Drug crimes in Ohio can include a variety of offenses that range from misdemeanors to felony charges. As a result, punishments can vary from minimal sentences and fines to mandatory prison sentences.
Felony drug convictions can also result in a loss of driver’s license, denial of the right to vote, and the inability to maintain or obtain professional positions, such as in the healthcare industry, aviation or in public office positions. Drug offenses can also be charged as federal offenses under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal drug charges usually result in more serious penalties and consequences than Ohio drug charges.
If you’ve been charged with a drug-related offense, you need an attorney who understands exactly what is being alleged in order to provide a proper and aggressive defense strategy. The Wieczorek Law Firm offers a free case review to discuss your case in a confidential setting. Call us today to get started.
How An Experienced Drug Crime Lawyer Can Help
Ohio prosecutors and law enforcement take drug crimes seriously. These cases are often complex and may involve lengthy investigations or witnesses who make deals with drug users to reduce their own charges. Our Ohio criminal defense attorneys can mount a legal strategy that is tailored to your particular case. We can help with every aspect of your case by:
- Conduct an in-depth investigation into your case to uncover crucial evidence
- Interview witnesses who may be able to support your case or challenge the testimony of unreliable witnesses
- Obtain the search warrant used against you and assess it for procedural abnormalities
- Review any video or audio surveillance in your case
- File motions to dismiss charges against you or suppress evidence
- Identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and argue these in court
- Negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecution
- Explore community-based drug treatment programs and rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration
- Give you information about your options at each phase of the case so you can make informed decisions about your case
- Fight to protect your rights and freedom in court
It is never too early to involve an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Drug Charges Overview
Chapter 2925 of the Ohio Revised Code lists multiple elements that may be contained in your drug charge.
These most commonly include: possession, assembly, trafficking, manufacturing, and administration or distribution. The severity of the charge and corresponding penalty is based on the classification of the controlled substance by the Ohio Drug Schedule as well as the amount of the controlled substance in question.
It is imperative your attorney understand the specifics of your case in order to properly understand your charges and create the best defense strategy.
Defense Strategy Against Drug Charges
Our experienced team at the Wieczorek Law Firm understands the specific regulations law enforcement officials must adhere to when arresting an alleged offender. We’ll work with you to identify if those procedures were properly conducted. If they were not, we may be able to reduce your charges, penalties, or both. These factors include:
- How the evidence was obtained
- How lab results and analysis were handled
- The use of illegal forms of surveillance
- Conducting an illegal search
- Search warrants issued without probable cause
- A violation of your Fourth Amendment rights
We can use the facts specific to your case to develop a tailored defense strategy to reduce or eliminate the consequences of conviction.
Understanding How Drug Charges Are Classified
Ohio Revised Code §3719.41 creates five schedules for illegal drugs. The classification of certain controlled substances are ranked according to the severity of the abuse potential and can impact the nature of the charges you may be facing.
This schedule includes controlled substances with the highest potential for abuse and no known or rarely accepted medical purpose including 3 and 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy), substituted cathinones (“bath salts”), heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), phencyclidine (PCP), and psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”).
Schedule II controlled substances have a high potential for abuse, but they may have limited medical applications including Adderall®, cocaine, codeine, gamma-hydroxy-butyric acid (GHB or Date Rape Drug), hydrocodone, methadone, methamphetamines, morphine, opium, oxycodone (OxyContin® or Percocet®), and oxymorphone.
These are controlled substances with lower potential for abuse and may be used for medical purposes including anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), lysergic acid, and testosterone.
These controlled substances have a lower potential for abuse and may be commonly used for medical applications including alprazolam (Xanax®), barbital, diazepam (Valium®), and zolpidem (Ambien®).
Schedule V controlled substances have the least potential for abuse and may be commonly used for medical applications including narcotic drugs containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, not more than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, not more than 100 milligrams of ethylmorphine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, not more than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit, not more than 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, or not more than 0.5 milligram of difenoxin and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit.
Drug Crimes We Defend Clients Against
Our Cincinnati drug crime lawyers are equipped to handle any drug-related crime, no matter how significant. We can take on cases involving any of the following:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance – It is illegal to knowingly obtain or possess a controlled substance in Ohio without a valid prescription for it. It is also illegal to obtain or possess a controlled substance without a license to prescribe it or without being a licensed drug manufacturer.
