The Stakes Are High for Drug Offenders in Ohio
A drug crime charge can threaten your freedom, personal life, and professional image. A lot is running through your mind: Will I go to jail? Will I lose my license? How will this affect my career?
Drug crimes carry penalties ranging from 180 days in jail up to 11 years in prison depending on the type and quantity of substance.
But these penalties are not a sure thing, and you don’t have to face this alone. A Columbus drug crimes lawyer from Joslyn Law Firm can strategize a winning defense, and we’re prepared to defend you.
We have represented over 20,000 criminal defense cases, including drug possession, which is the willful possession of illegal drugs and can involve actual possession or constructive possession, and drug trafficking, which refers to selling or offering to sell controlled substances. We also represent federal drug crime cases.
Over 10 Years Defending Drug Crime Cases Like Yours
Joslyn Law Firm has spent more than 10 years defending Ohioans charged with crimes – white-collar professionals, students, athletes, celebrities – and we have been recognized for our victories in criminal cases:
- Top Criminal Lawyer by Columbus CEO Magazine
- Top 100 Trial Attorneys by The National Trial Lawyers Association
- 10 Best Criminal Defense Firms in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys
Our success helping those facing the extensive penalties associated with a drug crime in Columbus and our familiarity with Ohio drug laws informs how we approach your defense, which will depend on the circumstances of your arrest and the charges against you. Some defenses that might apply are:
- Unlawful search of your home or vehicle
- Illegal traffic stop
- Drugs did not belong to you
- Illegal drug stings
- Chain of custody issues
- Invalid lab results
- Medical exception for marijuana possession
- Drug was not a controlled substance
Many other defenses might apply to your case. Just because you were charged with a crime does not mean you will go to jail or face other penalties. Our attorneys will fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced and/or lower the penalties and avoid jail time.
Learn how we can help you fight a drug crime in Columbus. Call to request a free and confidential consultation with a drug crimes attorney.
Ohio Drug Crimes Information Center
- Ohio Drug Crimes Overview
- Drug Crimes Definitions
- Ohio Controlled Substance Schedules
- Common Drug Crimes in Ohio
- Defenses to Drug Crimes in Ohio
- Ohio Penalties for Drug Crime Offenses
- Collateral Consequences of Drug Crime Convictions in Ohio
- Columbus Drug Crime Investigations
- Evidence in Drug Crime Cases
- Suppression of Evidence in Ohio Drug Crime Cases
- Ohio Court process in Drug Crime Cases
- Special Investigators and Prosecutors for Columbus Drug Crime Charges
- Drug Crime Resources
- Notable Ohio Drug Crime Cases
- Columbus Drug Treatment Centers
- Related Drug News and Crime
- Drug Crimes Q&As
Ohio Drug Crimes Overview
A fierce drug epidemic has a stranglehold on Ohio, and the state is fighting to break the grip with every tool at its disposal. If you were arrested for drug crimes in the state, you will stand face-to-face with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges who mean business when it comes to their handling of drug offenses.
Understanding this aggressive shift in reprioritizing the state’s drug problem is key to anticipating the tough road that lies ahead for you, whether you stand accused of possession, cultivating, manufacturing, trafficking, or distribution of illicit drugs in Ohio.
Where Ohio Stands in the Drug Epidemic
The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), published the 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), a data-packed study that tells the tale of how various states throughout the country are faring in the current drug epidemic. Ohio’s story is one of the most daunting of all 50 states, consistently making lists of the “top five” states with various drug-related problems in the country.
Heroin – The study revealed that Ohio ranks in the top four states for heroin-related deaths, and the number of these deaths is increasing. The age-adjusted rate of such deaths in the state climbed to 13.5 (per 100,000 people), topped by only Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
Opioids – Fentanyl, a popular synthetic opioid, shows up in Ohio and five other states as the dangerous cocktail called “gray death,” which mixes fentanyl, heroin, carfentanil, and U-47700. Because the drug can become airborne in powder form, police avoid field-testing the substance, and they wear protective gear when handling it. Ohio was found to be the state most affected by illicit fentanyl, in connection with its high rate of white powder heroin. Ohio also takes a spot in the top three states for fentanyl overdoses. Furthermore, the state reported the highest number of heroin, fentanyl, and combined oxycodone and hydrocodone reports.
Cocaine – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Ohio also ranked among the top five states in the country for cocaine-related deaths. The state’s alarming cocaine use also makes it a natural breeding ground for labs that mix cocaine with synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Drug-Related Burglaries and Robberies – The state decided it needs to put a stop to abuse and overdoses associated with opioids. As such, they put in place a range of regulations that reduces the availability of prescription opioids. Accordingly, the street price has increased, making dealing with these substances even more lucrative. Pharmacy burglaries have grown in number to accommodate the market—further deepening the collateral social damage.
