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Is It Illegal to Own Fentanyl?

It’s More Than Just a Drug Crime

Fentanyl is an opioid-derived painkiller that is considered one of the strongest and most dangerous prescription painkillers. 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is a medicine that is used to treat patients with severe pain, particularly, after surgery. It can also be used to treat patients with chronic pain and a high tolerance to other opioids.

Fentanyl's effects include:

  • Extreme happiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Problems breathing
  • Unconsciousness

As you can see, fentanyl can do more harm than good. When it’s not prescribed but rather made and used illegally, fentanyl can be fatal for most people. Merely 2 milligrams of the “one and done” drug is enough to kill. After all, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, which is already a dangerous drug.

In most cases involving fentanyl overdoses, the drug is laced into cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and meth. Users don’t see it coming — it is difficult to detect fentanyl without testing strips. In 2019, more than 36,000 people died from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and that number is expected to increase.

Fentanyl is extremely dangerous yet widespread in the US. Other key facts to know about this synthetic opioid include:

  • Fentanyl is typically made in China and transported through Mexico
  • Rates of overdose deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs have increased by over 16% from 2018 to 2019
  • The largest increase in opioid-involved deaths other than methadone (mainly fentanyl and fentanyl analogs) had over a 60% increase from 536 in 2017 to 865 in 2018
  • Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids were nearly 12 times higher in 2019 than in 2013
  • 1,500 pounds of this drug ― not including seizures in pill form ― were seized since 2018
  • Prosecutors in San Luis Obispo and Contra Costa counties pressed murder charges against suspected drug dealers over the year, as well as those in Florida and Colorado

Implied Malice in Fatal Fentanyl Overdoses

Prosecutors have been pressing murder charges in addition to drug charges for fentanyl sales and distributions that resulted in deaths.

In Florida, for instance, a woman was indicted on first-degree murder after providing fentanyl-laced drugs to a person, which eventually killed them. Two other Florida residents were arrested for murder after being accused of selling fentanyl-laced drugs that resulted in an overdose death back in August. California is no exception. 4 men in Riverside County were charged with second-degree murder for selling fentanyl-spiked drugs, knowing these substances were lethal.

These murder charges have been applied in cases where implied malice is suspected. Implied malice is the act of committing a harmful and potentially deadly act despite knowing its impacts. It occurs when no considerable provocation appears or when the circumstances around the killing demonstrate an abandoned and malignant heart.

Fentanyl Overdoses & Murder Charges

Understand that fentanyl can result in more than just drug charges. You could also face murder allegations if you sold or distributed fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs to someone and killed them as a result. No matter how minor or major your role is, being involved in the sale or distribution of fentanyl could be enough to warrant second-degree murder charges.

For instance, let’s say your friend asks you to deliver a “package” to someone and tells you it contains their prescription medications. You agree to deliver the package, not knowing that those “medications” are actually pressed pills of fentanyl. You drop off the package and later get arrested on drug charges AND murder charges. Even though you didn’t know the content of the package, you could be held responsible, nonetheless.

You could also face murder and drug charges if you sell fentanyl to someone, a drug crime, but that person then sells the substance to someone else, who ends up dying. Even if you didn’t know the person who fatally overdosed, you could be held responsible regardless.

As you can see, fentanyl is no joke. If you are accused of drug crimes involving fentanyl, you need a lawyer who can fight to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. To learn how we can help you, give us a call at (707) 418-5352!

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