CAUSING OR RISKING CATASTROPHE - 18 Pa.C.S § 3302
CAUSING OR RISKING CATASTROPHE - 18 Pa.C.S § 3302

In Pennsylvania, it is common for Causing or Risking Catastrophe to be charged in meth lab prosecutions because of the risk of explosion, fire, and/or poison gas they present.

 

Section 3302 Defined

 

  1. Causing catastrophe.--A person who causes a catastrophe by explosion, fire, flood, avalanche, collapse of building, release of poison gas, radioactive material or other harmful or destructive force or substance, or by any other means of causing potentially widespread injury or damage, including selling, dealing in or otherwise providing licenses or permits to transport hazardous materials in violation of 75 Pa.C.S. Ch. 83 (relating to hazardous materials transportation), commits a felony of the first degree if he does so intentionally or knowingly, or a felony of the second degree if he does so recklessly.
     

  2. Risking catastrophe.--A person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he recklessly creates a risk of catastrophe in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection (a) of this section.

 

Defending Meth Lab Cases

 

Defending this charge, like any criminal case, is fact specific and stats with challenging the elements. Here, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to prove that the accused knew about the meth lab and acted with the intent to manufacture. Thus, an accused merely having a “meth lab” on their property isn’t enough evidence to support a conviction of this crime.

 

In most cases when this offense is charged there is ample evidence to support the charge. Accordingly, it is important to timely file suppression motions challenging the constitutionality of the stop, search, and/or arrest.

 

Grading & Sentencing of Section 3302

 

When this offense is charged for risking catastrophe it is graded as a felony of the third degree. The maximum penalties are seven (7) years incarceration and a $15,000 fine. The offense gravity score (OGS) of this crime is 4.

 

If catastrophe occurred, the offense is graded as a felony of the second degree and the maximum penalties are ten (10) years incarceration and a $25,000 fine if it was done so recklessly. The offense gravity score (OGS) of this crime is 6.

 

If catastrophe occurred, the offense is graded as a felony of the first degree and the maximum penalties are twenty (20) years incarceration and a $25,000 fine if it was done so intentionally. The offense gravity score (OGS) of this crime is 10.

Potential for Consecutive Sentence

When this offense is charged in meth cases the accused faces the possibility of a prolonged sentence because the penalties for the separate offenses can be applied consecutively to a conviction to any other meth related offense. 

 

A sentence court has the discretion to run the sentences for multiple convictions concurrent or consecutive to each another. A sentence is concurrent if the penalty for two or more offenses are being served simultaneously (at the same time). A consecutive sentence means that the penalty for one offense must be fulfilled before time credit is applied to the penalty for the other offense. In other words, consecutive sentences begin immediately following the completion of another sentence.  

A consecutive sentence involving this offense is also likely to elevate the offender’s PRS.

 

Cleanup of Clandestine Laboratories – 18 Pa.C.S. § 1110 18c7509s

 

Moreover, anyone convicted of this offense when it is related to a meth lab is responsible for the cost of containing and cleaning-up the meth lab.

Therefore, the restitution costs in these cases can be extraordinarily expensive. 

Free Consultation

If you or someone you love is being prosecuted for Operating a Meth Lab in Pennsylvania please call Lampman Law, these cases are challenging but we can help. 

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Lampman Law practices criminal defense and civil rights in the Counties of: Bradford, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wayne, Wyoming. Lampman Law Office is located in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

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