- Drug manufacturing – Drug manufacturing refers to the manufacture or cultivation of controlled substances. Notably, marijuana and methamphetamine manufacturing and cultivation are regulated separately in Ohio.
- Drug trafficking – Drug trafficking refers to the sale, delivery, transportation, and distribution of controlled substances regulated under state law.
- Aggravated drug trafficking – Aggravated drug trafficking charges can arise when the drugs in question are Schedule I or II controlled substances or there are large quantities of drugs being sold, transported, delivered or distributed.
- Prescription drug crimes – Many prescription drugs are considered controlled substances, but using them is usually legal with a valid prescription. However, obtaining or attempting to obtain such controlled substances without a valid prescription can result in criminal charges. It is also illegal for doctors, pharmacists or others in the medical field to sell drugs in their possession for street use or for medically invalid reasons.
- Drug conspiracy – It is illegal to conspire with one or more other people to commit a crime. You could be charged with drug conspiracy if you agree to sell, transport, manufacture or deliver controlled substances.
- Drug paraphernalia – It is also illegal in Ohio to possess drug abuse instruments, equipment, materials, or products that are intended to cultivate, prepare, ingest or handle drugs.
- Other drug crimes – Ohio has a host of other drug crimes that can be charged based on the circumstances, including deception to obtain a dangerous drug, illegal processing of drug documents, illegal dispensing of drug samples, corrupting another with drugs, permitting drug abuse, illegal administration or distribution of anabolic steroids, illegal manufacture of methamphetamine or marijuana cultivation or illegal assembly for the manufacture of drugs.
The Wieczorek Law Firm is dedicated to providing you with an aggressive defense to any drug charges you are facing. We want to help you avoid serious, life-altering consequences. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.
Potential Penalties For Drug Crimes In Ohio
Drug crimes in Ohio carry stiff penalties. A conviction can result in decades of imprisonment and thousands of dollars of fines. The civil forfeiture process could also result in the loss of property that is even tenuously tied to the drug trade. The potential penalties you face depend on several factors, including your criminal history, the type, quantity and weight of the drug in question, and whether there are any aggravating factors, such as the possession of a firearm when the drug was committed or being within 100 feet of a school, park or other drug-free zone. Although not exhaustive, some of the guidelines for charging drug possession in Ohio according to the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission can be found here.
Some potential penalties for Ohio drug crimes include:
- Possession of a controlled substance – Possession is sometimes charged as a misdemeanor, but it is more often charged as a felony depending on the drug and/or the quantities involved. Possession of Drugs can range from a minor misdemeanor all the way up to a felony of the first degree. In addition, a Major Drug Offender specification can be added based on the total weight of any controlled substance. This is commonly known as an MDO spec.
- Drug manufacturing – Manufacturing a Schedule III, IV, or V drug is charged as a third-degree felony, which carries a potential prison sentence of one to five years and a fine up to $10,000.
- Drug trafficking – Drug trafficking a Schedule I or II drug can carry a potential sentence of up to one year in jail or up to 11 years in prison, depending on which felony grade it is charged under. In addition, once again, a Major Drug Offender specification can be added based on the total weight of any controlled substance.
- Minor misdemeanor: Fines up to $150
- Fourth-degree misdemeanor: Jail time up to 30 days and/or fines not exceeding $250
- Third-degree misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and/or fines up to $500
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Jail sentence of not more than 90 days and/or a fine up to $750
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and/or fines up to $1,000
- Fifth-degree felony: Prison time from six to 12 months and/or fines up to $2,500
- Fourth-degree felony: Prison sentence from six to 18 months and/or fines not more than $5,000
- Third-degree felony: 36 months up to five years prison sentence and/or fines not over $10,000
- Second-degree felony: Sentence ranges from two to eight years in prison and/or fines not exceeding $15,000
- First-degree felony: Ohio prison sentence ranging from three to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000
A criminal defense lawyer will try to shield you from these significant penalties and mount a strong defense on your behalf.
Cincinnati Drug Crime Investigations
Below are some of the tactics used by law enforcement to investigate drug crimes in Ohio.
