According to law enforcement agencies, the United States is in the middle of an “opioid crisis.” In recent years, the focus of that crisis has increasing been the illegal distribution, possession, and use of fentanyl. In less than a decade (2010 to 2017) the number of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. more than doubled. Moreover, the number of deaths involving heroin in combination with synthetic narcotics has been increasing steadily since 2014 and shows that the increase in deaths involving heroin is driven by the use of fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Consequently, anyone convicted by the federal government of distributing fentanyl faces serious penalties.
At Haas Law, we have the experience, skills, and committed needed to successfully defend clients who have been accused of fentanyl distribution by the federal government. Let us put those assets to work protecting your rights and mounting a vigorous defense if you have been charged with fentanyl distribution by the federal government.
What Is Fentanyl?
Opioids are a class of drugs that have historically been used to treat pain. Prescription drugs such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are examples of opioid drugs that are routinely used to legally treat pain. Heroin is also an opioid drug; however, it is not legally prescribed or used in the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Unlike heroin, fentanyl is legally prescribed in the U.S., usually to treat individuals who are experiencing severe pain, recovering from surgery, or suffering from chronic pain and have built up a resistance to other opioids.
Potential Penalties for a Fentanyl Distribution Conviction
If you have been charged with fentanyl distribution at the federal level, you need to know what potential penalties you are facing if convicted.
- Conviction of trafficking (distribution) of 40-399 grams of fentanyl or 10-99 grams of Fentanyl Analogue as a first offense is punishable by not less than five (5) years and not more than forty (40) years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5 million if the defendant is an individual and up to $25 million if not an individual. If death or serious bodily injury occurs the punishment shall be not less than 20 years and up to life in prison.
- Conviction of trafficking (distribution) of 40-399 grams of fentanyl or 10-99 grams of Fentanyl Analogue as a second offense is punishable by not less than ten (10) years and not more than life in prison and/or a fine of up to $8 million if the defendant is an individual and up to $50 million if not an individual. If death or serious bodily injury occurs the punishment shall be life in prison.
Common Defense Strategies for Fentanyl Distribution
Although your defense must be developed around the facts of your case, there are some common defense strategies used in fentanyl distribution prosecutions, including:
- Claiming that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden. Under the United States criminal justice system, the prosecution (state or federal government) must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Sometimes, this results in the best defense strategy being to not present a defense. If the prosecution has failed to meet its burden, the best defense may be to convince the judge or jury of that failure.
- Challenging the legality of a search. Given the nature of the alleged crime, most federal drug distribution cases involve at least one search and seizure. While law enforcement officers can conduct searches and seizures, they must follow the proper procedures from start to finish for the search to be legal. Usually, that means the officers must first obtain a warrant based on probable cause before conducting the search. Challenging the legality of a search and seizure is a common defense strategy in drug cases. If the search is found to have been conducted illegally, any evidence seized during the search will be excluded.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Fentanyl Distribution Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with trafficking or distribution of fentanyl by the federal government, consult with an experienced fentanyl distribution defense attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of your case.
At Haas Law, our fentanyl distribution defense attorneys have the experience and dedication necessary to defend you throughout the prosecution of your case. We are committed to aggressively defending you and your rights.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.