The creation of synthetic opioid drugs has made it cheaper and more cost-effective to manage pain symptoms. Previously, costs and supplies shortages could sometimes leave people without adequate pain management. People would suffer needlessly, and some would have far worse medical outcomes due to the challenges involved in providing pain management.
The mass production of synthetic opioids like fentanyl has made it cheaper and easier to treat the acute or chronic pain of individual patients. Hospitals and pharmacies no longer struggle to keep medication on hand, and the overall costs for pain relief have dropped.
Unfortunately, the improved supply of pain management drugs has also led to increased abuse and medication addiction. Fentanyl plays a role in many overdose deaths. As a result, Texas now has particularly strict penalties for those accused of trafficking or manufacturing fentanyl.
What penalties can the courts now impose?
After Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 768 into law in 2021, the minimum and maximum penalties related to fentanyl manufacturing or sales became far more severe. The goal behind these enhanced penalties is to reduce the spread of fentanyl abuse and overdoses, as they have become a major source of hospitalization and drug-related deaths.
Those accused of manufacturing or delivering between four and 200 grams of fentanyl could serve between 10 years and life in prison. Those accused of manufacturing or trafficking between 200 and 400 grams of fentanyl will face a minimum sentence of 15 years. The minimums sentence increases to 20 years for any amount over 400 grams.
The line between personal use and trafficking is thinner than you think
It is surprisingly easy for law enforcement officers or court officials to erroneously reach the conclusion that the fentanyl in someone’s possession is something they intended to traffic. People develop a tolerance to opioid medications and can sometimes take very large amounts just to manage their pain or avoid withdrawal.
Defense strategies when accused of manufacturing or trafficking might include raising questions about who actually owned and controlled the substances or raising claims about personal use. Some people accused of fentanyl-related crimes might even qualify for adjudication in the drug courts, where they could pursue treatment and potentially address their substance abuse disorder.
Reviewing the possible penalties for the upcoming drug charges against you could help you see the value in assertively defending yourself.