Methods of Tracking Controlled Substances in the Mail
The United States Postal Service works closely with both local and federal law enforcement to discover, track and deliver suspected illegal drugs being shipped through the U.S. Mail. At many mail facilities throughout Ohio, a trained drug dog is used to “hit on” suspected packages. This hit can be used to establish probable cause for law enforcement to get a warrant to search that package.
Once the warrant is signed by a judge, the USPS inspector can open the package and remove its contents. A sample of the suspected illegal substance is recovered and sent to a lab for an analysis. Once the illegal substances are confirmed, the substance is repackaged and is sent out for a controlled delivery to the recipient. The controlled delivery is witnessed by law enforcement and heavily monitored. Upon delivery and acceptance of the package, the recipient is arrested.
This surveillance method still proves effective. Law enforcement will secretly tape, photograph, and document any and all suspicious activity as it relates to suspected drug crimes. Law enforcement will then have some viable options…including: getting a search warrant for the premises, turning over investigation notes and the file to the prosecuting attorney in order to seek an indictment, or executing an arrest warrant based solely on a complaint using the evidence to establish probable cause for the arrest.
Controlled Telephone Calls and Text Messages
Law enforcement can use a reliable source to conduct a controlled call with a person suspected of committing a drug crime. This typically involves a detective or agent listening is or recording the call. The caller on the other end is usually a trusted individual with the suspect and tries to elicit incriminating evidence and statements from the one under investigation.
Law Enforcement can use confidential informants (CI) to investigate and participate in controlled buys.
The CI may be already charged with a crime or under investigation themself. The individual is approached by law enforcement inquiring as to whether they wish to “work” so they can receive case consideration in their own case. This means that any evidence they solicit out of the suspect can be used to help aid in a reduction of charges or in mitigation at sentence in their own case.
The CI is searched prior to any controlled buy to ensure they are not in possession of any contraband and then are given “buy money” that has been previously photographed by law enforcement. Once the transaction with the suspect is complete, the Ci is searched again and the purchased drugs are recovered and sent to a lab for analysis. In the event the suspect is arrested, the buy money is recovered and reconciled with the buy money the CI used. Many times, a wire or hidden cameras are used to document the entire transaction.
The Ohio Task Force Commanders Association (OTFCA) leads the state’s 27 multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Forces. These agencies serve as investigative extensions of collaborative police departments and sheriff offices. There are multiple task forces set up throughout Southern Ohio. Including RENU and other task forces that are county specific.
Suppression of Evidence in Ohio Drug Crime Cases
A large majority of drug crime defense cases are won or lost in the suppression of evidence hearings. A Motion to Suppress Evidence is one of the most important motions that a criminal defense attorney can file in an Ohio Drug Crime case. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that any evidence obtained through illegal means must be excluded from court as it is deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree”.
Violations of the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. In order for law enforcement to be able to legally search and seize your property, a court must first issue a valid search warrant. In the absence of a warrant, only the following scenarios serve to validate a search:
You consented to the search. The seized evidence was “in plain sight.” The search was incident to a valid arrest in progress. Evidence was discovered and seized after your car was impounded following your arrest.
In Plain Sight
Without a warrant, police are not permitted to go on a fishing expedition through your home or car. They may seize evidence that is readily visible, but they cannot search your trunk, under seats, in the glove box of your car, or in drawers, luggage, containers, etc. in your home.
Incident to Arrest
If police claim they discovered incriminating drug evidence while performing a search incident to an arrest, they may only search certain areas where they believe evidence of the crime exists.
Violations of Fifth Amendment Rights
Under the Fifth Amendment, police officers must read you your Miranda rights before they interrogate you while you are in police custody. This is a two-prong test. These provisions give you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. It is important to always invoke your right to counsel immediately and before answering even the simplest of questions.
In the event you were in custody and not read your rights or were questioned after invoking your right to counsel, you may have the right to have those statements suppressed by the court. This tactic can prove effective in building your defense to limit the amount of evidence against you. In doing so, it may also result in a complete dismissal of your case.
Contact Us Today For Your Free Case Consultation
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Ohio or suspect you are under investigation, do not attempt to navigate the criminal justice system alone. The stakes are too high. The Wieczorek Law Firm can protect your rights and advocate for you. We have extensive experience defending against these types of charges and will work tirelessly to secure a favorable outcome. Call us today for your free case evaluation.