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Operating a Meth Lab

Operating a meth lab in Florida is punished harshly, even if the police only turn up small amounts of meth. Additional punishments apply if children are present. If a meth lab is present on your property, you may face criminal charges and seizure of the property without compensation even if you are not actively involved in running the meth lab.

Tallahassee Meth Lab Defense Lawyer

Hiring an experienced drug charge defense attorney in Tallahassee is very important if you have been accused of operating a meth lab in Florida. The attorneys at the Pumphrey Law have knowledge of Florida’s laws covering manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, and have successfully defended clients facing drug manufacturing and distribution charges.

Don Pumphrey and the firm have years of experience representing those charged with Florida misdemeanor, Florida felony, and even federal drug offenses. They are devoted to protecting the rights of clients, and they will fight to get the best possible outcome in your case.

Pumphrey Law represents people accused of operating a meth lab in Tallahassee, Midway, Bristol, Monticello, Quincy and nearby areas. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your defense options during an open and free consultation with our legal team.

Info on Meth Law Charges

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Methamphetamine Manufacture and Distribution in Florida

Fla. Stat. § 893.135 defines “trafficking in amphetamine” as manufacturing, selling, or otherwise distributing 14 grams (half an ounce) or more of meth or meth ingredients. As a first degree felony, a conviction can result in up to 30 years in prison.

Mandatory minimum sentencing applies to convictions for operating a meth lab and is based on the amount of meth found by law enforcement.

If the amount found is between 14 and 28 grams (a half ounce to an ounce), the mandatory minimum penalties are:

  • Three-year prison sentence
  • $50,000 fine

If the amount found is 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams (1-7 ounces), the mandatory minimum penalties are:

  • Seven-year prison sentence
  • $100,000 fine

If the amount found is over 200 grams (7 ounces), the mandatory minimum penalties are:

  • 15 years in prison
  • $250,000 in fines

If the amount found is under 14 grams (half an ounce), you may be charged under Fla. Stat. § 893.13 which bans the sale, manufacture, delivery; or possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver drugs such as methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is listed as a “controlled substance” in Fla. Stat. § 893.03(2)(c)4. Manufacture or distribution of any amount, or possession with intent to distribute, can result in a conviction of a second-degree felony under Fla. Stat § 893.13(1)(a)1. If convicted of methamphetamine distribution as a second-degree felony you face:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • $10,000 in fines

You may also face other related charges, including federal drug charges, along with the seizure of property or other assets by the government.

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Operating a Meth Lab in a Drug-Free Zone in Florida

Even if the amount of meth found by police is very low, you can face enhanced penalties depending on the location of the meth lab, or any other activity related to the distribution of meth. You face a first-degree felony charge if the meth lab or related activity is located within 1,000 feet of a:

  • School during 6 AM-midnight
  • Public park
  • Public housing facility
  • Assisted living facility
  • Community center
  • College or university
  • Church or similar place where religious services regularly take place

If you are convicted of operating a meth lab within 1,000 feet of one of these places, you face:

  • Up to 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of three years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Operating a meth lab near a child care facility during the hours of 6 AM-midnight is also a first-degree felony, if a sign of two square feet or larger is posted in a conspicuous place reasonably visible to the public identifying it as a licensed child care facility. However, the mandatory minimum of three years in prison does not apply in this situation.

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Operating a Meth Lab Near Children

Fla. Stat. § 893.135(1)(g) provides enhanced penalties to anyone who operates a meth lab or stores meth ingredients in a building or vehicle where a child under age 16 is present. If convicted of operating a meth lab where a child under age 16 is present, you face:

  • Mandatory minimum of five years, and possibly up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

If a court determines that a child under the age of 16 suffered great bodily harm as a result of the meth lab operation, the mandatory minimum increases to ten years in prison. Evidence used to support this charge can include documentation of:

  • Risk of explosion or fire
  • Children’s access to volatile or toxic chemicals
  • Dangerous chemical combinations or improper storage of chemicals
  • Lack of good ventilation
  • Access to the meth lab
  • Access to hazardous waste
  • Presence of chemicals in the child’s body or on the child’s things
  • Lack of safety equipment such as smoke alarms

You may also face enhanced penalties for delivering methamphetamine to anyone under age 18, or using or hiring a person under age 18 to help you sell or deliver methamphetamine or avoid detection. This is a first-degree felony under Fla. Stat. § 893.13(4)(b). This factor also makes you ineligible for probation or a suspended or deferred sentence. As a first degree felony, a conviction can result in:

  • Up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

You may also be accused of endangering, neglecting, or abusing children in certain situations, and face additional charges as a result. Evidence used to support such charges can include:

  • Dealing meth or other drugs out of a house when children are present
  • Showing up at a meth sale or other “drug deal” with children in the vehicle
  • Holding a child when dealing meth or other drugs
  • Storing meth or other drugs in a stroller or child’s things
  • Smoking meth when children are present
  • Food or drink contaminated with drugs/chemicals associated with a meth lab
  • Access to weapons, drugs, residue, etc.
  • Children provided with meth or other drugs
  • Children testing positive for meth or other drugs
  • Children helping to sell or manufacture meth or other drugs or acting as lookouts
  • Presence of meth users, dealers, cooks, or convicted criminals
  • Presences of pipes, razor blades, residue, hypodermic needles, weapons, booby traps

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Meth Labs On Your Property

If you allow a meth lab to be operated on your property, you face stiff penalties even if you are not actively involved in operating the meth lab. You may be charged under Fla. Stat. § 893.13(7)(a)5, which makes it illegal to keep or maintain any building, vehicle, or other property which is used as a meth lab. A first-time offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, and conviction will result in:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

If you have a prior conviction for violating this particular law, future convictions will be a third-degree felony and result in:

  • Up to a five years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

The property may also be seized by the government through a process called civil asset forfeiture, even if nobody is convicted or even charged with operating a meth lab. It is much easier for the government to obtain a civil asset forfeiture than it is to obtain a criminal conviction, because the government does not need to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a civil asset forfeiture.

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Defenses to Methamphetamine Distribution Charges

Depending on the circumstances, some defenses are available to you. The police may have mishandled evidence, or the amount of meth you are accused of having may be wrong.

You may be able to prevent evidence from being admitted against you if it was obtained without a search warrant. However, since meth labs are viewed as inherently dangerous and a threat to public safety, this defense is less likely to work when dealing with meth labs than in other drug cases. It is likely that law enforcement entry without a warrant will be considered justified due to the threat to public safety posed by meth labs.

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Finding A Methamphetamine Distribution Attorney in Leon County, Florida

If you have been accused of operating a meth lab in Leon County, contact the Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular situation. There may be defenses to the charges you face, and finding an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee who is familiar with Florida drug laws is your best option to avoid severe punishment. The attorneys at the Pumphrey Law will aggressively fight for your defense, and may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed entirely. Call us at (850) 681-7777 for your free consultation today.

This article was last updated on October 22, 2016.

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