The drug fentanyl was first viewed as a means of making pain management more cost-effective for patients with serious medical issues. While doctors do prescribe this powerful synthetic opioid to those with severe pain, the drug has also become a bane of law enforcement agencies across Florida.
In recent years, drugs ranging from methamphetamine to heroin have been affected by fentanyl contamination. The number of people dying because of drug overdoses has sharply increased along with the use of fentanyl. As such, Florida has enacted some very harsh sentencing rules for fentanyl offenses.
Any degree of possession is a felony offense
Prosecutors do not need to prove that you intended to distribute the substance to others to file a felony charge against you, as they need to do with certain other substances. The mere possession of fentanyl could lead to a third-degree felony charge.
If you get convicted or plead guilty, a judge could sentence you to up to five years in prison, impose up to $5,000 in fines and even revoke your driver’s license. Those penalties only apply when someone has under four grams of fentanyl, which is the threshold for personal use in Florida currently.
Anyone with more than four grams of fentanyl but less than 14 grams in their possession could face up to seven years in prison with a minimum of three years, as well as 50,000 in fines. If someone has between 14 grams and 28 grams or roughly an ounce, they could face between 15 to 20 years in prison.
These new sentencing guidelines are actually part of Florida’s attempt to crack down on fentanyl trafficking and reduced the public health impact that opioid addiction has had in recent years. Unfortunately, individuals who are already struggling with addiction will often be the ones to pay the price for these harsh state policies.
Some people accused of a fentanyl offense could qualify for drug court proceedings, while others will have grounds for a strong criminal defense strategy. Making sense of Florida’s strict drug laws can help those accused of a drug offense involving fentanyl and/or other controlled substances.