The trafficking of any drug is a serious crime, but trafficking fentanyl is considered a particularly egregious offense in Florida. Prosecutors treat trafficking offenders harshly because, unlike simple possession of a narcotic, trafficking implies that you are transporting, dealing, trading, or selling the drug. Often, an individual accused of trafficking possesses more drugs than if the drugs were only for personal use. Florida law comes down hard on fentanyl trafficking allegations. If the police arrest you for fentanyl trafficking, it’s essential to get a lawyer immediately. Contact us at Moses and Rooth to begin strategizing your defense right away!
What Is Fentanyl?
Law enforcement cracks down heavily on fentanyl because of the nature of the drug.
Fentanyl is an opioid that was approved for medical use several decades ago. In the medical world, it is a common strong pain medication often prescribed for severe injuries. However, like many other medicinal drugs, fentanyl has become increasingly popular on the street. It is commonly mixed or “cut” with other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. Alarmingly, many other drugs are being laced with fentanyl unbeknownst to the end user. Fentanyl lacing is leading to an increasing number of overdoses and deaths. The lethal capacity of fentanyl is the primary reason for the sharp crackdown on its use, sale, and distribution.
Schedule I Drug
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies legal and illegal drugs into five schedules. The drugs are classified according to their potential dependency and risk of abuse. Schedule V drugs are the least likely for addiction and abuse, and schedule I drugs have the highest risk. Fentanyl is a schedule I drug because of its high potential for severe psychological and physical dependency. Any schedule I drug not used in accordance with a legal prescription is illegal on both the state and federal levels.
How Long Is a Sentence for Fentanyl in Florida?
Under Florida law, people commit Fentanyl trafficking when they knowingly possess, sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or transport four or more grams of fentanyl or any fentanyl-derived compound. But how much time do you get for trafficking fentanyl in Florida?
The Florida drug trafficking statute is comprehensive and strict. Specifically, it categorizes mandatory minimum fentanyl trafficking penalties into three categories. If a person has:
- Between 4 and 14 grams of fentanyl, the mandatory minimum punishment is three years imprisonment and a $50,000 fine;
- Between 14 and 28 grams of fentanyl, the mandatory minimum penalty is 15 years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine;
- Twenty-eight or more grams of fentanyl, the mandatory minimum increases to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Generally, mandatory minimums act as the floor or the absolute minimum sentence a judge must impose. The judge has the discretion to increase the penalty—but they cannot sentence a convicted defendant to less than the mandatory minimum prescribed by statute. The prosecutor could agree to waive the mandatory minimum requirements, but this is uncommon.
In Florida, mandatory minimum drug trafficking sentences are eligible for incentive gain time. Therefore, if the individual earns gain time through good behavior, they might only have to serve 85% of their mandatory minimum sentence.
In addition to the statutory mandatory minimum prison sentence and fines, a conviction for trafficking fentanyl leads to other negative consequences as well. First and foremost, if you did not before, you will now have a criminal record. This can negatively impact your social standing among family, friends, and co-workers and gravely affect your ability to earn a living.
As you can imagine, many employers aren’t eager to hire convicted felons. Also, under Florida law, a drug trafficking conviction can lead to a professional license suspension. In other words, if your profession requires any specific license, permit, or certificate that authorizes you to practice in that profession, you may face a suspension of that license.
Furthermore, if you are over the age of 18 and convicted of a trafficking offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months.
Facing a fentanyl trafficking charge does not mean an automatic conviction. There are defenses to these charges. Which defense might apply to your case depends on the individual circumstances. Some of the most common defenses to trafficking charges are as follows:
- Fourth amendment violations (i.e., illegal search and seizure);
- Mistaken identity; and
- Lack of possession (i.e., actual or constructive possession).
Upon meeting with one of our defense attorneys, we can provide a better idea of what possible defenses you might have available.
Fentanyl Trafficking Defense Attorneys Ready to Fight for You!
At Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law, our defense team has had a seat at the tables on both sides of the courtroom—meaning that we were once prosecutors, and we know how they think. Our unique knowledge and experience as prosecutors give us the insight to develop a strong defense for you. Our client’s freedom and reputation are our top priorities. If you were arrested, contact us today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.