Defending Against Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Involving Fentanyl and Other Opioids in Florida

Federal drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl and other opioids have become a pressing concern in Florida. Fentanyl accounted for 9.4% of the 17,520 drug trafficking cases and offenses in the United States. When it comes to drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl and other opioids, the stakes are high.

If you or someone you know is facing federal drug trafficking charges related to fentanyl in Tampa, it is crucial to hire a highly-experienced drug trafficking defense attorney to help you understand the relevant Florida statutes and take immediate action to secure a strong defense.

Understanding the Legislation

In the state of Florida, there are stringent laws and federal statutes in place to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and other opioids. Under Florida law, the illegal trafficking of fentanyl is a felony offense, carrying severe penalties upon conviction. The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act classifies fentanyl as a Schedule I controlled substance, indicating its high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use. The statute defines trafficking as the knowing sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, or possession with the intent to sell, purchase, or distribute a certain quantity of fentanyl or its derivatives. 

Florida Statute §893.135 deals specifically with trafficking in illegal drugs and includes provisions related to fentanyl and other opioids. It outlines various quantities and associated penalties for drug trafficking offenses. For example, trafficking four grams or more of fentanyl is considered a felony and carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years and a fine of up to $50,000.

In addition to state laws, federal statutes, such as the Controlled Substances Act, also criminalize the trafficking of fentanyl and other opioids across state lines. The penalties under federal law can be even more severe, with longer prison sentences and higher fines for those convicted of trafficking large amounts of these substances. When consulting with your Tampa drug defense lawyer, you should also be advised of the federal legislation.

The Controlled Substances Act, enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), classifies fentanyl as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its recognized medical uses but also the high potential for abuse. The law establishes strict penalties for trafficking fentanyl and other opioids, focusing on targeting individuals or organizations involved in the illicit manufacturing, distribution, or possession of these substances. The federal penalties for fentanyl trafficking depend on the quantity involved and the offender’s criminal history. Individuals convicted of trafficking large amounts of fentanyl can face substantial prison sentences, ranging from decades to life imprisonment, along with substantial fines. For example, a first offense, an individual trafficking charge of 200 grams could result in a prison sentence between 5 and 40 years and a fine of up to $5 million.

Your attorney will walk you through the potential consequences that you may be facing due to your charges so that you are aware of the severity of the charge. However, they will also work to build a strong defense strategy.

Possible Defense Strategies Against Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

When facing federal drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl or other opioids, a skilled Tampa drug defense attorney can employ several effective defense strategies. These strategies may include:

Unlawful Search and Seizure: Safeguarding Fourth Amendment Rights

For this strategy, your attorney will challenge the legality of the search and seizure of evidence. Identifying instances where law enforcement violated their clients’ Fourth Amendment rights can lead to the suppression of evidence, significantly weakening the prosecution’s case.

Lack of Knowledge or Intent: Establishing Innocence

With establishing a lack of knowledge or intent, your attorney will demonstrate that the defendant had no knowledge of the presence of fentanyl or other opioids and lacked the intent to distribute or traffic them. Attorneys can argue that their clients were unwittingly in possession of the controlled substances or were wrongly implicated due to circumstantial factors.

Chain of Custody Issues: Questioning the Reliability of Evidence

For a more defensive approach in court, your attorney may thoroughly scrutinize the chain of custody of the seized substances to identify any breaks or lapses. Establishing doubts about the proper handling and documentation of exculpatory evidence can cast suspicion on its reliability, potentially leading to its exclusion from the case.

Entrapment: Exposing Manipulative Tactics

A more aggressive tactic for your Tampa drug defense lawyer to employ is to assert that the defendant was coerced or induced into committing the drug trafficking offense by law enforcement. By demonstrating that their clients were not predisposed to engage in such activities and were instead lured or manipulated, attorneys can present a strong entrapment defense.

Insufficient Evidence: Challenging the Prosecution’s Case

Critically analyze the evidence presented by the prosecution to identify weaknesses, inconsistencies, or gaps that create reasonable doubt. Attorneys must meticulously examine the quality and sufficiency of the evidence, leveraging their expertise to dismantle the prosecution’s case.

What Do I Do If I Have Been Charged With Drug Trafficking?

If you have been charged with drug trafficking, you must immediately seek out professional legal guidance from an experienced drug trafficking defense attorney. The Rickman Law Firm boasts decades of experience in defending individuals unjustly, falsely accused of trafficking.

Understand the Charges

Drug trafficking charges involve the illegal manufacturing, distribution, sale, or transportation of controlled substances. When you are charged with drug trafficking, it means the authorities believe you were involved in a criminal operation related to controlled substances. Take the time to thoroughly understand the specific charges brought against you, the penalties associated with them, and the elements that the prosecution must prove.

Seek Legal Representation

When facing drug trafficking charges, it is crucial to secure the services of an experienced drug trafficking defense attorney. A skilled attorney will guide you through the complex legal process, protect your rights, and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your case. They will review the evidence, investigate any potential violations of your constitutional rights, and advocate on your behalf.

Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

Once you have been charged, it is essential to remember that you have the right to remain silent. Avoid making any statements to the police or other authorities without your attorney present. Anything you say may be used against you, so it is crucial to consult with your attorney before providing any information.

Gather Evidence and Preserve Documentation

Work closely with your attorney to gather any evidence that may support your defense. This may include witness statements, surveillance footage, expert testimony, or other relevant documentation. Preserve any records or communications that may be crucial to your case, such as emails, phone records, or financial statements.


Defending against federal drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl and other opioids in Florida demands an astute understanding of the relevant statutes, comprehensive knowledge of the data on fentanyl usage and drug trafficking, and effective defense strategies. 

If you or someone you know is facing such charges, it is imperative to consult with a reputable drug trafficking defense attorney from Rickman Law Firm who can provide expert legal guidance and fight vigorously to protect your rights and advocate for the best possible outcome. With decades of successful experience in defending federal drug trafficking cases, we are the leading federal trafficking defense firm.

For your free consultation with a Tampa drug defense attorney, fill out our consultation form or call The Rickman Law Firm any time today at 813-999-0502.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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