If you have been charged with the distribution of fentanyl, you will be facing tougher penalties in the State of California this year. The change in the law was precipitated by the increase in fatalities related to fentanyl overdoses.
A synthetic opioid, fentanyl has proved to be fatal even in small doses. Up to 100 times stronger than its cousin morphine, pharmaceutical fentanyl was originally developed as a way to help patients manage the pain of cancer. While it is sometimes sold by itself, it is also frequently used to lace other street drugs such as cocaine or heroin because it is much cheaper. Oxycodone has been co-opted, as well, with counterfeit pills containing the more powerful and dangerous fentanyl. These drugs are available on the streets of California and are extremely easy to get a hold of. Consequently, people wind up unwittingly ingesting the more dangerous drug, fentanyl.
Facts About Fentanyl
Fentanyl, known on the street by monikers including Apace, China Girl, Dance Fever, He-Man, Murder 8, Jackpot, and many others, can be smoked, snorted, spiked on blotter paper, or taken orally. While users seek euphoria or relaxation, they may also suffer confusion, dizziness, vomiting, respiratory depression, or death.
The legislature was not taking fentanyl distribution lightly as they crafted stiffer penalties for those convicted. For individuals who are charged with having over one kilogram of the substance, the new law requires three more years behind bars for a guilty verdict. The sentence jumps to an additional five years for those with over four kilograms of fentanyl and 10 more years for individuals with 10 or more kilograms. 20 kilograms gets 15 more years in prison,40 kilograms gets 20 more years, and 80 kilograms gets 25 years.
Hopes for a Deterrent Effect
Many are hoping that anyone previously considering trafficking this dangerous substance will think twice now that the penalties are so severe. Without the new law, it is argued, the supply of fentanyl could flood California communities, leading to more senseless deaths.
Opponents of the Law
The California Public Defenders Association believes that, according to research, these kinds of laws do nothing to deter the sale or use of drugs and instead have dangerous unintended consequences. Instead of preventing overdoses, they fear that more effective strategies for addressing the opioid crisis will be put on the back burner. Meanwhile, they say that the apprehension of possible police intervention linked to the prospect of harsher prison sentences may result in a reluctance to call emergency responders when an overdose occurs.
The Defense You Need
If you are facing drug charges, your entire life could be about to change drastically. If the drug involved with your charges is fentanyl, the consequences are even more serious. At Boertje, & Associates, our criminal defense attorneys work to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients. To discuss this, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.