According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC), in 2018, there were 433 offenders of illegal fentanyl distribution, making up just over 2% of drug trafficking crimes committed in the United States. And while that might not seem like a lot, it represents a 4,711.1% increase from just four years earlier. In 2014, there were only 9 fentanyl trafficking offenders in the country. According to the most recent data, Ohio is one of the top 5 districts with fentanyl trafficking offenders.
Unlawful fentanyl dealing has been linked to several overdoses and deaths. As such, the U.S. takes offenses involving the substance seriously. If you deal in fentanyl – whether by making, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute – you could face federal drug trafficking charges. Depending on your situation, you could be sentenced to decades in prison and fined millions of dollars.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a prescription medication designed to treat severe and/or chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, fentanyl is a Schedule II drug. That means that although it has an accepted medical use, it is still considered dangerous. Additionally, it has a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
The CDC stated that prescriptions for fentanyl have decreased in recent years, but an increase in overdoses and deaths have been reported. This is likely due to the unlawful manufacturing of this synthetic opioid. The organization has recommended that state and federal law enforcement officials remain diligent in responding to and investigating claims of fentanyl distribution to prevent further harm related to the substance’s use.
What Are the Conviction Penalties for Dealing in Fentanyl?
When charged as a federal crime, the conviction penalties for trafficking in fentanyl are steep.
If you knowingly or intentionally make, distribute, dispense, or possesse with the intent to distribute fentanyl, you can face the following penalties:
- First-offense with no aggravating factors:
- Maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment
- First-offense with serious bodily injury or death resulting:
- Between 20 years’ and life imprisonment
In both instances, the maximum fine is $1,000,000 (for individuals) and $5,000,000 (for groups)
- Second or subsequent offense with no aggravating factors:
- Maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment
- Second or subsequent offense where serious bodily injury or death resulted:
- Life imprisonment
In both cases, the maximum fine is $2,000,000 (for individuals) and $10,000,000 (for groups)
As mentioned before, the government takes fentanyl distribution cases seriously, and the prosecution will seek maximum penalties. The USSC reported that nearly 98% of convicted fentanyl traffickers were sentenced to prison, receiving an average of around 6.17 months. Just recently, an Ohio man was sentenced to 22.5 years for conspiring to possess the substance with the intent to distribute.
If you’ve been accused of a federal crime in Dayton, contact Rion, Rion & Rion by calling (937) 223-9133 today. Backed by over 80 years of combined experience, we can provide the defense you need to fight your charge.