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Understanding a Fentanyl Drug Charge

By San Diego Attorney on September 22, 2021

Fentanyl is classified as a controlled substance in California. You might be prosecuted for simple possession or possession with the intent to sell, depending on the amount of the substance in your possession.

Keep reading to learn about the charges and ramifications if you have obtained fentanyl without a prescription or have committed prescription fraud.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a substance that is gaining popularity in the media because of its part in the opioid crisis. While fentanyl has a medicinal application as a pain reliever, it is also used recreationally in ways that are addictive and hazardous. Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it quickly builds tolerance and is highly addictive, despite its widespread medical use. Without a legitimately obtained prescription from a licensed medical provider, it is illegal to possess.

How Possession or Intent to Sell Fentanyl Can Result in a Drug Charge

You can face significant legal trouble if you are caught with fentanyl without a prescription for the drug.


Fentanyl possession is unlawful in California, pursuant to California Health and Safety Code section 11350.

While most cases of fentanyl possession are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $20,000 fine, if you have a specified criminal history, you will face felony charges. The following backgrounds are eligible for these felony fentanyl possession offenses: sexual offenses that necessitate registration on a sex offender list, murder, and rape. These felony charges carry a sentence of two to four years in prison as well as a $20,000 fine.

It is worth noting, however, that misdemeanor charges for fentanyl possession can be resolved through the completion of a drug diversion program.

Intent to Sell

If you were found with significant quantities of fentanyl, your sentence would be increased because law enforcement interprets large amounts as evidence that your intention was to sell the drug. Possessing fentanyl with the intent to sell is banned under California Health and Safety Code section 11351, and convictions are punishable under California Penal Code section 1170, which includes jail terms ranging from 16 months to three years.

Diversion programs are not an option since possession with the intent to sell fentanyl is not a crime that revolves around your personal drug usage.

Prescription Drug Fraud Charges

When a patient visits several pharmacies and physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions for a prohibited substance, prescription fraud can occur. Doctor shopping is another term for this. Furthermore, physicians who write unauthorized prescriptions, and in doing so violate California Health and Safety Code section 11153, can be charged with prescription fraud.

Even if you have a prescription, you may find yourself in a risky legal situation in which you must prove that you have a legitimate reason for having fentanyl or face harsh criminal charges. Intent, mental culpability, and the prosecutor being able to prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt are factors that will determine whether or not you will be charged with prescription drug fraud.

Schedule a Consultation With Drug Crimes Defense Attorney James N. Dicks

You will need a highly skilled legal team to represent you if you have been charged with possession or intent to sell fentanyl without a prescription or have committed prescription fraud. James N. Dicks, the founding attorney of jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, has more than 30 years of experience and can provide advice in regard to your criminal charges. To schedule a free consultation, please call (760) 638-5266.

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Posted in: Drug Possession

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