Austin Fentanyl Offense Lawyer

Arrested for a Fentanyl Drug Crime? Call (512) 991-0576 for Experienced Defense

Facing a fentanyl charge can profoundly affect every aspect of your life, given the potential consequences of a conviction. You might feel like you're battling against overwhelming odds when dealing with a criminal investigation and facing charges in court. Whether you are accused of committing a state or federal fentanyl crime, you still deserve fair treatment and an outcome that allows you the best chance to move past this experience and continue with your life. Many things can go wrong in a criminal investigation and prosecution.

When you contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our team can explain what constitutes a fentanyl offense on a state and federal level. You’ll get clarification on the possible penalties, the potential defenses to charges, and why you’ll want to have a criminal defense lawyer in your corner if you are under investigation or have been arrested and charged with an offense.

Why Choose Our Fentanyl Defense Attorneys?

The experienced Austin fentanyl charge lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, who can be reached by calling (512) 991-0576 or submitting an online contact form, focus heavily in fentanyl-related crimes and can meticulously review every detail of your case. We can identify significant weaknesses or errors in the actions of the police, investigators, and the prosecution that can bolster your defense. Our criminal defense team gathers all relevant facts and evidence, thoroughly analyzes applicable laws and circumstances, and represent you in negotiations with the government's lawyers and in court. As a citizen of the United States and a resident of Texas, you hold fundamental and undeniable constitutional rights. Our duty is to advocate fiercely on your behalf to protect them during criminal proceedings.

Schedule a consultation with the experienced criminal defense team at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC if you’ve been charged with a fentanyl offense. We are ready to fight for your rights today!

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, much stronger than other opioids like morphine and heroin. It's about 100 times more potent than morphine. Used medically for pain relief, especially after surgeries or for severe chronic pain, it comes in various forms like patches (Duragesic), lozenges (Actiq), and injections (Sublimaze). Fentanyl acts on the brain's opioid receptors, controlling pain and emotions. Users may feel extreme happiness, relaxation, and pain relief. However, it can also cause drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and more severe effects like respiratory problems. Regular use leads to tolerance and dependence, with increased risk of addiction due to its potency.

Fentanyl overdose is a serious risk, particularly with its illicit use. Notably, there were 70,601 deaths in 2021 alone primarily due to fentanyl overdoses. Overdose symptoms include slowed or stopped breathing, leading to hypoxia – a condition where the brain doesn't get enough oxygen. This can result in a coma, brain damage, or death. Naloxone can treat a fentanyl overdose, but due to fentanyl's strength, multiple doses might be needed.

Fentanyl is known by street names such as China Town, China Girl, Tango and Cash, Murder 8, Apache, King Ivory, Friend, Dance Fever, Great Bear, Jackpot, Goodfellas, and He-Man. It's often illegally produced and sold and mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. This mixing increases the risk of overdose since users might be unaware of its presence.

Fentanyl-related substances are drugs that have a similar structure to fentanyl and can include a variety of modifications. Fentanyl-related substances include:

  • Acetyl fentanyl: A fentanyl analog not medically used but encountered in illegal opioid products and known for its high potency.
  • Butyryl fentanyl: Another non-medical analog of fentanyl, found in illicit opioid markets.
  • Furanyl fentanyl: This analog has been associated with numerous overdose cases and is often found mixed with or substituted for heroin in the illicit drug market.
  • Carfentanil: Significantly more potent than fentanyl, carfentanil is used as a tranquilizer for large animals. It is extremely dangerous for human use due to its high potency.
  • 3-Methylfentanyl: One of the most potent fentanyl derivatives, significantly more potent than fentanyl itself and associated with a high risk of overdose.
  • 4-Fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl: An analog of fentanyl with no known legitimate medical use, encountered in the illicit drug market.
  • Valeryl fentanyl: A less common fentanyl analog found in the illicit drug trade.

Fentanyl in the United States mainly comes from China, Mexico, and India. China has been the primary source, but its new regulations may reduce its role. Mexican criminal groups are increasing their fentanyl production, using advanced labs to make and smuggle fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border. India is emerging as a key supplier of fentanyl precursors, with links to Mexican cartels.

If you’ve been arrested or are under investigation for a fentanyl crime, call Cofer & Connelly, PLLC at (512) 991-0576 today to get the experienced criminal defense you need to fight your charges.

