Can A Fentanyl Charge In Utah Be Reduced Or Dismissed?

criminal defense lawyer helping someone charged with a Fentanyl charge in UTAH

31 Jan 2024 /

Can A Fentanyl Charge In Utah Be Reduced Or Dismissed?

Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that has been the cause of many overdose deaths across the United States. As fentanyl use and distribution have grown, states like Utah have cracked down hard on fentanyl crimes with strict penalties. Suppose you or a loved one is facing fentanyl possession, distribution, or trafficking charges in Utah. In that case, it is critical to understand the complex laws around these crimes and to work with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Gravis Law has successfully defended clients against all types of drug charges, including fentanyl offenses, and can advise on possible defenses and strategies to reduce or dismiss potential fentanyl convictions.

Our attorneys at Gravis Law deliver optimal case outcomes for you with the utmost discretion and empathy. With years of experience, we have years of proven outcomes. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation. 

What is Fentanyl? 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It was initially designed for pain management treatment of severe chronic pain or breakthrough cancer pain that cannot be managed well by other types of painkillers. Due to its extreme potency, fentanyl is now one of the most common drugs involved in drug overdoses and deaths across the country. 

The illegal distribution and use of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl has become a significant issue. Illicit fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or fake prescription pills to increase its euphoric effects. This also makes it much more likely to cause accidental overdose due to the user often being unaware of the presence of fentanyl. Just a tiny amount of fentanyl can be lethal, even for those with high opioid tolerances. 

Fentanyl Charges and Penalties in Utah

Utah drug laws are strict around the possession, distribution, trafficking, and manufacture of fentanyl. Charges will depend on the specifics of the alleged crime.

Simple Possession

Simple possession refers to having fentanyl for personal use rather than intent to distribute or sell it. Possession of any measurable amount is a third-degree felony with penalties of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

This charge alleges you possessed fentanyl with plans to sell or share it with others rather than for personal use. Penalties increase to a second-degree felony with 1 to 15 years imprisonment and fines up to $10,000. Mandatory minimum sentences may also apply for higher weights.

Drug Distribution/Trafficking

Distributing or selling fentanyl brings first-degree felony charges in Utah. First offenses at lower weights may bring five years to life in prison. Higher quantities trigger federal charges with mandatory minimums of 10 years or more.

Drug Manufacture

Making or producing fentanyl illegally carries harsh first-degree felony penalties similar to trafficking. Mandatory minimums also come into play at higher weights.

Federal Charges

Large-scale fentanyl crimes over certain thresholds will typically be prosecuted under federal law, which brings lengthy mandatory minimum sentences even for first offenses. 

Are Fentanyl Charges Defensible in Utah?

Yes, defending against fentanyl charges is possible even with Utah’s strict laws. An experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer can review the details of your case to advise on potential defenses that may apply. Having legal representation as early in the process as possible maximizes your chances of charges being reduced or dismissed.

Here are some of the most common defenses Gravis Law would explore for fentanyl cases:

Illegal Search and Seizure

If police did not have reasonable suspicion for the initial stop and search or a valid warrant, any evidence found may be excluded. Other illegal search and seizure technicalities like issues with procedures, warrants, consent, and timing can also invalidate critical evidence.

Insufficient Evidence  

Simply being present near fentanyl is not enough to support a possession conviction. The prosecution must have sufficient evidence you actually and knowingly possessed the fentanyl. An attorney can expose weak spots in evidence and testing procedures. Witness credibility issues can also dismantle the prosecution’s case theory.

No Intent to Distribute

Higher weight does not automatically mean there was intent to sell or distribute fentanyl. Your Utah criminal defense lawyer can argue a lack of evidence of actual intent if other explanations are plausible.

Sentencing Manipulation

Police encouraging or enabling more significant transactions solely to manipulate higher charges with lengthier sentences may backfire. A skilled lawyer can get enhanced charges thrown out if it is clear the investigation went too far to exaggerate penalties unfairly.

Medical Fentanyl vs Illicit Fentanyl

If you had a valid prescription, medical necessity might justify simple possession charges even if quantities were higher. Determining origin and purity differences between medical and street fentanyl sources is also crucial.

