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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Myths About Fentanyl Can Lead To Legal Issues

Myths About Fentanyl Can Lead To Legal Issues


In early April 2024, Florida’s governor signed Senate Bill 718, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who exposes first responders (such as police, firefighters, and EMTs) to fentanyl. If “overdose or serious bodily injury” results, the person can be charged with a second-degree felony. However, toxicologists have reported multiple times that injury due to mere exposure to fentanyl is all but impossible; ergo, the state has now essentially created a bill to penalize a crime which cannot technically be committed.

Overdose By Exposure Is Considered A Myth

Drug crimes are prosecuted aggressively in Florida, both because of the state’s history as a drug mecca and because they are seen as offenses against society. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which has become more and more commonly seen in overdose cases. However, there have also been a number of persistent myths about it which continue to circulate. Perhaps the most common is that of overdose due to mere exposure to skin.

As fentanyl has become more common, particularly mixed in with other street drugs, more and more law enforcement has come in contact with the drug. This has led to alleged “overdoses” after deputies and policemen have experienced seizures and other symptoms originally associated with exposure to fentanyl – but studies and analysis from several reputable outlets have concluded that mere exposure to powder is unbelievably unlikely to lead to overdose, and these symptoms are primarily psychosomatic. Yet the myth persists.

Florida’s Law Poses Problems

Despite the assortment of evidence indicating that mere exposure to fentanyl is insufficient to cause overdose, Florida’s law was passed criminalizing it. Many different activists and other interested parties have pointed out the problematic nature of essentially criminalizing a fable; they point to the law’s requirement of “reckless exposure” and argue that it is simply code for any kind of drug possession – in other words, arguing that since no specific definition exists, that it can be abused to charge people whose offenses may not merit it.

If you are charged with possession of fentanyl, and wind up facing the charge of exposing a first responder to the substance, be aware that since the law is so new, the burden of proof for the state’s attorney is untested. In theory, they could argue that any possession is ‘reckless,’ and there is precedent for this kind of behavior – since the current governor took office in 2019, standards for prosecuting drug offenses have gotten lower, and mandatory minimums for dealers have gotten more stringent – but the state’s fentanyl problem remains.

Call A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney

It remains to be seen as to how Florida’s new law will affect prosecutions going forward. If you are charged with fentanyl possession, it is crucial to enlist a West Palm Beach drug possession attorney to guide you through the legal process. The firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. is ready and willing to try and help you with your case. Call our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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