Specific Fentanyl Crimes at the State and Federal Level

Possession of Fentanyl (Texas Law)

Fentanyl, as defined in Texas Statutes Section 481.1022, includes not just pure fentanyl but also its derivatives like alpha-methylfentanyl and any other forms it might take. According to Texas Statutes Section 481.115, if you possess fentanyl without a legal reason, like a doctor's prescription, you're breaking the law. The prosecutor in a fentanyl case must show a couple of things to prove you're guilty of possessing fentanyl. First, they have to prove you had the fentanyl. This doesn't just mean it was in your pocket. It could be anywhere you have control over, like your car or your room. Second, they need to show you knew it was there and what it was.

Penalties for Possession of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is classified in Penalty Group 1-B under Texas Controlled Substances Act. The punishment for having fentanyl in Texas depends on how much of the controlled substance you have.

  • State Jail Felony: If you have less than one gram, it's the least serious felony. You could face 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000.
  • 3rd Degree Felony: For having one to four grams, the punishment is 2-10 years behind bars and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • 2nd Degree Felony: If you have four to 200 grams, the penalty increases to 2 to 20 years in prison and the same $10,000 fine.
  • 1st Degree Felony: For 200 to 400 grams, you're looking at 5 to 99 years or even life in prison, with a fine up to $10,000.
  • Life Imprisonment: The most severe punishment is for having more than 400 grams. You could face life or 10 to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.

Fentanyl possession penalties are more severe for those with prior convictions. For example, if you already have a felony offense on your record and you're caught with a small amount of fentanyl, you could face harsher punishments than someone with no criminal record.

Enhanced Penalties for Possessing Fentanyl in a Drug-Free Zone

In Texas, if you're caught with fentanyl in a drug-free zone, the penalties are more severe than in other areas. Drug-free zones include places like schools, day-care centers, playgrounds, youth centers, and institutions of higher education. These zones extend to a specific distance around these locations, often 1,000 feet.

  • State Jail Felony Becomes 3rd Degree Felony: If the basic charge is a state jail felony, it's upgraded to a third-degree felony in a drug-free zone.
  • 3rd Degree Felony Becomes 2nd Degree Felony: If the original charge is a third-degree felony, it's bumped up to a second-degree felony in a drug-free zone.
  • 2nd Degree Felony Becomes 1st Degree Felony: The most significant jump is when a second-degree felony turns into a first-degree felony due to the drug-free zone.

Additionally, Texas law increases the minimum jail time by five years and doubles the maximum fine if the offense occurs in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the premises of a school, youth center, or playground, or on a school bus. Remember, these elevated penalties apply even if you didn't know you were in a drug-free zone.

Manufacturing or Delivering Fentanyl (Texas Law)

Under Texas Statutes Section 481.1123, if you are found making (manufacturing) or providing (delivering) fentanyl to someone else, you could be breaking this law. To be convicted for manufacturing fentanyl, it must be proven that you were involved in creating or producing it. This doesn't just mean making it from scratch; it could also include any step in the process of producing the drug. Regarding delivery: it's not just about handing it over to someone. Delivery can include selling, giving away, or any other form of transferring fentanyl to another person.

Importantly, you don't actually have to be caught in the act of making or delivering fentanyl to be charged. If you're found with fentanyl and it seems clear that you intended to make or give it to someone else, that can be enough. The law uses the term "possesses with intent to deliver," which means just having fentanyl with the plan to make or deliver it can result in a charge.

Penalties for Delivery or Manufacture of Fentanyl

The penalties for manufacturing or delivering fentanyl in Texas vary based on how much of the drug you're caught with.

  • State Jail Felony: If you have less than one gram of fentanyl, it's a state jail felony. You could face 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000.
  • 2nd Degree Felony: For amounts between one gram and less than four grams, the charge is a second-degree felony. This could mean 2 to 20 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
  • 1st Degree Felony: For 4 to less than 200 grams, you could face 10 to 99 years or life imprisonment, and a fine up to $20,000. For 200 to less than 400 grams, the penalty increases to 15 to 99 years or life imprisonment, with a fine up to $200,000. Over 400 grams, and it's 20 to 99 years or life imprisonment, plus a fine up to $500,000.

Similar to possession offenses, if you've been in trouble with the law before, these penalties can get much harsher. For example, a second-degree felony can be bumped up to a first-degree felony if you have a prior felony conviction.

