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Law aims to tackle state drug problem

Florida House Bill 477 aims to strengthen the state's drug trafficking laws by putting certain synthetic drugs on the same level as heroin. The goal is to stop a recent increase in opiod overdoses, and it also provides penalties on drug dealers who sell to those who die of an overdose. The bill, which was passed the House unanimously on April 20, would see dealers charged with first-degree murder in such a scenario.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a 115 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2013 to 2014. Language in the legislation says that it is now a felony to possess more than 10 grams of selected synthetic drugs. It is believed that there would be an increase in the state's prison population as a result. The state also reached a deal with pharmaceutical companies that would make a spray used to revive overdose victims cheaper.

Those who are charged with drug crimes may face serious consequences for their actions. Depending on the charge a person is facing, it may be possible to spend time in jail or prison after a conviction. Other penalties may include a suspended sentence, probation or community service. An attorney may be able to help create a defense to the charge that may result in a plea bargain or an acquittal.

One way to defend against a criminal charge may be to cast doubt on the evidence presented. For instance, an attorney may try to refute expert or other witness testimony or claim that an individual was compelled by authorities or others to sell a drug. Other defenses may include arguing that an individual was not in possession of a controlled substance or had no intent to sell it to minors or anyone else.

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