California residents might be surprised to learn that a federal judge recently sentenced former “American Idol” contestant Antonella Barba to 45 months in prison for the possession and distribution of opioids. The 32-year-old New Jersey native appeared on the series in 2007.
According to media reports, in October 2018, Barba was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, after a police dog indicated the presence of drugs in her rental car. Law enforcement officers searched the vehicle and located a shoe box containing 830.9 grams of a “white, rock-like substance” on the front passenger floor. Tests later determined that the substance was fentanyl.
Apparently, authorities were alerted to the possible presence of drugs in Barba’s car while investigating a California man for suspected cocaine and heroin distribution. Police officers intercepted a phone call between the man and Barba and learned of her involvement. In July, she pleaded guilty to possessing 400 grams or more of fentanyl with the intent to distribute. According to Barba’s friends and family, she had a hard time coping with fame after appearing on the hit television series.
If convicted, defendants arrested on drug charges could be sentenced to years in prison and assessed steep fines. After their release from custody, they will also be left with a permanent criminal record, which can hinder employment and educational opportunities. However, by contacting a criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to avoid some or all of these outcomes. For example, in some cases, an attorney might be able to successfully challenge the prosecution’s case, causing the charges to be dropped. In other cases, it might be possible to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges, which could lead to a lighter sentence.