Prosecutors in Florida reported on June 11 that a 22-year-old man has been charged with distributing fentanyl resulting in death. Records indicate that the man is the first Hillsborough County resident to face a federal indictment for this crime. He was taken into custody in May after an investigation by detectives assigned to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's Heroin Working Group found evidence allegedly linking him to the overdose death of a Tampa area man in November 2017. The man faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.
Media reports reveal that paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive the overdose victim with Narcan, but they do not reveal what led detectives to conclude that the drugs that killed him had been supplied by the suspect. The man allegedly told the overdose victim that he was selling him heroin, but an autopsy is said to have revealed that the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. Even small doses of fentanyl can be deadly to those who have not developed a tolerance for the drug.
Two other men were taken into custody during the investigation, according to reports. A 33-year-old man, who detectives believe is linked to seven opioid deaths, faces a mandatory life sentence on federal heroin and fentanyl distribution charges. A 27-year-old man could be sentenced to up to 30 years in a federal prison after entering guilty pleas to a raft of drug charges on June 6.
The penalties for serious drug crimes can be severe, and most individuals charged with narcotics trafficking or distribution choose to enter into negotiated plea agreements rather than taking their chances with a jury. When advocating on behalf of their clients during plea discussions, experienced criminal defense attorneys may question the reliability of witnesses who have entered into plea agreements of their own and challenge the legality of police searches. Lawyers could also urge prosecutors to consider leniency by pointing out mitigating factors, such as gainful employment and a supportive family.
Source: The Bradenton Herald, Landmark charges come down for Florida drug dealer in fentanyl death, Samantha Putterman, June 11, 2018