Drug Gangs – Gangs are often involved in the coordination and execution of the drug supply. When Detroit cracked down on its drug gangs in 2017, many gang members packed up and moved to Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky to continue manufacturing, selling, and trafficking their narcotics.
How Ohio Is Attacking its Drug Epidemic
The residents, law enforcement, prosecutors, and legislators in Ohio have had enough of the dubious, drug-related distinction the state continues to earn. Changes are happening, and they are happening fast. According to The Columbus Dispatch, 5,609 drug offenders were committed to Ohio state prisons in 2016 alone. Furthermore, Ohio prosecutors and police are implementing harsher penalties against narcotics dealers whose product causes the purchaser’s death.
Tracking Doctor Shoppers
Although opioid overdoses dropped by almost 50 percent between 2010 and 2018, the state wants to keep that downward trend moving in the same direction. To keep tabs on these drugs, Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) relays daily information on every outpatient prescription of controlled substances and some non-controlled drugs, such as gabapentin and naltrexone, according to a report from MSNBC 21 WFMJ. This data helps pharmacies identify “doctor shoppers,” people who fraudulently obtain controlled substances from several doctors.
First-time offenders of doctor shopping may possibly see reduced sentencing such as rehabilitation, but most of the time, the punishment includes a hefty fee of thousands of dollars and several years in prison.
Following the Money
Ohio drug crime investigators also know that the drug industry has started using Bitcoin and other virtual currencies to transfer their proceeds more securely. Prosecutors are well ahead of the game with identifying these transactions and using them to prosecute charged offenders. Of course, they still monitor the traditional modes of transportation (commercial airlines, personal vehicles, and bus and train terminals) that tend to yield bulk cash seizures, as well as laundering destinations, like the local casinos that Central Ohio traffickers use.
Supporting Tough Penalties
Public opinion is driving legislators’ emboldened attack on Ohio’s drug epidemic. In November 2018, voters knocked down a statewide referendum that would have softened penalties for certain types of drug offenders—with 63 percent of voters rejecting the move, according to the National Police Support Fund.
In November 2019, the Ohio Supreme Court rendered its decision regarding two conflicting Ohio statutes related to sentencing for repeat offenses of methamphetamine (meth) manufacturing, a third-degree felony. In one statute, a mandatory five-year prison term is imposed for the offense, while another statute caps sentences for most third-degree felonies at three years. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the five-year sentence takes precedence, and they applied it to the defendant in this case.
In 2019, Ohio Senate Bill 3 (SB3) addressed the need to toughen penalties for drug traffickers and called for modification of how the state defines “possession” versusvs trafficking. Senators pushed for trafficking to be established strictly by the amount of drug a person has in their possession, regardless of whether the drug was sold or how it was prepared or packaged for sale. While Ohio had by this time seen a decline in opioid prescriptions, heroin problems persisted, as did high- grade marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, and fentanyl. In May of 2020, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill setting tougher penalties for individuals convicted of selling drugs near drug-treatment facilities, according to reports from Cleveland.com.
Funding Drug Task Forces
While SB3 has yet to be passed into state law, in February 2020, $5 million in state funding was awarded to more than two dozen anti-drug task forces throughout Ohio in February 2020. The funds have been earmarked to capture high-level drug traffickers, as well as other statewide drug-curbing initiatives.
Across the board, law enforcement, courts of law, and state legislators are showing a renewed commitment to eliminating Ohio’s drug problem. This means that more than ever, drug crime offenders should be knowledgeable about the offenses with which they are charged, possible defense options, and above all else, their rights in the criminal justice system.
More Information About Drug Crimes in Ohio
Drug Crime Definitions
Ohio Revised Code § 2925.01 defines the various drug offenses recognized by the state. We shall review some of the definitions associated with these offenses here.
- Administer: The immediate dispensing of a drug to a human or animal. This includes administration through inhaling, injecting, eating, or any others ways the drug could be applied.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): The agency of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for administering federal law related to drug trafficking and distribution.
- Controlled substance: Any drug, substance, compound, preparation, or mixture mentioned in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V. These substances include but are not limited to Ecstasy; heroin; marijuana; LSD; peyote; cocaine; morphine; Vicodin, hydromorphone (Dilaudid); oxycodone, meperidine (Demerol); methadone; Adderall, anabolic steroids; Xanax; Valium; etc.
