Fentanyl is a drug that almost everyone has heard about by now, not only because of what it does for patients that need pain relief – but for how it is impacting the lives of those who buy drugs on the street.
A man from Colorado Springs was indicted for distributing fentanyl. Through his distribution, at least one death from this dangerous substance occurred. He is facing up to life in prison for the charges against him – something that may surprise people in a state like Colorado, which has decriminalized so many drugs. But it’s a deadly drug with serious consequences.
Here’s what you need to know about possessing and distributing controlled substances such as Fentanyl in Colorado, plus and the penalties that can be faced as a result.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller that is considered widely to be very dangerous due to its potency. It takes just a fraction of the substance to kill a person, and it has been found recently in many street drugs such as heroin, leading to the death of those that use it.
Controlled Substances in Colorado
It is illegal in Colorado to sell, dispense, or manufacture a controlled substance or possess one with intent to sell unless you have legal standing to do so. Controlled substances are divided into different schedules, with Schedule I being the most serious and so on in descending order.
Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug because it has some accepted medical use. However, it has a high potential for abuse. It can result in severe physical and psychosocial dependency if abused. Other drugs on this schedule include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, methamphetamines, and cocaine.
Penalties Under Colorado Law
In Colorado, it’s unlawful to possess any controlled substance like fentanyl knowingly. If you are convicted of possession, then you face penalties such as:
Level I Drug Misdemeanor
If you have four grams or less of Fentanyl, then you can face up to 18 months in jail and be responsible for fines of as much as $5,000.
Level 4 Drug Felony
If you are in possession of more than four grams of Fentanyl, then you face up to 12 months in prison with an additional 12 months on parole after release. You may also be required to pay fines of up to $100,000.
If you are found guilty of dispensing, selling, or manufacturing Fentanyl, then you face a Class 3 felony. It is punishable by as many as 12 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.
It is also against the law to unlawfully use Fentanyl. So, if you are caught using it without a prescription, then you can face the penalties for a level 2 drug misdemeanor. That can send you to jail for one-year maximum and make you responsible for fines of as much as $750.
Defending Against Fentanyl Charges
Drug charges, even in states like Colorado that have more generous drug laws, are serious. That’s why it’s vital to formulate a solid defense in court with the help of an experienced attorney.
The right defense for you depends on the specific circumstances of your case, but some of the most common ones include:
- Unwitting possession – The drugs found in your possession were not yours, and you didn’t know you were in possession of them.
- Drugs discovered illegally – The police didn’t follow the right search and seizure laws in your case.
- You had a prescription – You actually have a prescription for these drugs from your physician.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.