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Los Angeles Fentanyl Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug offense – possession, distribution, etc. – the potential penalties will depend in part on the particular drug involved. And probably no drug has received as much attention in recent years as fentanyl. Several decades ago, many people had not even heard of the drug. But over the past 20 years, it has become not only more well known, but the dangers associated with it have led some to refer to the use of the drug as an “epidemic.”

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. What that means is that it is a substance created in a laboratory that targets the same areas of the brain as natural opioids, to produce relief from severe pain. Fentanyl is, however, significantly stronger than other opioids. It is classified in the California Health and Safety Code as a Schedule 1 drug. This means that, according to the government, the drug has no current medical use, as well as a significant potential for abuse.

One of the problems with fentanyl is its strength. To give you an idea of how strong this drug is, consider that while fentanyl is not the strongest opioid in existence, it is 100 times stronger than morphine, and perhaps 50 times stronger than heroin.

Fentanyl is produced in legitimate pharmaceutical laboratories, as well as in illegal, clandestine labs. Despite the categorization of fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug, it is approved for the treatment of severe pain, often pain which is the result of advanced cancer. It also produces other effects, including euphoria.

Fentanyl has also come under fire because it is often illegally used – in smaller amounts – to boost the effects of other drugs. The result of all this is that there has been an avalanche of sorts involving fentanyl overdoses and fentanyl-related deaths.

Penalties for Fentanyl Possession and Trafficking

The surge in fentanyl use, and the accompanying problem of overdoses, has led not only to heightened concerns about the use and abuse of the drug, but also to the increase in penalties associated with it. As of 2024, the penalties relating to fentanyl in California have increased dramatically. For example, if you are convicted of selling or distributing more than a kilo of fentanyl, an additional 3 years in prison will be added to your sentence. When you consider that under HSC 11350, the penalty for trafficking in fentanyl (any usable amount) can lead to a sentence of 3, 4, or 5 years in prison, the additional penalty is a significant increase in the potential prison time you face if convicted. And if the amount is in excess of eighty kilograms, it can lead to an additional term of 25 years in prison. The possible fines imposed by the court if you are convicted of a fentanyl-related offense are also higher under the new laws.

Even possession of small amounts of the drug can lead to a jail sentence of up to a year, and if you have a prior conviction under section 11350, you could be sentenced to several years in prison.

We should also note that a substantial number of organizations have opposed the increased penalties. Their position is that the most likely targets of the new laws are people who are addicted to fentanyl and have little or no control over their situation.

Defenses to Fentanyl Charges

If you are facing a fentanyl possession or trafficking charge, it is essential that you hire an experienced Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer for your defense. In addition, since fentanyl possession and distribution are crimes under state and federal law, be sure that your attorney is experienced in handling drug cases in both federal court and California state court.

Depending on the facts of your case, defenses may include the following:

  • You were unaware of the fact that the drugs were in your car, at your home, etc., and they were placed there by another person without your knowledge.
  • The witness against you is lying to cover up the fact that the drugs actually belonged to him.
  • The drugs in question were discovered by the police as the result of an illegal search and seizure. This could be, for example, a defective warrant or a warrantless search without probable cause.
  • Chain of custody issues. If the substance cannot be tracked from beginning to end, the evidence may become at best questionable in court.

These and other defenses may lead to the dismissal of the case against you. In other cases, they will reveal weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, leading to a possible reduction in the charges you are facing.

Fentanyl Defense Attorney in Los Angeles

The potential sentence if you are convicted on a fentanyl charge is severe. Even in the case of simple possession, you could be looking at jail or prison time. And under the new law, enhancements based upon the amount of fentanyl possessed could increase your sentence, if you are convicted, by as much as 25 years in prison.

If you are facing a fentanyl charge, speak to a Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Chris Bou Saeed at CBS Law, an experienced criminal defense attorney with years of experience successfully defending clients charged with drug offenses. Call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005

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