- Cultivation: Planting, fertilizing, watering, or tilling.
- Dangerous drug: A drug that needs to have a label indicating that federal law will not allow the drug to be dispensed without a prescription, is only allowed to be used on an order by a licensed veterinarian, or similar verbiage restricting dispensation of the substance. The term refers to any drug that needs to be injected into the body, is made from biological origin, or contains any controlled substance from Schedule V.
- Dispense: To deliver, give, exchange, pass on, or get rid of.
- Distribute: To deliver, deal, transfer, transport, or ship a drug, excluding the dispensing or administering of the drug.
- Drug: A substance defined within the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and National Formulary and which is used to treat, prevent, cure, mitigate, or diagnose a disease. This includes any substance that affects how the bodies of humans or animals work or how they are structured.
- Drug abuse offense or felony drug abuse offense: Any kind of offense or drug abuse that violates state or federal law. This may include shipping, trading, dispensing, administering, transferring, holding, manufacturing, or any kind of dealing with a controlled substance.
- Hypodermic: Hypodermic needles are used to inject medicine into the body anywhere below the skin..
- Manufacturer: A person who makes or produces controlled substances.
- Marijuana: Every section of a plant in the Cannabis genus, excluding mature stalks of the plant or any type of construction of the plant that is not extracted resin.
- Narcotic drugs: Opium, amidone, ketobemidone, cocoa leaves, isonipecaine, isoamidone, and every material that’s chemically similar.
- Pharmacist: An individual who is licensed under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4729 to engage in the practice of pharmacy.
- Trafficking: The process of selling or offering to sell a controlled substance or the preparation of such a substance for shipping, transport, delivery, or distribution, knowing that the substance will likely be sold or resold to another person.
- Sale: Delivery, barter, transfer, exchange, offer, or gift (or offer of the same), as well as the related transaction, made by an individual (such as a proprietor, principal, servant, agent, employee, or servant).
- “Schedule I,” “Schedule II,” “Schedule III,” “Schedule IV,” and “Schedule V”: Drug classifications as established under Section 3719.41 of the Ohio Revised Code, as amended in Section 3719.43 or 3719.44 of the Revised Code, or as specified by emergency rule under Section 3719.45 of the Revised Code.
Wholesaler: A person who, on official written orders other than prescriptions, supplies controlled substances that the person has not manufactured, produced, or prepared personally. This includes a “wholesale distributor of dangerous drugs” as defined in Section 4729.01 of the Revised Code.
Ohio Controlled Substance Schedules
Ohio Rev. Code § 3719.41 classifies controlled substances into five categories, or “schedules.” The schedules progress from I to V, with drugs falling into the category that matches its risk level relative to its medical function. The higher the schedule number, the greater the risk associated with the drugs assigned to that schedule, and the lower the medical value, in terms of each drug’s function.
The responsibility for removing drugs from a controlled substance schedule falls upon the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. This agency makes its schedule-related determinations with consideration of federal drug abuse control laws.
More specifically, drugs are considered for the following characteristics when determining into which schedule they fall:
- Risk for abuse
- Severity of abuse, in a historical reference
- Potential for addiction
- Danger or risk to public health
- Pharmacological effects
- How much is scientifically known about the drug
- The drug’s potential use in the manufacture of other illegal substances
Ohio’s Controlled Substance Schedule
This includes substances like marijuana, mescaline, morphine, and peyote which promote a high risk of abuse. They serve no valid medical purpose.
Oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamines, fentanyl, Vicodin, methadone, and Ritalin are Schedule II substances, which have a high potential for abuse and severe physical or psychological dependence, but also have some medically valid purposes in the U.S.
This includes substances like testosterone, Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids that run a low- to- moderate risk of abuse and the same potential for dependence as Schedule II, but that serve valid, medical needs in the U.S.
This refers to substances like Ambien, Darvon, Tramadol, Ambien Soma, Talwin, and Darvocet that have a lower possibility for abuse and dependence and are known to serve a medical purpose.
This includes substances like Lyrica, Parepectolin, Robitussin AC, Motofen, Lomotil, anti- diarrheal, analgesic, and antitussive drugs that carry almost no risk for abuse or dependence, contain limited narcotic ingredients, and have known medical purposes.
