Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that has received a lot of attention in recent years due to its role in the nation’s opioid crisis. While it has been a concern to officials for years, the drug has not become a problem in California yet like it has in many other states, which is why fentanyl laws in our state are relatively lax compared to many other areas. Even so, if you have been accused of any crime related to the use of this drug, it is important to contact a Fentanyl lawyer as soon as possible.
Fentanyl Laws in California
This prescription narcotic is considered a very serious and dangerous drug since it is anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and people have been known to overdose merely by touching the drug with their bare skin. As a result, some California legislators have attempted to create specific laws to cover it exclusively, but as of now none off these drug laws have passed and fentanyl laws are similar to those for Oxycontin or any other controlled substance.
It’s worth knowing, however, that federal prosecutors in San Diego have lately taken over several cases from the state court where people died as a result of overdoses.
Fentanyl Possession Charges
Most people who are caught with the drug will only face misdemeanor drug possession charges and many will be eligible for drug diversion programs which will allow them to not only avoid jail time, but also keep the conviction off of their record. If you have been accused of possession and do not have any prior drug convictions, be sure to ask your fentanyl defense attorney about whether or not you can qualify for a drug diversion program.
There are a few exceptions when it comes to these possession charges though, and that is that those who have convictions requiring them to on the sex offender registry and those who have been convicted of particularly violent crimes like murder. In these specific cases, you could face felony charges if you are found in possession of fentanyl and could be sentenced to between two and four years in prison and face up to $20,000 in fines.
Possession for Sale Charges
If you have a particularly large quantity of fentanyl or if you have items that may indicate you intended to sell the drug, such as of scales, you could be charged with possession for sale. This is a much more serious charge than simple possession and can result in up to four years in prison and $20,000 in fines. If you were arrested while in the act of selling the drugs, you could instead be charged with “sale or transportation” charges which can result in up to five years in prison in most cases and up to nine years if you crossed two or more county lines.
In many cases, fentanyl attorneys in San Diego can negotiate possession for sale charges down to basic possession charges since evidence in these cases is often circumstantial. For example, many drug users have scales to make sure they get the right amount from their dealer and with something as potent as fentanyl, scales can be useful for dosage.
In many cases, those who have been found with this drug may also be charged with burglary if the drug seems to be part of a stash that was reported to have been stolen from a pharmacy. Burglary can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, punishable by up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor or three years in prison as a felony.
If you have been arrested for a crime related to fentanyl, do not speak to the police without your lawyer present. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.