Breaking Bad in Illinois – Meth Crimes
The Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act
Up until 2005, methamphetamine (and related substances) was enforced under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the increase in meth related crimes got the attention of our lawmakers. They noted that, unlike most drugs, meth can be made anywhere with chemicals readily available to the public, and with relative ease. They noted how extremely hazardous such chemistry is to the immediate environment where it is being made, the huge health hazard to the chemists themselves, their property, and those exposed to the environment. They also noted how very dangerous the drug itself is to the users, as the drug is highly addictive, and long term abuse literally destroys a person’s health; shortening and taking lives.
With those things in mind, the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act was enacted into law in 2005, and it removed most amphetamines and their precursors with certain exclusions still covered by the Controlled Substances Act (like MDMA) . They are now covered under the new Act. The delivery, or possession with intent to deliver, of methamphetamine carries the following penalties:
- Less than 5 grams—Class 2 felony
- 5 or more but less than 15 grams-Class 1 felony
- 15 or more but less than 100—Class X, 6-30 years, fine up to $100,000
- 100 or more but less than 400-Class X, 9-40 years, fine up to $200,000
- 400 or more but less than 900-Class X, 12-50 years, fine up to $300,000
- 900 grams or more—Class X, 15-60 years, fine up to $400,000
Note: the fine may also be in the amount determined by the court to be the “street value” of the drugs, whichever is higher in dollar amount.
Aggravated Delivery of Methamphetamine
If the delivery or possession with intent to deliver offense occurs under certain circumstances, then the offense becomes Aggravated Delivery. Those circumstances are as follows:
- A person is over 18 years of age, delivers meth to a person under 18
- A person over 18 years old uses a person under 18 to deliver the drug
- The premises (including a vehicle) used for the offense were protected by firearms, explosives, booby traps, alarm systems, surveillance systems, guard dogs or dangerous animals
- The offense occurred in any school, on any real property comprising any school, or in any school bus or other conveyance owned, leased or rented by the school district to transport students
- The person delivers the drug to a known pregnant woman
The penalties for Aggravated Delivery of Methamphetamine are as follows:
- No more than 5 grams—Class 1 felony
- More than 5 but not more than 15 grams—Class X felony, 6-30 years in prison, $100,000 fine
- More than 15 but not more than 100—Class X felony, 8-40 years in prison, $200,000 fine
- More than 100 grams—Class X felony, 10-50 years in prison, $300,000 fine
Of course, as above, the fine may be based upon the street value of the drugs, whichever is greater.
Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing
Because of the relative ease with which one can cook up meth, the law criminalizes both the possession of the chemicals and the tools needed to make the drug, as well as the act of participating in a methamphetamine operation. Depending upon the circumstances and the quantities involved, these penalties are indeed severe. Participation in meth manufacturing starts out as a Class 1 felony (for amounts under 15 grams), and from there on up, it is a Class X felony, with the same graduated increase in prison time as follows:
- 15 or more but less than 100 grams—6-30 years, $100,000 fine or street value, whichever is more
- 100 or more but less than 400 grams—9-40 years, $200,000 fine, or street value
- 400 or more but less than 900 grams—12-50 years, $300,000 fine, or street value
- 900 or more grams—15-60 years, $400,000 fine, or street value
To commit the offense of Participation in a Methamphetamine Manufacturing operation, one must knowingly participate in the manufacturing of meth with the intent that meth, or a substance containing meth, be produced. As with every other statute, there is an Aggravated Participation statute. Participation becomes aggravated when the offense occurs:
- In a multi-unit dwelling
- In a structure or vehicle with a child under 18, a senior 60 or older, or a person with a disability incapable of providing self-care for their physical needs, residing in or present where the manufacturing is happening, and their health or safety are endangered by the manufacturing of meth.
