CASE LAW UPDATE:  Whether a District Court has the authority to order restitution for the clean up costs for a methamphetamine lab?    

Defendant was convicted of possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Manufacturing of methamphetamine typically involves a location where a defendant makes methamphetamine.  Making methamphetamine involves purchasing various chemicals and then  heating and cooking them, whereby they develop into methamphetamine.  They are then usually sold in large amounts to a middle person, who then sells them to a lower person, which lower person then sells them to individual users.  The place of manufacture or cooking of methamphetamine can usually be rather dangerous, and  there is is usually a risk of the building in which they are cooked blowing up.  Also, the cooking process can leave a high amount of toxic chemicals in the air and at the location, which thereafter needs sensitive and extensive clean up.  Therefore, to clean up a former methamphetamine lab can be expensive.  Hence, the issue of restitution can arise in a criminal case involving the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Defendant appealed his sentence.  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a District Court has the authority to order restitution for the clean up costs for a methamphetamine lab.

The issue of restitution is typically determined after conviction and sentencing.  The State’s prosecutor, in Minnesota, known as the County Attorney, will file a request for restitution.  The State will often say the amount of restitution it is seeking the the motion seeking restitution.  The defendant then has these opportunity to challenge the amount of restitution sought.  If the amount is not challenged, then usually the amount of restitution becomes part of the defendant’s conditions of probation:  he is given an allotted amount of time to pay the restitution owed.  If the defendant challenges the amount sought by the State, then the Court will hold a contested restitution hearing to determine the amount of restitution the defendant will be ordered to pay.

United States v. Sarchett, 21-3803, per curiam.  Appealed from United States District Court, Northern District of Iowa.

Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Lynne Torgerson was not attorney of record in this case.

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