Are you facing criminal drug charges in Columbus, Ohio? Don’t underestimate the time and effort the state will put into getting a conviction. Fight back and protect your future by calling the experienced Columbus drug crimes attorney at the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC. We offer a free consultation, so give our Franklin County law firm a call to learn more today.
How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Drug Charges in Columbus?
Drug offenses can be serious in the state of Ohio. If you are taken into custody for possession or manufacture of a controlled substance, you could face significant penalties. For that reason, it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side that understands the intricacies of state drug laws.
When you hire Mr. Owen, our law office will fully investigate your claim as well as any potential defense that can be raised. If possible, we will negotiate a plea deal with the state or provide you with legal advice on other options. Sometimes a case can be simply dismissed or you may be able to attend a diversion program in lieu of jail time and fines. But, we are also prepared to defend you at trial if necessary.
Here’s the bottom line – we’ll do whatever we can to protect you and secure the very best possible outcome in your criminal case. All you have to do is give us a call to get started now.
Overview of Drug Crimes in Columbus, OH
Note that being arrested for a drug crime in Ohio can lead to a range of criminal charges. The less punitive offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors and the more serious crimes are considered felonies.
Possession of Drugs
With that in mind, in Ohio, it is illegal to possess a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance without a valid prescription. The number in the schedule corresponds to how dangerous and addictive the substance is considered to be, with the lower number schedules being deemed to have the highest potential for abuse, and vice versa.
Schedule III drugs: have moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Includes barbituric acid, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV drugs: have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence. Includes depressants like Lorazepam, Valium, and Xanax.
Schedule V drugs: have an even lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs. Includes medications with small levels of narcotics, such as codeine or opium.
Aggravated Possession of Drugs
Now, if the drugs are classified as either Schedule I or Schedule II, the offense bumps up to aggravated possession. Again, this is based on the perceived potential for abuse with these substances.
Schedule I drugs: have no currently accepted medical use and high abuse potential. Includes narcotic opiates and hallucinogens.
Schedule II drugs: have a high potential for abuse with use possibly leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Includes opiates, cocaine, and Adderall.
Possession of Marijuana
Keep in mind that crimes involving marijuana are prosecuted differently than other drug offenses. Also, be aware that medicinal marijuana use is legal in the state.
That being said, while it is still illegal to possess marijuana in Ohio without a valid medical license, the crime has been somewhat decriminalized over the last few years. Specifically, if you are caught with under 100 grams of the substance, this is considered a minor misdemeanor. It is punished with a fine of $150 and no jail time.
However, possessing large amounts of marijuana is punished more severely. For example, if you are found with over 40,000 grams, this is considered a second-degree felony. It results in up to $20,000 in fines and a maximum of 8 years in prison.
Drug Cultivation or Manufacturing
In addition to possession, it is also illegal in Ohio to knowingly cultivate or manufacture an illegal substance. Note that there are different penalties that apply depending on whether the crime involves marijuana or another scheduled drug. For example, like possession, the cultivation of fewer than 100 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor and is punished by up to $150 in fines.
By contrast, manufacturing a Schedule I or II substance in the presence of a minor is a first-degree felony. This comes with a prison term of between 3 and 10 years, and up to $20,000 in fines.
Corrupting Another with Drugs
Note that it is also illegal in Ohio to administer illegal drugs to another person. While this includes the use of force, threat, or deceptive means to get someone to ingest the substance, it also applies if you give drugs to a minor, provided that you are at least two years older than the child.
Likewise, giving scheduled drugs to a pregnant woman is also a crime, so long as you knew she was pregnant. However, keep in mind that this offense does not apply to legal drug manufacturers, pharmacies, and health professionals.
Use or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
You can also face criminal penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia in Ohio. Paraphernalia refers to any equipment or material intended for the manufacturing, cultivating, concealing, or injecting of illegal drugs.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is generally a misdemeanor. It is punished with a maximum jail sentence up to 30 days and fines of up to $250
What Are the Penalties For Drug Crimes in Ohio?
As you can see, the types of drug crimes and penalties associated with them vary considerably and depend largely on how the drug is scheduled, as well as the underlying offense (such as possession or manufacture). It is also important to consider the quantity the person had when he or she was arrested.
Bulk Quantities Lead to Aggravated Penalties
When it comes to volume, the law looks at whether the amount seized was above or below what is referred to as the “bulk amount.” While the bulk amount varies between substances, it is a certain range of between 5 and 30 (depending on the drug) multiplied with the “maximum daily dose.” The maximum daily dose is an amount specified for the drug in the standard pharmaceutical reference manual.
Now, possession of less than a bulk amount is typically a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. This is punished by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
However, possession of the bulk amount or more is considered a fourth-degree felony. This can result in a minimum prison sentence of 9 months and fines of up to $5,000. Keep in mind that penalties for these offenses may also include driver’s license suspension and/or probation.
Alternative Penalties for Drug Charges
While the penalties for drug crimes can be severe, there may be alternatives available to you.
Intervention in Lieu of Conviction
One option is known as intervention in lieu of conviction. In this case, you would complete a court-ordered treatment program in order to have your charges dismissed.
Intervention is typically used for marijuana offenses, fifth-degree felony possession charges, and crimes involving the use or possession of drug paraphernalia. However, this alternative is not available for the following offenses:
- Corrupting another with drugs
- Administration of anabolic steroids
- Drug trafficking, or
- First-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony possession charges.
Note that it is also not an option for repeat offenders. Further, the offender is required to admit his or her guilt for the crime. Once the treatment program is complete, the charges will be dismissed and the offender’s records can be sealed. This means that they won’t show up on background checks.
Another option is what is known as the pre-trial diversion program. This may be offered by the prosecuting attorney if it is likely that the person will probably not offend again. Like the intervention option, this is not available for repeat offenders or those that have committed the crimes listed above.
To successfully complete the diversion program, you must follow the conditions set by the court. These typically include:
- Paying a fine
- Participating in a drug use program
- Submitting to random drug testing, and
- Avoiding committing any other crimes.
Diversion typically lasts for up to one year. Once this period has passed and the person has completed the program without breaking any other laws, his or her charge will be dismissed and records sealed.
Defending Against Drug Charges in Columbus
Now, building a solid defense to a drug crime requires significant experience and legal expertise. As part of our representation, we will investigate your case and pursue all possible defenses available to you, such as:
Constitutional defenses: including illegal search and seizures where law enforcement had no warrant or probable cause.
Possession defenses: including situations where you did not know what the drug was, or the drug was not in your possession, or you did not intend to have it in your possession.
Mistake of fact defenses: including arrests based on a drug that was not actually illegal.
There are also what are known as “affirmative defenses” that may apply in your case. Raising these defenses would be proper if you were legally allowed to possess a scheduled substance and you were arrested anyway. For example, if you had a valid prescription for Xanax or Adderall, you could not be prosecuted for being in illegal possession of the drug. The same would also apply to being charged with possession of marijuana if you had been issued a medical marijuana license.
Contact Our Columbus Drug Crime Attorneys Today
As you can see, drug charges are not something to take lightly. They may result in hefty fines and jail time and can leave you with a criminal record. For these reasons, you want an experienced drug crime attorney on your side. Call the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC today for a free consultation. Our skilled Columbus drug crime attorneys can get to work on your case right away.