Elevated Penalties for Manufacture or Delivery of Fentanyl Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Under Texas Statutes Section 481.141, if you cause someone to die or suffer serious bodily injury due to your manufacture or distribution of fentanyl, the punishment for your offense will be increased. For instance, if the original charge was a state jail felony, it could be elevated to a third-degree felony, and similarly, a third-degree felony could be raised to a second-degree felony, and so on. It's important to understand that this applies even if the fentanyl was combined with legal drugs or other additives.

Additionally, Texas law says that if your punishment is increased, the court is not allowed to order your sentence to run concurrently with any other sentence you may be serving. This means that sentences for different offenses cannot overlap; each must be served separately, potentially leading to a significantly longer time in custody.

Potential Fentanyl Murder Charges Relating to Fentanyl Poisonings

House Bill 6, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in 2023, marks a significant effort to combat the fentanyl crisis in Texas. Authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf, the bill allows for murder charges against fentanyl manufacturers and dealers in overdose deaths. This law aims to reduce fentanyl's impact by strengthening penalties and supporting law enforcement, including Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and border security.

Fentanyl Possession (Federal Law)

Unlike Texas, which classifies drugs within penalty groups, federal law classifies drugs in schedules. Fentanyl is currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. According to 21 USC § 844, it's illegal for you to have fentanyl unless you got it directly from a healthcare professional doing their job or through other legal means. This means if you have fentanyl and it's not prescribed to you, or you didn't get it in a way the law allows, you're breaking federal law. This federal law also covers the fentanyl-related substances listed above. So, if you have a drug that's chemically similar to fentanyl, it's also considered illegal under this law.

Penalties for Federal Possession of Fentanyl

  • Misdemeanor Possession: If it's your first offense with no prior drug convictions, possession of fentanyl is usually treated as a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty you might face is one year in jail. There's also a minimum fine of $1,000.
  • Felony Possession with Prior Convictions: For a second offense, you could face a minimum of 15 days to a maximum of 2 years in jail. The minimum fine increases to $2,500. For a third or subsequent offense, the jail time ranges from 90 days to 3 years, and the minimum fine is $5,000.

Fentanyl Manufacturing or Distribution (Federal Law)

Dealing fentanyl in Austin

Under 21 USC 841, if you manufacture, distribute, or have the intention to distribute fentanyl, and you don’t have medical authorization for this, you are committing an illegal act.

To get convicted for these offenses, a prosecutor will have to prove that you were aware that the substance was fentanyl (or a substance containing fentanyl) and that you intentionally manufactured or distributed it, or planned to do so. The evidence can include things like how you handled the substance, your communications about it, or the equipment and materials you used. It's not just about being caught with the substance; the prosecutor must demonstrate your intent to manufacture or distribute it.

Penalties for Federal Manufacture or Distribution of Fentanyl

The penalties for manufacturing or distributing fentanyl, or possessing it with intent to do either, depend on the amount of the substance involved and your previous criminal record.

  • Basic Penalties: Generally, the maximum sentence for these crimes is 20 years. However, if the fentanyl you're involved with is part of a large operation (like 40 grams or more of fentanyl, or 100 kilograms or more of marijuana), the penalties get  more severe.
  • Increased Penalties for Larger Amounts: If you're caught with larger amounts, like 400 grams or more of fentanyl, the law requires a minimum of 10 years in jail, and you could face life imprisonment.
  • Prior Convictions: If you have previous convictions for serious drug felonies or violent crimes, the minimum and maximum sentences increase significantly. For example, with one prior conviction, the minimum sentence could be 15 years, and with two, it jumps to 25 years.
  • Death or Serious Injury: If someone dies or suffers serious bodily harm because of the drug you manufactured or distributed, the minimum sentence is 20 years, and you could face life in prison.
  • Special Circumstances: The law also has stricter penalties for distributing drugs to people under 21 years old or near places like schools and playgrounds.

In addition to jail time, you could face huge fines, ranging from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the specifics of your case.

If you’ve been arrested for any of these types of fentanyl crimes, contact our Austin fentanyl defense for experienced representation for both Texas and federal offenses.

Collateral Consequences of a Fentanyl Conviction

hand cuffs and drugs

If you are convicted of fentanyl charges or other serious drug offenses, you may face various long-lasting effects beyond the immediate legal penalties. Employment opportunities can become limited, as many employers hesitate to hire individuals with drug convictions. This can significantly hinder your ability to find work, affecting your financial stability and career prospects. Your housing options may also be affected. Convictions can lead to difficulties in securing housing, as many landlords conduct background checks and may not rent to individuals with drug convictions. Educational opportunities can be impacted as well. You may find it challenging to gain admission to certain educational institutions or to receive financial aid. Furthermore, a conviction can affect personal relationships and social standing, leading to potential isolation and stigma from the community. These consequences can last long after any prison time or probation is served, deeply affecting your life and future opportunities.

