Inverness Man Sentenced To Prison After Selling Counterfeit Drugs
In late August 2021, a man from Inverness, in Citrus County, was sentenced by a federal judge to 3 years in prison after being caught selling significant quantities of counterfeit Xanax on the internet. The man had purchased a pill press to “manufacture” fake Xanax pills, selling almost 250,000 before his arrest. While the case itself is fairly straightforward, the reasoning used to convict the man and his partner might be confusing to the average person. Selling fake drugs is a crime under Florida law, even if it seems counterintuitive to you.
Selling Drugs Is Serious
As one might imagine, selling drugs is very illegal in Florida, with sentences depending on a number of factors, such as the type of drug in question, the amount of the substance that you were stopped with, and whether you actually completed the sale. The amount of the substance in question is arguably the most important, because if you are accused of selling or distributing more than a certain amount of the drug, you may be faced with charges of drug trafficking, which are usually more sincere than charges for possession or possession with intent to sell (POTS). A charge of POTS requires evidence of intent to sell, but charges of drug trafficking do not.
The threshold for trafficking charges varies from drug to drug. For example, if you are arrested with 5 grams of methamphetamine on you, but there is clear evidence of your intent to sell those drugs, you can be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by between 5 and 15 years in jail. If you have 14 grams or more, you are presumed to be engaging in drug trafficking because for methamphetamine, that is a disproportionately high amount for one person to retain and use personally. Intent is irrelevant with regard to possible trafficking charges.
Counterfeit Still Counts
One might imagine that since drug distribution or possession with intent to sell are charges that both require actual evidence of intent to sell illegal drugs, selling counterfeit drugs might get them off the proverbial hook (counterfeit drugs are not truly controlled substances or even usable drugs, after all). In reality, doing so is against both state and federal law. Florida law in particular goes out of its way to criminalize selling any substance that is represented as a drug (even if the substance itself was legal).
There are two major ways that selling fake drugs can be tried in Florida specifically. The first penalizes selling fake illegal drugs which are, in reality, composed of a different illegal substance (for example, MDMA pills that are, in reality, OxyContin). This can be charged as simple counterfeiting. The second holds that selling a legal substance, but informing the buyer it is an illegal substance – such as selling oregano and claiming it to be marijuana – is illegal because it can be seen as a gateway to drug trafficking. Both can cause you serious issues should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
While the Inverness man and his girlfriend do not plan to appeal, as of this writing, their fate should still be seen as a cautionary tale. If you find yourself in a situation where fake drugs are involved, contacting a West Palm Beach drug crimes lawyer at the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can at least help to clarify your rights and responsibilities at a time such as this. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.