I'm curious to know if and when folks actually charge the offense of manufacturing a controlled substance. Is there a fact scenario in which it is the only applicable offense? In cases involving meth labs, isn't attempt to manufacture the more appropriate charge? If there is some finished product at the scene the manufacturing charge could apply instead of simple possession, but that doesn't do much good if it's a small quantity. Sure, the penalty range may get bumped up, but so does the State's burden. As the saying goes, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Attempt to manufacture could then be tacked on in addition to the possession charge.
Of greater concern to me is the issue of laboratory analyses in drug cases. For much publicized reasons, here in the Dallas area drug cases are receiving greater scrutiny from all concerned parties. Currently, my general policy is to proceed to the Grand Jury with a case if a field test was performed and the drugs have already been forwared to a lab. If there was no field test then I wait for the lab results before Grand Jury. The assumption is that I will receive the lab report long before any trial date. The problem is that the labs are receiving ever-increasing work loads, so the turnaround time for their reports becomes a major concern. To illustrate, in March I received several lab reports on offenses that occurred in June and July of last year.
If everything I've heard from the folks in the DPS labs is accurate, this problem is going to get much worse. More is being demanded from the labs, but funding is not being allocated to help them keep up. Our office is currently investigating alternatives, like private labs. I'd like to know what others think about the situation, and what problems and solutions you've had experience with.
Our county seems to get more meth lab cases than we can count these days. Generally, we just file a possession case.
We experienced the same problem with DPS labs and changed to a private lab last fall. They were fine initially, but soon they were no faster than DPS. We are now on our 2nd lab and they are getting us reports in about a month. Also at half the price as the first! They have been very cooperative. We strongly recommed it.
For some reason, we have been seeing an increase in the number of meth labs in this area. We have used manufacture and possessions, also possession of anyhydrous ammonia and have indicted under the precursor statute. We have used all these because we have had so many labs busted in the last year. We have found labs actually "cooking" at the time of the raid and others in various stages of the process. It has been case specific - but unless we have good facts it is easier to prove the straight possession case so that is generally the route we take.
As far as the lab - all our drugs are analyzed by the DPS lab in Tyler. The biggest problem recently was their year and a half renovation/expansion during which they were shut down. They are currently working cases about two-three months old - but they also have no problem rushing a case and we get results in a day (we use this for jail cases obviously).
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