Most Florida citizens already know that selling a controlled substance is illegal and can lead to harsh penalties for those convicted. But how about the sale of counterfeit drugs? Perhaps you sold a baggie of aspirin that you passed off as OxyContin to someone at a concert. After the show, you hear that there were undercover cops in the crowd and you worry that you’ll be arrested for selling fake drugs. Can you be charged and eventually convicted for faking it?
The short answer is yes: state and federal law prohibits the sale of fake drugs. Though there’s slightly less risk involved in selling counterfeit drugs than there is in dealing the real thing, selling anything that is purported to be an illegal narcotic could still potentially land the supplier with a substantial prison sentence, hefty fines, and a blow to their personal and professional reputation. Charges for selling counterfeit drugs in Orlando can leave you in great legal jeopardy. For help protecting your rights, contact an experienced drug charge attorney today.
Florida Statute 817.563, which makes it unlawful to sell a legal substance in place of an illegal substance, defines the crime in the following terms:
“It is unlawful for any person to agree, consent, or in any manner offer to unlawfully sell to any person a controlled substance…and then sell to such person any other substance in lieu of such controlled substance.”
As you might expect, it’s also unlawful to counterfeit an illegal substance with a different illegal substance according to Florida Statute 831.31. Oftentimes, fabricating an unlawful drug can be executed by watering it down, mixing it with something else, or by putting another controlled substance in its place that provides similar effects.
Faking the sale of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug—the specific types of which are listed under Florida Statute 893.03(1–4)—is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Imitating the sale of a Schedule V drug—which is categorized per Florida Statute 893.03(5)—is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In order to convict a defendant for selling counterfeit drugs, the state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was without legal authority to agree, consent, or offer to sell a controlled substance. Likewise, the state must prove that the defendant sold something in place of the controlled substance. To “sell,” in this case, means to transfer or deliver something to another person in exchange for money or something of value.
Here are a few of the defenses available to a person charged with selling fake drugs:
Though the law prohibiting counterfeit drug sales makes it a crime to sell a fake pharmaceutical drug, the penalty increases if the person makes the sale with intent to defraud or mislead. A person charged with a counterfeit drug sale who can show that they didn’t intend to defraud the victim may receive a lighter sentence. If your lawyer can prove that you didn’t deceive the other person or misrepresent a fact, you may be able to reduce the penalties associated with a conviction.
A person who lacks knowledge that they’re dealing a fake substance has not committed fraud. For instance, if you had received a baggie of aspirin from a third party who told you it was OxyContin and then you sold the substance to another person, you would not be guilty of fraud.
The defendant has to actually offer to sell the drug in order to be convicted of the crime in question. If the defendant is contemplating selling but money never changes hands, they can’t be held guilty of the crime because there wasn’t a sale.
If you’ve been arrested for selling counterfeit drugs, contact the experts at The Umansky Law Firm as soon as possible so we can begin strategizing the most effective ways to protect your rights and potentially reduce or completely eliminate the charges against you.
If you have been arrested for selling counterfeit drugs in Florida and need help protecting your rights, the expert legal team at The Umansky Law Firm can help. As former prosecutors and public defenders on a state and local level, our attorneys can provide you with a sound strategy and a concrete defense based on years of experience working in the Florida criminal justice system. We understand the ins and outs of Florida drug laws and serve to protect our clients from further punishment and damage to their reputation after being accused of selling counterfeit drugs in Orlando.
With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the time and expertise to launch an investigation into your case and the circumstances leading up to your arrest. We’ll work tirelessly to fight for your rights. Give us a call or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys