Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida enacts new fentanyl possession penalties

If you are among the many Floridians affected somehow by the increasing popularity of fentanyl in the area, know that the state has now enacted minimum jail sentences for anyone who possesses certain amounts of the synthetic opioid. The governor recently signed House Bill 477 into law in an effort to reduce the number of fentanyl-related deaths and overdoses in Florida, many of which occur around the southwestern part of the state.

Should law enforcement officials find you in possession of certain amounts of fentanyl, you can anticipate the following penalties.

Mandatory jail time

If authorities find you possessing between four and 14 grams of fentanyl or one of its derivatives, you will face a mandatory jail sentence of, at minimum, three years. Should you possess somewhere between 14 and 28 grams of the substance, that mandatory jail sentence extends to 15 years, and if authorities find that you are in possession of more than 28 grams, you can expect to serve at least 25 years behind bars.

Controversy

The decision to implement mandatory minimum jail times for state residents who possess fentanyl is controversial. At one point, the minimum jail sentences were removed from the bill following some disagreement about whether they were too harsh for some offenders and whether they unfairly stripped decision-making power from judges. Advocates in favor of the minimum jail sentences, however, argued that the impact the drug is having on families and Florida’s general public warranted the stronger penalties.

Fentanyl’s impact on Florida

Per Governing.com, 705 Floridians lost their lives because of fentanyl in 2015, with Manatee and Sarasota counties particularly affected by the drug. If you are among the many Floridians suffering from an addiction to opioids, know that the state recently gained access to more than $27 million in federal funding from the Health and Human Services Opioid State Targeted Response Grant. Legislators hope that the money secured by the grant will help reduce the number of opioid-dependent people living in the state, and as a result, reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.

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