Alternatives to Incarceration

If you're facing a fentanyl conviction in Texas, it's important to know that both state and federal levels offer alternatives to incarceration, such as probation, in limited circumstances. In Texas, drug courts are a common alternative. These courts are designed to handle cases involving substance abuse, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment. As part of a drug court program, you would participate in a treatment plan, which typically includes therapy sessions, regular drug testing, and court appearances to monitor your progress. Successful completion of the program could lead to reduced charges or even dismissal of your case.

At the federal level, alternatives are more limited but still exist. For non-violent or first-time offenders, probation or house arrest might be an option. This would allow you to serve your sentence outside of a prison environment under strict conditions. Another possibility is participation in a drug treatment program within the federal prison system. Completion of such a program could potentially lead to an earlier release.

Remember, these alternatives are highly dependent on the specifics of your case and the decisions of the court. It's important to have a clear and open discussion with your lawyer about these possibilities.

Potential Defenses to Fentanyl Charges

There are several defenses that might be available to you in a fentanyl case, depending on the specifics of your situation. It's important to remember that every situation is unique, and a defense strategy should be tailored to fit the details of your case.

Lack of Knowledge

Arguably the most common defense, this is about claiming you didn't know the substance in your possession was fentanyl. Federal law requires that you knowingly possessed the drug, so if you can prove you were unaware, this defense could be relevant.

Unwitting Possession

Similar to lack of knowledge, this defense argues that you might have had fentanyl in your possession without your conscious awareness. For example, someone might have placed it in your belongings without your knowledge.

Lack of Intent

Another defense is asserting that you had no intention to possess, manufacture, distribute, or dispense fentanyl. This can be relevant if you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in a situation you didn't understand or intend to be part of.

Mistaken Identity or False Accusation

Sometimes, you might be misidentified as the person involved in these activities. Providing evidence that you were not involved or were wrongly accused can be a powerful defense.

Duress or Coercion

If you were forced or threatened to participate in the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl, this defense could apply. It must be proven that you acted under a threat of immediate harm or coercion.


If law enforcement officials induced you to commit a crime you would not otherwise have committed, you could argue entrapment. This defense is complex and hinges on proving that the idea and motivation for the crime came from the officers, not you.

Illegal Search and Seizure

If the evidence against you was obtained through a violation of your constitutional rights, such as an unlawful search and seizure, this evidence might be excluded from trial, which could significantly weaken the prosecution's case.


Chain of Custody Issues

If there are problems with how the evidence (like the fentanyl itself) was handled or documented, you might challenge the chain of custody. This can create doubt about the integrity of the evidence.

Medical or Scientific Purpose

If you are authorized by law to possess or handle controlled substances like fentanyl for legitimate medical or scientific purposes, this can be a defense, provided your actions were in line with those purposes.

Overdose Defense

Under Texas Law, there's also a defense if you're the first person to ask for help in a drug overdose situation. For example, under Texas Statutes Section 481.115(g), you have some protection if you're the first to call 911 for a drug overdose, you stay there until help arrives, and you cooperate with the emergency and police. This doesn't work, though, if you were doing something else illegal at the time, like having more drugs than just for personal use, or if you've used this defense before.

Lack of Evidence

Sometimes, the prosecution simply doesn't have enough evidence to prove every aspect of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can't prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, your case could and should be thrown out.

Let our fentanyl offense lawyers in Austin provide the experienced defense you need in order to fight your drug charges. Call (512) 991-0576 or contact us online to get started on your case.

How Are Fentanyl Crimes Investigated

Fentanyl crimes are investigated thoroughly both at the state and federal levels. At the state level, local law enforcement agencies typically lead the investigation. They gather evidence, conduct interviews, and work to understand the scope of the crime and drugs involved. State investigations often focus on possession, distribution, and trafficking within state boundaries. When the case involves larger quantities or crosses state lines, federal agencies like the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) may get involved. Federal investigations usually have more resources and can cover a broader scope, including international trafficking and large-scale distribution networks. Both state and federal investigations use a variety of techniques such as surveillance, undercover operations, and informants to gather information. Coordination between state and federal agencies is common, especially when the investigation uncovers a network that operates beyond a single state's jurisdiction. The goal of these investigations is to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and reduce the availability of fentanyl on the streets.

