Why a Fentanyl Arrest is Different than Other Drug Charges
Lately, Fentanyl has been making news on a regular basis. The drug has grown in popularity and has resulted in what some people refer to as an epidemic. Because of the bad publicity, the California legislature has taken a firm stance against the drug. If you find yourself facing fentanyl possession charges, the stakes are high. Find out more about why a fentanyl arrest is different than other drug charges and what you can do to fight the charges.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetically-made opioid that was created with the intention of relieving pain. Typically, doctors use it to treat extreme pain experienced by those who suffer from cancer.
Another common pain medication is morphine. However, morphine is about 50 to 100 times weaker than fentanyl. Because fentanyl is so strong, it’s highly dangerous when misused. Over the past few years, the drug has become popular among the illegal drug market. Fentanyl overdose is common, and there have been many records of the drug causing deaths.
Between 2016 and 2017, the synthetic opioid death rate has increased by slightly less than 47%, excluding methadone. The prevalence of fentanyl death has contributed to this spike, and lawmakers and police are eager to bring an end to the drug.
Although some people are prescribed fentanyl by their doctors, the drug is available in other ways. It’s believed that the drug is manufactured in labs, then sold on the streets. Despite cracking down on the illicit drug, fentanyl remains a problem in all states. In 2017, there were 536 synthetic opioid deaths in California.
Some of those deaths happened to individuals who didn’t know they were taking fentanyl. In an effort to cut costs and increase potency, there are certain dealers who lace their drugs with fentanyl. There have been several cases of people reporting overdoses and deaths caused by drugs laced with fentanyl.
The Consequences of a Fentanyl Arrest
Any drug arrest has the potential to change your life forever. However, fentanyl possession charges come with even greater consequences. Through the Controlled Drug Substances Act, it’s listed as a Schedule II substance. This is because it’s extremely addictive but also has an accepted medical use.
As a Schedule II substance, fentanyl is illegal to possess unless you have a prescription from a qualified doctor. According to the California Health and Safety Code, fentanyl possession is usually classified as a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted for possession, you could receive as much as one year in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.
That said, there’s no guarantee you’ll only face misdemeanor charges. If you have a history of criminal convictions, you could be charged with a felony. Then, you would face between two and four years in jail and a fine of $20,000. Only certain prior convictions will escalate your charges to a felony. For instance, you will be charged with a felony if you have committed a sex crime that required you to be on a sex offender list. You will have the same fate if you committed a particularly violent crime, like rape.
Possession with Intent to Sell
If the police find you with a high quantity of fentanyl, then the consequences are much more devastating. Regardless of your true intent, the police see a high volume of drugs as an intent to sell. Just as it’s illegal to be in possession of the drug, it’s also illegal to intend to sell it.
In California, someone accused of the intent to sell fentanyl will face jail time of between 16 months and three years. It’s a felony conviction that will follow you around for years to come.
If you sell fentanyl and it directly leads to a death, you’re likely to face harsh penalties. You could be charged with the death, leaving you with a bleak future. The high rate of fentanyl overdose means those who sell the drug are at an increased risk of spending years in jail.
Changing the Laws
It’s important to note that there has been a push to have stricter penalties for individuals found in possession of fentanyl. Although those attempts have failed, there could be changes.
Whether or not the laws change, fentanyl possession should not be taken lightly. Even a misdemeanor could bring your life to a hold and prevent you from finding work or housing. If you want to secure your future, you need to fight the charges. Working with an experienced criminal lawyer may be your chance at success.
What Makes a Fentanyl Arrest so Dangerous?
While California has not yet made a change to laws regarding fentanyl, the court system is aware of the dangers of the drug. For that reason, they tend to take a strong stance against possession.
For example, one individual in Hollywood Hills was arrested for selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals to a hip-hop artist. The drug contained fentanyl and the musician was another statistic in the fentanyl death toll.
The DEA arrested the individual and he faced federal charges. If convicted, the seller will spend as many of 20 years in federal prison. Because the sale involved an illicit substance and caused a death, the penalty is more severe than usual.
If you’re facing charges for a fentanyl-related crime, you need to be aware that the court will not take your case lightly. In fact, they may use you as an example. Depending on the judge and jury, you could end up with the maximum penalty.
Fighting the Charges
The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC wants to help you take on the court system. We’ve dedicated years to helping people overcome criminal charges. Furthermore, we’re highly experienced in defending individuals caught with fentanyl. We believe that you deserve a chance.
Our firm will take you through the legal process. After meeting with you, we’ll create a strong legal defense. You may be able to beat the charges or end up with a minimal sentence. If you’re interested in learning more, call us today.