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220.76 Unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material

The state of New York imposes criminal penalties on persons involved with methamphetamines beyond charges associated with possession, sale, and distribution. Charges related to the post-laboratory production of the drug may be levied. Penal code § 220.76 addresses “Unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material.”

Methamphetamines are unique controlled substances in the sense these stimulants can be manufactured in a lab. The process, referred to as “cooking meth,” remains an extremely dangerous one. Methamphetamine chemicals present extreme risks due to their volatility. The chemicals can cause a major explosion destroying an entire lab. Even when an explosion does not occur, methamphetamine recipe materials inherently embody hazards. For these and other reasons, unlawfully disposing of material from a methamphetamine lab ranks as a separate and distinct crime.

Unlawful Disposal Defined

The penal code statute does not present much ambiguity regarding what constitutes unlawful disposal. When someone takes “hazardous or dangerous material” from a meth lab and disposes of the material in such a way the disposal creates a human health or safety hazard or leads to significant danger to the environmental, a crime has been committed. Dumping methamphetamine materials into a small pond where people come in contact with the water likely creates hazards, dangers, and risks to both humans and the environment.

Crime Rises to the Level of a Felony

Unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory materials ranks as a Class E felony in the state of New York. As such, the penalties for violating this law would be much harsher than a misdemeanor conviction. That said, a non-violent Class E felony is the least serious of all felony charges in New York. As is the case with other drug crimes, unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory material is considered a non-violent Class E felony.

With a class E felony, the court may impose a sentence up to a maximum of four years in prisonNew York law does note that for unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory materials, a first offense may bring forth a sentence of 1 to 1 1/2 years. The possibility of no jail time and only a sentence of probation exists as well. A second offense would bring harsher sentencing 1 1/2 to 2 years. With previous violent conviction, a second offense could receive a 2 to 2 1/2 year sentence.

Defenses to the Charges

In order for any charges under this statute to have merit, the person accused must actually possess or maintain the ability to possess or otherwise control the materials. With the former, he/she would have the materials on his/her person. With the former, the material could be in the trunk of the person’s car. Failure to establish possession, dominion, or the ability to control the materials make for an incredibly poor case for the prosecutor.

Additionally, the penal code spells out other criteria that must be met in order for the charges to have merit. The person must “knowingly” dispose of the materials in a manner that creates hazardous risks.The accused must also have the “intent” to commit the crime detailed in the statute. A person tricked into disposing materials and does not know the materials are connected in any to methamphetamines might mount a credible defense with the right attorney handling the case.

A defense attorney could also effectively represent a guilty party during the sentencing phase. Based on the defendant’s prior record or lack thereof, the attorney may successfully argue for leniency in the sentencing. Without effective representation, the sentencing may prove very unfavorable to the defendant. For this reason and more, anyone charged with this crime should retain capable counsel.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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