- With a known pregnant woman (this includes the woman herself if she is participating)
- In a structure or vehicle protected by firearms, explosives, booby traps, alarm systems, surveillance systems, guard dogs or dangerous animals
- The manufacturing of meth is a contributing cause of death, serious bodily injury, disability, or disfigurement of another person, including but not limited to any emergency service provider
- The manufacturing process is a contributing cause of a fire, explosion, or damage to another person’s property
- The location is within 1,000 feet of a place of worship or parsonage (the house where a person of the cloth resides), or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising any school
Aggravated Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing
The penalties for Aggravated Participation are all Class X felonies, with mandatory prison and potential fines as follows:
- Less than 15 grams—6-30 years, $100,000 fine or street value, whichever is greater
- 15 grams or more, but less than 100—9-40 years, $200,000 fine or street value
- 100 grams or more, but less than 400—12-50 years, $300,000 fine or street value
- 400 grams or more—15-60 years, $400,000 fine or street value
Drug Precursors and Cold Medicines
As stated before, the laws also attack the possession of the substances used to make methamphetamine. Certain substances found in everyday cold medicines can be converted through the chemical process, and the possession of these substances (whether or not in standard dosage form), with the intent that they be used to manufacture meth or a substance containing meth, are felony offenses. Among the chemicals listed as meth precursors are ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, benzyl methyl ketone, methyl benzyl ketone, and others. If the drug comes in standard dosage form, the following amounts apply:
- Less than 15 grams—Class 2 felony
- 15 or more but less than 30 grams—Class 1 felony
- 30 or more but less than 150 grams—Class X felony, 6-30 years in prison, fine up to $100,000
- 150 or more but less than 500 grams—Class X felony, 8-40 years, fine up to $200,000
- 500 grams or more—Class X felony, 10-50 years, fine up to $300,000
In any form other than standard dosage form, the amounts are:
- Less than 10 grams—Class 2 felony
- 10 or more but less than 20 grams—Class 1 felony
- 20 or more but less than 100 grams—Class X felony, 6-30 years, fine up to $100,000
- 100 or more but less than 350 grams—Class X felony, 8-40 years, fine up to $200,000
- 350 grams or more—Class X felony, 10-50 years, fine up to $300,000
There is a rule of evidence in the statute that provides that if the drugs are in a sealed, factory imprinted container (including but not limited to a bottle, box, package, or blister pack) at the time of seizure, that this constitutes prima facie (meaning “on its face”) evidence that the meth precursor is as described and in the amount listed on the container. The factory imprinted container is then, by itself, admissible as evidence at trial to prove the contents of the container, without the need to test it in a laboratory.
Anhydrous Ammonia & Other Chemicals
The chemical breakdown of the precursors is dependent upon the use of Anhydrous Ammonia, which is normally used in farming. One cannot knowingly possess anhydrous ammonia in any quantity, nor can one procure it, store it, or deliver it, with the intention to manufacture meth. To do so is a Class 1 felony. The offense becomes aggravated, and is punished as a Class X felony, with a prison term of 6 to 30 years, a fine up to $100,000, or both, when the anhydrous ammonia:
- Is stored or present in a multi-unit dwelling
- Is stored or present in a structure or vehicle with a child under 18, a person 60 years or older, or a person with a disability, that cannot properly self-care, that resides, or is present, or is endangered by the presence of the chemical
- Contributes to the death, serious bodily injury, disability or disfigurement of another
- Is a contributing cause to a fire, explosion, or damage to another’s property
The statute also makes it a Class 3 felony to knowingly store anhydrous ammonia in an unauthorized container, and to attempt to do so is a Class 4 felony. It is an affirmative defense to show that the container in question is in “substantial compliance” to Illinois or Federal Administrative Rules pertaining to the safe storage of the chemical. To tamper in any way with the equipment used to properly store the chemical in any way, without the proper authorization from the lawful landowner where it is being stored (presumably a farm or other large agricultural concern) is likewise a Class 3 felony.
Other Penalties That Apply to Meth Manufacture
For any other substance, chemical or piece of equipment that is used to manufacture meth, (that is not a meth precursor or anhydrous ammonia), the knowing possession with the intent to manufacture is a Class 2 felony. It is also a Class 2 felony to knowingly use, or allow to be used, a vehicle, structure, real property or personal property within the person’s control, to help bring about a meth violation. It is also a Class 2 felony to act as a guard or look-out for a meth operation, or to improperly dispose of or burn the waste used in the meth manufacturing process.
If one knowingly endangers the life and health of a child by exposing or allowing exposure to a meth manufacturing environment, it is a Class 2 felony. If the child dies, suffers great bodily harm, a disability or permanent disfigurement as a result of a violation, then it is a Class X felony, punishable by 6-30 years in prison, and fine of up to $100,000.
As for Methamphetamine Trafficking, the statute penalizes not only the importation of the drug itself, but also the meth precursors and the anhydrous ammonia. The sentence for trafficking is not less than two times the minimum sentence, and not more than two times the maximum sentence based upon the amount of meth brought in, or for the amount of precursor, or for any amount of the anhydrous ammonia.
Speak to an Experienced Chicago Drug Defense Attorney
When charged with any drug offense, contact an experienced Chicago drug crime defense attorney immediately. The legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC has successfully defended thousands of clients charged with offenses such as these. Call us 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824 to discuss how we can help you too.