressive approach to investigating and prosecuting major federal drug crimes, such as 21 U.S.C. § 841 drug manufacturing.

As stated above, if you were arrested for drug manufacturing in California, you could be facing charges under state or federal laws. 21 U.S.C. § 841 prohibits the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances.

State-level drug crimes are prosecuted by a district attorney. A United States Attorney will prosecute federal offenses, such as drug manufacturing. In order to be convicted of violating U.S.C. § 841 federal drug manufacturing laws, the federal prosecutor has to be able to prove all the elements of the crime, beyond any reasonable doubt:

  • You manufactured, distributed, or dispensed a controlled substance, or
  • You possessed with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance, or
  • You created, distributed, or dispensed a counterfeit substance; or possessed with intent, and
  • You did any of the above acts knowingly or intentionally.

It should be noted that “knowingly or intentionally” is referring to your state of mind when you acted. In other words, under federal law, you must have known you were manufacturing a controlled, or counterfeit, or had a specific intent to do so. In some cases, federal drug conspiracy charges could be filed if there was some type of partnership to commit crimes.

The opioid and prescription drug fraud crisis across the United States has led federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on the sale and distribution of prescription drugs.

Penalties for 21 U.S.C. § 841 Federal Drug Manufacturing

A stated, a federal manufacturing conviction will carry a more severe sentence than a conviction in a state court. However, a federal drug manufacturing conviction will depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the type and quantity of controlled substance and whether there were any weapons involved.

A federal conviction for 21 U.S.C. § 841 manufacturing a controlled substance carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison.

However, if found guilty of manufacturing controlled substances in the following quantities listed below, you can be facing a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison, and a fine up to $5 million, as an individual, or up to $25 million, as a group or organization:

Heroin – 100 grams or more
Cocaine – 500 grams or more
Cocaine base – 28 grams or more
Methamphetamine – 5 grams or more
Marijuana – 100 kilograms or more, or 100 plants
Phencyclidine (PCP) – 10 grams or more
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – 1 gram or more

It should be noted there are situations where the penalties for a 21 U.S.C. § 841 federal drug manufacturing conviction can be increased. For example, if somebody dies as a result from using these controlled substances, your sentence could be increased to life in federal prison.

If convicted of manufacturing excessive quantities of controlled substances, you could be facing a sentencing enhancement of an additional 10 years or life in federal prison, and a fine up to $10 million for an individual, or up to $50 million for a group or organization.

Fighting 21 U.S.C. § 841 Federal Drug Manufacturing Charges

If you have been accused of federal drug manufacturing, you need to understand federal prosecutors have almost unlimited resources and will normally aggressively pursue a conviction. Also, federal convictions don’t carry parole and you will be required to serve the vast majority of the prison sentence.

Our federal criminal defense lawyers need to closely examine all the details of your case in order to determine an appropriate strategy for best possible outcome on the case. By retaining an experienced attorney who knows how to negotiate and defend federal drug manufacturing cases, you are increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.

Common defenses against 21 U.S.C. § 841 federal drug manufacturing charges include:

You didn’t know the drug was a controlled substance

Recall that knowledge and intent are the primary elements of the crime in a federal drug manufacturing case. We might be able to make an argument you thought you were just an employee in a drug manufacturing facility but believed the drugs were being manufactured for legal distribution.

Law Enforcement Misconduct

We might be able to make an argument to the federal prosecutor that federal agents acted improperly during the investigation or arrest. Perhaps the controlled substances were seized without a search warrant. If so, then the evidence can’t be used against you and the case could be dismissed.

Other potential defenses include you didn’t manufacture enough of a controlled substance to be charged with a federal offense, and that you are the victim of entrapment by law enforcement officers. Also, we might be able to argue the controlled substance were obtained during an illegal search or that you were falsely accused of drug manufacturing.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm that represents clients nationwide in all type of federal crimes. We are located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We also have an office located in the San Fernando Valley area of LA County at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (877) 781-1570.