Criminal Process for Fentanyl Charges

drug dealing in an ally

The criminal process for fentanyl charges differs between state and federal levels. On the state level, charges typically begin with an arrest, followed by a booking process. You will then have an initial court appearance where charges are read, and bail is set. Following this, there may be plea negotiations, pre-trial motions, and a trial. State laws dictate the specific procedures and penalties for fentanyl charges, which can vary significantly.

On the federal level, the process is more standardized across the country. After an arrest, federal authorities conduct an initial hearing where charges are presented and bail is considered. This is followed by an arraignment, where you enter a plea. The federal process also involves discovery, where evidence is exchanged between the defense and prosecution, pre-trial motions, and then the trial. Federal drug charges often carry stricter penalties and mandatory minimum sentences, especially for large quantities of fentanyl or involvement in trafficking operations. It's important to understand that drug crimes are prosecuted aggressively in federal courts, and the process can be more complex compared to state prosecutions.

Role of an Austin Drug Crime Lawyer in Fentanyl Cases

If you're facing a state or federal fentanyl charge, a criminal defense lawyer is your key ally. They're there to make sure your rights are respected and your side of the story is heard. Think of drug crime attorneys as your guide through the legal system, helping you understand what's happening and what your options are. They'll look into every detail of your case, from how the police and prosecutors have acted to the evidence against you. Their job is to find any mistakes or weak points in the case against you and use them to your advantage. They also talk with the government's lawyers on your behalf and stand up for you in court. Your lawyer is committed to getting the best outcome for you, whether that's a fair deal outside of court or fighting for you in a trial. They're there to ensure you're treated fairly and to help you move past this tough time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fentanyl Charges

  • What exactly is fentanyl? Fentanyl is a very strong synthetic opioid, much stronger than heroin or morphine. It's used medically for pain relief but is also illegally produced and sold.
  • How can I be charged with fentanyl possession in Texas? You can be charged if you're found with fentanyl without a legal reason, like a prescription. It's illegal to have it, no matter the amount.
  • What are the penalties for possessing fentanyl in Texas? Penalties vary by the amount. They range from 180 days in jail for small amounts to life imprisonment for large quantities.
  • What is a drug-free zone, and why does it matter? Drug-free zones are areas like schools and playgrounds. Possessing fentanyl in these zones leads to harsher penalties.
  • What does it mean to manufacture or deliver fentanyl? It means making or giving fentanyl to others. Even planning to do so can lead to charges.
  • Can I be charged with murder for fentanyl overdoses in Texas? Yes, under certain conditions, like if someone dies due to the fentanyl you manufactured or sold.
  • How does federal law handle fentanyl possession? It's illegal to have fentanyl unless prescribed. Penalties vary, especially if you have prior convictions.
  • What long-term effects can a fentanyl conviction have on my life? It can limit job, housing, and education opportunities, and affect your personal relationships.
  • Are there alternatives to prison for fentanyl charges? Yes, options like drug courts or probation exist, focusing on rehabilitation.
  • Can a criminal defense lawyer help if I'm charged with a fentanyl offense? Yes, they defend your rights, challenge the case against you, and seek the best outcome for you.

Contact Our Austin Texas Fentanyl Lawyers Today

Facing a fentanyl charge doesn't have to mean facing it alone. Cofer & Connelly, PLLC stands out with a focused expertise in drug crime cases, backed by a deep understanding of both state and federal laws. We bring over 103 years of combined legal experience and a history of handling more than 32,000 criminal cases. Our approach is personalized, as we meticulously review every detail of your case, highlighting errors and weaknesses in the prosecution's strategy. Our commitment goes beyond just legal defense; we advocate for your fundamental rights, ensuring you're treated fairly every step of the way. With a track record of success in and out of the courtroom, we're uniquely positioned to help you get through this nightmare. Don't let a fentanyl charge upend your life.

Contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, at (512) 991-0576 or online for a consultation.

  • "Excellent all around. Highly recommend."
    W. N.
  • "I am eternally grateful for all of the efforts they put in to go above and beyond for everyone they help."
    Former Client
  • "They really listen to and care about their client's needs and consistently fight for the best outcome! I am eternally grateful for all of the effort they put in to go above and beyond for everyone they help."
  • 103 Years of Experience
  • 32,000 Cases
  • 357 Trials

Committed to Excellence


Contact Us Today

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy