The People’s Lawyer

Drug lab fires can lead to additional criminal charges

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Manufacturing illicit drugs is dangerous in many ways. Apart from the fact that it’s illegal in West Virginia, most controlled substances are produced in crude and unsafe homemade “labs” which can be dangerous for both the drug makers and anyone else nearby.

One of the most significant risks in any illegal drug lab is fire. Because the manufacturing of these substances often involves highly volatile chemical reactions and flammable materials, even static electricity is enough to set off an explosion.

Due to the dangers involved, West Virginia not only prohibits the manufacturing of illicit controlled substances but also charges drug makers if their lab produces a violent fire that hurts anyone.

Wanton endangerment is a crime

According to state law, if a person during the manufacture of a prohibited controlled substance uses fire – the use of which creates a considerable risk of death or serious bodily injury to another – that person is guilty of a felony.

If a court convicts a person of wanton endangerment involving the use of fire, the court can either have the person confined for up to five years with the state Division of Corrections or serve up to a year in prison. In addition, the court may order the convicted to pay as much as $2,500 in fines.

Drug lab fires are dangerous. If an illegal substance producer intentionally causes one to evade capture, they can face additional criminal charges if the fire causes an injury or death. Unless the accused mounts a proper defense in court, they will see additional years in prison and fines tacked on to their other penalties for drug manufacturing.