Penalties for Fentanyl Possession in Utah

Fentanyl use has become a serious epidemic that has hit the country hard, with few places as affected as Utah. For this reason, Utah’s penalties for fentanyl possession are often severe.

In an effort to curb the many deaths associated with fentanyl, the penalties many individuals have faced for possession have altered their lives considerably. To have the best chance of avoiding the worst penalties, we recommend reaching out to our team immediately. The state has begun to understand the substance abuse challenges many defendants face and now has programs that can serve as an alternative to prison. Our attorneys can gather evidence in your case and help determine if these programs would work. If that is not an option, we can try to negotiate your charges down to a lesser degree.

For a free case review, contact our Salt Lake City drug defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.

What Are the Penalties for First-Degree Fentanyl Possession in Utah?

In recent years, the opioid crisis has escalated into a national emergency, with fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, at the forefront of concern because of its extreme potency and high potential for addiction and overdose. Utah, like many other states, has responded to this crisis by enacting stringent laws to curb the possession, distribution, and trafficking of fentanyl that can seriously impact your life. Our West Valley City drug defense attorneys are here to help defend these charges and fight the maximum sentence. However, the courts are taking fentanyl possession very seriously.

According to Utah Code § 58-37-4(2)(b), fentanyl is classified under Utah’s Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule II drug, indicating a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. This classification aligns with the drug’s medical use in pain management but also acknowledges its severe dangerousness when abused.

Possession of fentanyl can easily lead to severe penalties, particularly when the amount possessed indicates an intent to distribute. According to Utah Code § 58-37-8(1), a person convicted of possessing a significant quantity of fentanyl, enough to suggest distribution or trafficking, is guilty of a first-degree felony.

A conviction for a first-degree felony related to fentanyl possession carries a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than five years in prison. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, such as the quantity of fentanyl involved and any prior criminal history, the court might impose significantly longer sentences, including life imprisonment in extreme cases. This is one of the most severe punishments under Utah’s legal system for any drug offense, reflecting the state’s stringent stance on the opioid epidemic.

What Are the Penalties for Second-Degree Fentanyl Possession in Utah?

For second-degree fentanyl possession, the law typically addresses cases where the quantity possessed exceeds personal use thresholds, suggesting an intent to distribute. Being convicted for such an offense is punishable as a second-degree felony.

A second-degree felony in Utah still represents a serious criminal charge. Individuals convicted under this classification face substantial incarceration time alongside hefty fines. The Utah Courts website outlines that second-degree felonies can result in one to 15 years of imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines, not including additional legal fees or court costs.

What Are the Penalties for Third-Degree Fentanyl Possession in Utah?

A third-degree felony charge for fentanyl possession, while not as severe as those above, still represents one of the more serious drug offense charges in Utah. Individuals convicted of a third-degree felony can still face significant penalties, including imprisonment and fines. Specifically, a third-degree felony can result in up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000, not including surcharges and court costs.

Fortunately, Utah has begun to recognize the importance of addressing substance abuse issues underlying many drug offenses, especially fentanyl possession. Eligible individuals might have opportunities to participate in drug court programs or other alternative sentencing arrangements focused on rehabilitation. These programs aim to provide support and resources for overcoming addiction, potentially leading to reduced charges or alternative penalties that emphasize recovery and reintegration into society rather than continued punishment.

Can the Penalties for Fentanyl Possession Be Enhanced in Utah?

Several factors can lead to enhanced penalties for fentanyl possession in Utah, turning a grave situation into one with potentially more severe consequences. The following are common situations in which the court will likely enhance the penalties in the case:

A Higher Quantity is Possessed

The quantity of fentanyl in an individual’s possession at the time of arrest plays a significant role in determining the severity of penalties. Possession of amounts that exceed personal use thresholds can be indicative of intent to distribute, resulting in charges escalating from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute, a first-degree felony with significantly higher penalties.

Proximity to Restricted Areas

Penalties can also be enhanced if the offense occurs within proximity to restricted areas such as schools, parks, or churches. Utah law imposes stricter penalties for drug offenses committed within these zones to protect vulnerable populations from exposure to drug activities.

Prior Criminal History

An individual’s prior criminal history, particularly previous drug offenses, can influence the severity of penalties for fentanyl possession. Repeat offenders will likely face enhanced penalties, including longer prison terms and higher fines, as part of Utah’s efforts to deter recurrent drug-related criminal behavior.

Use of a Firearm During the Crime

The presence of firearms at the time of the offense can significantly enhance the penalties for fentanyl possession. Utah law recognizes the combination of drug offenses and firearms as an aggravating factor, reflecting the increased risk to public safety.

Distribution to Minors

If an individual is found distributing fentanyl to minors, the penalties can be substantially heightened. This enhancement reflects the state’s commitment to protecting minors from the dangers of drug abuse and exploitation.

Are There Alternatives to Punishment for Fentanyl Possession in Utah?

One of the most significant alternatives to traditional punishment in Utah is the drug court program. These courts have helped reduce recidivism and substance abuse among participating offenders by offering a blend of treatment and accountability measures that focus less on punishing the individual.

Participants in the drug court typically undergo comprehensive substance abuse treatment and regular drug testing and are subject to court supervision. However, successful completion of the program will help reduce your charges or even get them dismissed completely.

Another alternative for individuals charged with fentanyl possession is probation coupled with mandatory participation in a substance abuse treatment program. This option allows individuals to remain in their communities under strict supervision while they receive treatment for their substance use disorder.

Conditions of probation typically include regular meetings with a probation officer, drug testing, and adherence to the treatment program. However, failure to comply with these conditions can result in probation being revoked and the original sentence being ordered.

Our Fentanyl Possession Defense Attorneys Can Defend Your Case and Get the Help You Need

Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation with our Park City drug defense lawyers.