According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Controlled Substance Schedule, fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance. The crimes that pertain to fentanyl include possession, intent to sell, distribution, delivery, manufacturing, and trafficking. In June 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 477 into law. This law enacts new mandatory prison sentences for persons convicted of trafficking and dealing fentanyl and other harmful drugs.

If you are facing any these charges, you will need an adept and experienced Sarasota fentanyl drug charge attorney on your side. Attorney Erika Valcarcel will review the circumstances of your case and fight for the reduction or dismissal of your charges.

To get started with a free case evaluation, call a Sarasota drug lawyer from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900.

The Potency of Fentanyl

As a synthetic opioid analgesic, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. This drug, when prescribed by a doctor, is commonly used to treat severe pain conditions or to manage pain for a short duration of time after surgery. Fentanyl is most often administered through injection, lozenges, or transdermal patches.

Recent Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl-Related Crimes

Prescription fentanyl used to manage pain can be misused. However, most of the overdoses and deaths related to fentanyl involve its illicit manufacturing. Over the last several years, the prescription rate for fentanyl greatly increased in the state of Florida. At the same time, the number of fatalities as a result of using illegally manufactured versions of the drug has dramatically increased.

Many overdoses involving fentanyl occur when it is mixed with other substances and sold to the consumer without their knowledge. Drug dealers manufacture fentanyl in laboratories. It is sold either in tablet form or as a powder mixed with heroin. As a tablet, it can resemble many other types of less powerful opioids, making it very dangerous.

Penalties for Possession and Trafficking of Fentanyl

As a synthetic form of heroin, fentanyl itself has a variety of synthetic versions. These synthetic drugs are classified as either Schedule I or Schedule II under Florida law. As such, they pose a significant danger to the public, have a high potential for abuse, and have little or zero medical use.

House Bill 477 imposes mandatory penalties for persons convicted of possessing or trafficking fentanyl. The consequences for distributing and possessing fentanyl are severe under this statute. An experienced and adept fentanyl possession defense attorney is needed to intelligently and effectively defend against these charges.

If you are caught with fewer than four grams of fentanyl, you face up to five years in prison, and fines reaching $5,000.

If the amount of fentanyl possessed is equal to four or more, the charge will be increased to drug trafficking.

Florida judges are required to issue the following minimum mandatory prison sentences for persons found guilty of possessing/trafficking fentanyl in the following quantities:

  • Four to 13 grams – prison sentence of three years, and fines reaching $50,000
  • 14 to 28 grams – prison sentence of 15 years and fines reaching $100,000
  • More than 28 grams – prison sentence of 25 years, and fines reaching $500,000

Fentanyl is also now a part of Florida’s murder statutes. This means a drug dealer can be convicted of homicide by the act of selling fentanyl to another person. This gives law enforcement greater flexibility to prosecute dealers, although not without certain challenges. For instance, in order to achieve a homicide conviction, a medical examiner will have to testify with a high degree of certainty that the victim’s death was due mainly to the recipient’s consumption of fentanyl.

Additional possible consequences for a fentanyl-related charge include loss of employment or future job opportunities, loss of state licenses, and difficulty qualifying for rental housing.

Defenses Against Florida Fentanyl Charges

An experienced Sarasota fentanyl drug charge attorney can defend you against any type of drug charge leveled against you. There are a range of strategies that your attorney may use that can potentially lead to lesser charges and penalties in your case. Possible defenses for your fentanyl possession or trafficking charge(s) include:

  • No drug paraphernalia were found as evidence in your case
  • Upon your arrest, you did not tell the police you had the intent to distribute or sell the drugs in your possession
  • When you were arrested, you were not in possession of a significant amount of cash or a firearm, which would indicate your involvement in drug distribution
  • You possessed the substance for the exclusive purpose of satisfying your addiction
  • You can prove that your addiction to prescription medication started with a lawful prescription you obtained from a doctor
  • The fentanyl recovered by law enforcement was not packaged in such a manner that would indicate intent to sell

Contact a Sarasota Fentanyl Drug Charge Attorney

A charge for possession or trafficking of fentanyl or any other dangerous drug can have you facing serious legal consequences. Attorney Erika Valcarcel knows how to fight vigorously for the most favorable result possible. Attorney Valcarcel is a Sarasota Fentanyl drug charge attorney who can craft a defense strategy specifically designed to reduce, and if possible, dismiss your charges.

To arrange a free consultation to discuss your case, contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900.