State governments regulate drugs in the interest of public safety and health, and some drugs are regulated more strictly than others. Such controlled substances include fentanyl, a powerful opiate used to treat extreme pain; but the illegal use and sale of fentanyl can lead to a criminal conviction and severe penalties.
If you face fentanyl charges—whether for possession, distribution, or trafficking—a Winter Garden fentanyl lawyer could aid you in your defense. The penalties for fentanyl offenses include significant jail time and hefty fines, so consulting with a trusted drug attorney every step of the way can make the difference in protecting yourself.
Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance—as listed in the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act—but some chemical compounds and derivatives considered more dangerous and are listed as Schedule I substances. Therefore, possession and distribution of fentanyl or its derivatives can lead to a variety of harsh criminal penalties, which a Winter Garden attorney can make clear when reviewing the case.
Possession of fentanyl can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession would include scenarios where drugs are found on a person’s body or in their clothes, but constructive possession broadens the term to include the presence of drugs in a place within a person’s control, such as in their car or home.
Section 893.13(6) of the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defines possession of fentanyl as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, possession of more than 10 grams of fentanyl bumps up the offense to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Distribution of fentanyl does not have to involve an actual sale or manufacturing of the drug; the intent to do so can lead to a distribution charge without a transaction. Section 893.13(1) makes distribution of fentanyl a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Like possession above 10 grams, however, the distribution of fentanyl near certain locations enhances the possible punishment. Distributing fentanyl near a childcare facility, a school, a college campus, a community center or public park, or a public housing facility can also bump up the charge to a first-degree felony. Also, distribution of fentanyl near these locations carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years if convicted.
The Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act separates trafficking of fentanyl from possession and distribution by the amount involved and scales the punishment based on weight: the more fentanyl involved, the more severe the sentencing.
Section 893.135(c)(4) defines trafficking as buying, selling, importing, manufacturing, or possessing more than 4 grams of fentanyl. Trafficking fentanyl is a first-degree felony, and the tiers of punishment escalate based on the amount:
Even worse, a person convicted of trafficking fentanyl can suffer an even larger punishment if they sold it to a minor through a product disguised as a legitimate product through its appearance. In that case, a convicted person would face a minimum of 25 years in prison with a maximum possibility of life imprisonment, as well as a fine of $1 million.
Given these severe penalties for relatively small amounts of fentanyl, a Winter Garden attorney’s help in the early stages can make a huge difference. A lawyer familiar with fentanyl charges could make sure that a person’s rights are respected and that the police account for the alleged fentanyl properly.
The dangers of fentanyl have led to the harsh criminal penalties detailed here. Small amounts of fentanyl can lead to outsized prison sentences and extraordinary fines.
You should contact a Winter Garden fentanyl lawyer if you face charges of any kind. A criminal defense attorney could help show that you did not possess the drugs or that the alleged amount is incorrect or even nonexistent. Call as soon as possible to protect yourself from possible overreach by law enforcement and to prevent serious legal consequences.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys