Florida imposes strict penalties for the possession and distribution of fentanyl. A fentanyl conviction in Florida can easily result in thousands of dollars in fines along with potential prison time. If you are facing charges for fentanyl in Florida, you need a qualified attorney who will protect your rights and fight on your behalf for a favorable outcome.
Our team at Moses & Rooth knows how to navigate allegations involving fentanyl and tailor a legal defense to your situation. Many clients want to know:
- What charges can you get for having fentanyl?
- What penalties can you face for selling fentanyl?
- What are valid legal defenses to charges for selling fentanyl?
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine, but approximately 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is a prescription drug but is produced and sold illegally in large quantities. The narcotic treats patients with severe pain. Prescription fentanyl is typically given through a shot, a patch on a person’s skin, or a lozenge. Illegal fentanyl is often distributed in pill or powder form.
Fentanyl is frequently mixed with other controlled substances like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA. Mixing fentanyl with other substances poses a significant risk of overdose. Without a prescription, Florida considers pure fentanyl a Schedule II drug and considers any fentanyl derivative a Schedule I drug.
Is Fentanyl Dangerous?
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported overdose deaths in the United States grew by 30% from 2019 to 2020 and increased by 15% from 2020 to 2021. The Florida Department of Health issued a public safety alert in July 2022, notifying residents of an exponential increase in overdoses involving fentanyl. According to the alert, Florida recorded 6,150 overdose deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in 2020.
What Are the Criminal Charges for Fentanyl in Florida?
Depending on the amount of fentanyl in a person’s possession, they will likely face charges of possessing a controlled substance or trafficking of a controlled substance.
Fentanyl Possession Charges
Florida Statute Section 893.13(6)(a) outlaws possession of fentanyl without a valid prescription. Having “possession” of fentanyl means that you knew the substance was illegal and either 1) had the fentanyl on your person or 2) had knowledge that it was in your presence and you had control of it. Florida considers possession of fentanyl a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony carries a maximum potential prison sentence of five years, a fine of up to $5,000, possible suspension of your driver’s license, and mandatory drug counseling.
Fentanyl Trafficking Charges
If someone has more than four grams of fentanyl in their possession, they may be charged with fentanyl trafficking. Florida considers the trafficking of fentanyl a first-degree felony. A judge cannot sentence a person convicted of fentanyl trafficking below the statutorily required mandatory minimum sentence unless the State Attorney agrees to waive the mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.
If someone possessed between four and fourteen grams of fentanyl, the judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine but may impose a sentence of up to 30 years. If someone possessed more than fourteen grams but less than twenty-eight grams of fentanyl, the judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison and a $100,000 fine but may impose a sentence of up to 30 years. If someone possessed more than twenty-eight grams of fentanyl, the judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty-five years in prison and a $500,000 fine but may impose a sentence of up to 30 years.
Defenses to Fentanyl Charges in Florida
Valid legal defenses that apply in cases involving fentanyl charges include:
- You have a valid fentanyl prescription,
- The evidence against you is inadmissible in court, or
- The fentanyl belonged to someone else.
It is not a valid defense that a person believed the substance they possessed was a controlled substance other than fentanyl, like heroin or cocaine.
If You Need Assistance with Fentanyl Charges in Florida, Contact Moses & Rooth
When your freedom is at stake, you cannot afford to hire an inexperienced, unqualified attorney to represent you. Luckily, Attorney Andrew Moses and Attorney Jay Rooth both have extensive knowledge of the criminal justice process.
At Moses & Rooth, we pride ourselves on helping our clients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. From misdemeanors to serious felonies, we have the experience necessary to provide you with the zealous advocacy that you need and deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and see how our criminal defense attorneys can help you fight for your rights.