What Happens if You’re Arrested with Fentanyl-Laced Pills in Pennsylvania?
While heroin was once the most prevalent drug in Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers say fentanyl use has surged.
This synthetic opioid is more potent than heroin and causes more than 15 overdose deaths per day in the state, according to PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The dangers of this drug, along with increased availability, make it a significant concern for state policymakers.
How Prevalent is Fentanyl in PA?
In the past few years, fentanyl has risen in popularity with drug users and their dealers. AG Shapiro stated in a special report, “Fentanyl has rapidly replaced heroin as the dominant opioid in Pennsylvania. Last year, our Bureau of Narcotics Investigation seized more fentanyl than the last four years combined.”
Since 2017, Pennsylvania law enforcement has arrested more than 8,100 drug dealers and traffickers. They have confiscated approximately 5.65 million doses of fentanyl.
About 20% of fentanyl seizures are in pill or tablet form. The pills can have anywhere from .02 to 5.1 milligrams of fentanyl. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) indicated that a lethal dose of fentanyl could be as little as two milligrams.
What are Fentanyl-Laced Counterfeit Pills?
Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance Act, the same level as cocaine, Adderall, and oxycodone. This indicates that it has medicinal purposes, but there is a high level of abuse as a recreational drug.
Fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills are manufactured to look like other types of drugs. Because powdered fentanyl resembles many other drugs, it is often mixed with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription opioids. The powdered substance can also be used to produce fentanyl laced weed. These drugs are hazardous when users do not know they are laced with fentanyl.
The DEA has images of real vs. fentanyl-laced pills, including commonly counterfeited drugs, such as:
There are slight differences between authentic pills and fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills. It is nearly impossible for an average person to tell the difference.
What Happens If You’re Arrested with Counterfeit Pills?
The Pennsylvania AG has come down on people caught with any amount of fentanyl, even counterfeit pills. If they prove that you possessed fentanyl, you will face time in prison and a significant fine.
Penalties for Any Amount of Fentanyl Possession
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 8 amended Title 18 Section 7508(b) and (d), which applies to fentanyl possession.
Any person in possession of a compound or mixture containing 1.0 gram or less of fentanyl or a fentanyl derivative, compound, or analog faces at least two years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
If the person is convicted of drug trafficking, they will face 36 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. The penalties significantly increase if the offense involves more than 10 grams of fentanyl.
Defenses to Counterfeit Pill Possession
Because the state is so strict about fentanyl possession, it is difficult to defend against possession charges. However, some defenses you could assert include:
- Mistaken Identity – The police arrested the wrong person.
- Not Your Drugs – The drugs seized by the police did not belong to you.
- Illegal Traffic Stop – The police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
- Unlawful Search and Seizure – The police did not have probable cause to search you or your property.
- Unlawfully Obtained Evidence – The police did not lawfully obtain evidence, and it should be excluded from the case.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
When facing fentanyl drug charges, an attorney can help you move through the legal process and protect your rights. Your lawyer will understand the law and how to use evidence to support your case. By working with an experienced legal representative, you will have a better chance of getting your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Contact a Drug Possession Lawyer Today
The legal team at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, is ready to take your case. We will listen to your story and help you make a reasonable decision about your next steps. We will be by your side whether you decide to take a plea bargain or take the case to trial.
Call us today at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation of your case.