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The Florida Senate

President Office — Press Release


May 2, 2023

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229

Senate Passes Bill to Crack Down on “Frankenstein” Drug Dealers

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 365, Controlled Substances, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) and in the Florida House by Representative Rachel Plakon (R-Lake Mary). The legislation revises elements of murder offenses, providing criminal penalties for adults who unlawfully distribute specified substances or mixtures that result in an overdose or serious bodily injury of the user. The bill also provides enhanced criminal penalties for repeat offenders and provides that specified people have certain protections from arrest and prosecution.

“The harder we fight to keep our communities safe, the harder dealers work to evade our laws, and that ends today,” said Senator Brodeur. “It’s a long standing law in Florida that if a user dies, the dealers can be charged with murder; if not, it’s attempted murder. This bill adds the attempted part. ”

“For far too long drug dealers have taken advantage of a loophole that literally lets them get away with murder when a user dies with multiple substances in their system,” said Representative Plakon. “With the passing of this bill, Florida is holding dealers accountable for the lives they are destroying.”

“This legislation provides a key to a holistic strategy when it comes to reducing overdoses and fentanyl poisonings, and that is holding drug dealers accountable. The outcome of this law gives those in the criminal justice profession an additional tool that is needed to combat this deadly epidemic,” said Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, of Seminole County. “I want to thank Senator Brodeur and Rep. Plakon for their leadership and hard work in getting this legislation across the finish line. We will undoubtedly save lives in the State of Florida with this legislation.”

CS/CS/HB 365 amends s. 782.04(1)(a)3., F.S., to revise the causation requirement for death caused by the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance to require that such distribution is proven to “have caused, or is proven to have been a substantial factor in producing the death of the user.” “Substantial factor” is defined to mean the “use of the substance or mixture alone is sufficient to cause death, regardless of whether any other substance or mixture used is also sufficient to cause death.” 

The bill creates s. 893.131, F.S., to prohibit a person 18 years of age or older from distributing heroin, alfentanil, carfentanil, fentanyl, sufentanil, fentanyl derivatives, or an analog or mixture containing such substances, when such substances cause or are a substantial factor in causing an injury or overdose to the user. A person commits a violation regardless of whether the distribution is made directly or indirectly through another person to the person who was injured or who overdosed. A violation is punishable as a second degree felony. A second or subsequent conviction is punishable as a first degree felony. 

The administration of medical care by an emergency responder, including, but not limited to, a law enforcement officer, a paramedic, or an emergency medical technician, or the administration of an emergency opioid antagonist by such emergency responder is prima facie evidence that the person receiving medical care was injured or overdosed. 

The bill also amends s. 921.0022(3)(f), F.S., to rank the offense of distributing a controlled substance that results in injury or overdose, a second degree felony, as a Level 6 offense on the offense severity ranking chart. The enhanced penalty for a second conviction for distributing a controlled substance that results in injury or overdose which is a first degree felony is unranked, and as such, the first degree felony defaults to a Level 7 offense.