The news has been filled with stories about the increase in fentanyl use. The drug is known for its addictive qualities and people who use it are prone to overdose, become ill and lose their lives. This is a problem in Alabama and across the United States. Still, people who are accused of being involved in its sale and distribution might not necessarily be guilty. The perceived seriousness of the drug is leading to calls for harsher penalties.
Those alleged to be selling fentanyl are a prime target for law enforcement. Investigations are avidly searching for networks that traffic, distribute and sell it. If there is a conviction, there can be major penalties based on the amount. The current laws are serious about addressing drug crimes. If, however, some lawmakers get their way, the consequences for fentanyl are set to get much worse. Those who are confronted with an arrest and charges for fentanyl should be aware of this and know how to construct a viable defense.
What new laws that could be passed to deal with fentanyl?
Two state representatives are preparing new bills for consideration that would worsen the penalties for people who are charged with distributing and trafficking in fentanyl. The new laws would equate the penalties with how much fentanyl was distributed in the state. There are other states that have similar laws, but Alabama’s would be the toughest in the nation with those who have greater than eight grams potentially being sentenced to life in prison.
The justification, according to the lawmakers, is the seriousness of fentanyl and how dangerous it is. Researchers say that deaths linked to fentanyl spiked by 118% in Birmingham alone from 2019 to 2022. If a person who is not a licensed pharmacist sells a pill that results in another person dying, they could be charged with felony manslaughter.
Those who are questioning the wisdom of these harsher penalties say it will penalize people who might not have been aware that fentanyl was in the drugs. Unintentional violations related to fentanyl would be treated with the same severity as those who are involved in the drug trade and sell it.
Fighting back against drug charges requires experienced and aggressive help
Since drug crackdowns are so commonly initiated, it is highly possible that overzealous law enforcement officers, prosecutors and others who pursue criminal convictions will overstep their bounds as part of the investigation. People who had not committed any crimes or were not linked to the alleged acts by clear and convincing evidence could still deal with the potential for a conviction and major consequences. These could be worsened if the new penalties are put into effect as proposed.
An arrest for fentanyl-related charges could happen to anyone. People who are still in college and are looking toward a bright future, those who are employed and established with a family, and older people could all have their lives turned upside down by these accusations. After the arrest, it is vital to consult with experienced criminal defense professionals who understand all aspects of drug charges, give personalized service and work tirelessly to help their clients achieve a positive outcome.