Fentanyl is a relatively new synthetic opioid, and it is responsible for a significant portion of Ohio arrests and drug-related hospitalizations. In the roughly 20 years between 1999 and 2020, the number of overdose deaths in Ohio skyrocketed. They were 327 fatal overdoses in Ohio in 1999, and there were 5,018 in 2020. The population has remained relatively steady during that time.
Fentanyl is responsible for a huge number of those deaths. State agencies rate the drug as seven times more deadly than heroin or cocaine. To address this growing threat, Ohio law enforcement officers strictly enforce controlled substances laws when they catch people with fentanyl.
What are the potential penalties for fentanyl possession?
The amount of fentanyl determines the consequences
Fentanyl possession will usually result in incarceration and a fine after a conviction. The exact penalties depend on the amount of the drug that police officers allegedly find. Currently, fentanyl is a Schedule II substance, meaning people can legally possess it in limited amounts while under the direct care of a physician.
Those without a prescription will face serious penalties depending on the weight of the substance. If they possess less than a bulk amount, which is either less than 10 grams or fewer than 25 doses, they face up to 12 months in prison. Those caught with a bulk amount could serve up to five years in prison.
The greater the weight or number of doses, the more severe the penalties become. Someone caught with 100 times the bulk amount (2,500 doses or a kilogram) will serve a mandatory minimum 11-year sentence. The fines also increase from $2,500 for possession of any amount below that bulk amount threshold and up to $20,000 for those with fifty times or more that limit.
Defense options vary just like the charges
Every situation leading to a fentanyl possession arrest has different elements that contribute to their prosecution. Those circumstances influence the best defense strategy. Someone arrested because the police found drugs in their vehicle could potentially prove that they had no idea those pills were there. Someone arrested while in a public park could challenge the validity of the police interaction.
Mounting a rigorous defense is the only way to avoid the criminal penalties that come from a drug charge.