Invalid Testing Procedures

Insufficient or unreliable testing processes that do not confirm actual fentanyl presence and weights call into question entire prosecution arguments. Contamination during collection, handling, storage mistakes, expired tests, or poor calculations are vulnerabilities your criminal defense attorney would assess. 

Mistaken Identity

Eyewitness misidentification happens often, and vague descriptions of suspects leave room for plausible arguments that you were mistakenly identified if your resemblance is questionable.

Duress/Coercion  

If threats of harm for non-compliance triggered your otherwise very out-of-character involvement with fentanyl, an affirmative duress defense may defeat charges.

Entrapment

Overzealous undercover operations pressuring or manipulating targets to handle fentanyl when they showed no prior inclination to do so is entrapment, making charges dismissible. 

What Should I Do if Facing Fentanyl Charges in Utah?

If questioned, arrested, or charged with any fentanyl crimes in Utah, it is vital to exercise your rights and get experienced legal help fighting the allegations from the very start. Gravis Law is here 24/7 to assist and provide robust and strategic defense on fentanyl and all types of drug charges. Steps to take immediately include:

Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent always. Be cooperative, but do NOT make any statements to police or investigators without your lawyer present. What you say will be used to build a case against you. Let your attorney handle communications for you.

 

Hire a Lawyer Immediately  

Reach out to Gravis Law instantly for help developing your customized defense strategy, leveraging every avenue to achieve dismissal or reductions. Fentanyl crimes bring hefty penalties that will disrupt families and destroy futures if not battled effectively starting day one. We have successfully defended all degrees of drug charges, from simple possession to trafficking. Know your rights and fight back intelligently with someone in your corner.

Follow Bail/Release Conditions Closely

Most defendants facing fentanyl distribution charges will have bail set. Gravis Law can often negotiate release while the case works through the system. Be sure to strictly adhere to program rules or restrictions to avoid additional charges. 

Stay Clean

Avoid further legal issues or failed drug tests that could impact your case. Proactive rehabilitation efforts strengthen defense arguments as well.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Fentanyl Charges in Utah

  1. Can Any Amount Of Fentanyl Lead To Criminal Charges In Utah?

Yes, possession of any measurable or detectable amount of fentanyl can trigger felony distribution or possession charges carrying years in prison, even without intent to sell under Utah law. 

  1. What Are Common Defenses For Fentanyl Trafficking Charges?

Illegal searches, insufficient evidence, lack of intent, sentencing manipulation, testing issues, and misidentification are commonly used defenses to fight fentanyl trafficking accusations in Utah. An experienced drug crimes lawyer like Gravis Law will explore every avenue to attack the prosecution’s arguments.  

   

  1. Is Fentanyl Possession Treated The Same As Heroin Or Other Drug Possession Charges? 

Legally, fentanyl crimes are treated very similarly to other serious drug offenses in Utah. However, penalties may be somewhat stricter due to growing public pressure, given fentanyl’s heavy involvement in overdose deaths. Politicians face heavy pressure to be very tough on fentanyl laws specifically.

   

  1. Can Charges Be Reduced From Trafficking To Simple Possession If A Large Weight Is For Personal Use?

Yes, but having an attorney argue against the alleged intent to distribute is critical. Personal use defenses can sometimes work for trafficking accusations but face high burdens of proof, and you need solid evidence on your side. 

   

  1. I Was Arrested Just For Being Present Where Fentanyl Was Found. Can Charges Stick?

Mere presence near fentanyl or even other people committing drug crimes does not automatically make you guilty. However, you still face a severe risk that statements, circumstantial evidence, or unreliable witnesses could wrongly convince a jury you were involved. Legal solid advocacy targeting weak evidence or credibility issues is critical.

   

Take Immediate Action If Facing Fentanyl Charges

Fentanyl laws in Utah strictly target possession, distribution, and trafficking crimes, even just involving tiny amounts, with no tolerance for personal use excuses at higher weights. Mandatory minimum sentences also come into play rapidly, removing judicial discretion. Nonetheless, defending these charges is entirely doable with the proper strategic advocacy. 

Gravis Law has successfully beat similar drug allegations through relentless efforts and understands the many complex legal nuances that win.

So move promptly in contacting dedicated criminal lawyers at Gravis Law should you face fentanyl possession or distribution charges. Timely action provides the most significant possibility of constructive resolutions. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation. 

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