Common Drug Crimes in Ohio
- In general terms, drug crimes are defined under a wide range of federal and state laws. Although convictions for federal crimes typically come with longer sentences, a conviction for any type of drug crime can stay on your permanent record and should be taken seriously.The extent of drug crimes defined in both state and federal laws is far beyond the scope of this page, but the following descriptions offer a broad-brush overview of the common drug crimes seen in Ohio, as defined in Chapter 2925 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Illegal Manufacture of Drugs – Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.04:
This refers to the intentional preparation, manufacture, or cultivation of a controlled substance through planting, growing, producing, prepping, harvesting, advertising, chemically combining, mixing, wrapping, or any other actions that help to facilitate the production of a drug. Depending on the type and amount of drug and whether the offense occurred near minors or school property, this offense can be a felony of the third, second, or first degree.
Possession of a Controlled Substance – Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.04:
This means knowing possessing, using, or obtaining a controlled substance. This offense can be a misdemeanor of the first degree or felony of the fifth, fourth, third, second, or first degree, depending on the type and amount of drug and whether the offense occurred near minors or school property. If the offense is a certain controlled substance in Schedule I or II, it is Aggravated Possession of Drugs.
Trafficking in Drugs – Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.03
This refers to the selling or proposing to sell controlled substances, which could include the act of preparing to distribute, transfer, send, supply, or in any way provide another party with a controlled substance through the sale. This offense can be a felony of the fifth, fourth, third, second, or first degree, depending on the type and amount of drug and whether the offense occurred near minors or school property. If the offense is a certain controlled substance in Schedule I or II, it is Aggravated Trafficking in Drugs.
Possession of Paraphernalia / Drug Abuse Instruments – Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.12
This refers to the possession or use of any device primarily intended to use or administer or prepare for use of a dangerous drug. Examples can include hypodermics, syringes, papers, needles, plastic bags, cutting devices, spoons, razors, etc. This offense can be a misdemeanor of the first or second degree. Other types of drug crimes include:
Defenses to Drug Crimes in Ohio
A drug crimes lawyer can draw from several defense strategies to fight your drug crimes charge. The appropriate defense depends on the circumstances of your case. Your attorney will analyze the police report, talk to you and other witnesses, and review other key pieces of evidence to determine the defense that will be most effective in your case.
Some possible defenses against a drug charge include the following:
Unlawful Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, as defined by law. In the spirit of honoring this fundamental right, the government must weigh its concern for public safety against a person’s right to privacy.
Because of its tie to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, a defense based on unlawful search and seizure can form a compelling case for the defense. If your lawyer can convince the court that police found the drugs in your possession via an unreasonable search and seizure, the court will not allow the prosecutor to admit the drugs into evidence. From here, the court will likely dismiss the possession charge against you.
Searching Your Home
The location where the search and seizure occurred plays a significant role in the degree to which it is deemed lawful. When a police officer searches an individual’s home without a warrant, for example, this is generally regarded as “presumptively unreasonable” and therefore illegal. To conduct a legal home search, police must be given consent to search the property, they have probable cause to search, the search occurs in the process of a lawful arrest, or the items discovered were in “plain view.”
In a drug possession case, plain view means that the drugs must be out in the open and clearly visible. Drugs tucked away in a drawer, stashed in a coffee can, or hidden under a mattress would not meet this requirement. Furthermore, investigators may not violate your privacy or trespass to get a better view of the drugs. This means that investigators cannot set up surveillance of your home or implement wiretapping without a warrant.
Searching Your Car
The same principles hold true regarding searches of a motor vehicle. Police must have probable cause to believe they will find drugs in your car before they can lawfully search it. Without probable cause, only drugs that are in plain view can be seized as evidence of your possession charge. If police pull you over for a valid cause and they spot a bag of cocaine on your dashboard, this would be considered plain view, and the evidence is admissible. However, if the officer reaches in the car, pops open your glove box, and finds the drugs, they are not the fruit of a lawful search and seizure.
Furthermore, although states can implement sobriety checkpoints, the government is not permitted to use such a checkpoint effort for the primary objective of discovering illegal narcotics.
There are other situations where a search may be legal under certain conditions, but unlawful under others. For example, police can have a drug canine sniff the outside perimeter of your car during a legal traffic stop, but random searches by a narcotics detection dog are not permitted. For that matter, a legal traffic stop does entitle police to pat you down, whether you are the driver or a passenger, during the course of a lawful traffic stop. Law enforcement does not need to believe you were involved in criminal activity to conduct such a search.
This raises the question of what constitutes a legal traffic stop. If the police have reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation happened or that a crime is taking place, they can legally stop you. Specialized law enforcement may not require reasonable suspicion to justify a stop. At international borders, officers are permitted to perform routine stops and searches, and during the investigation of a recent crime on the road you were traveling, you may volunteer to cooperate by allowing a search of your vehicle.
If police officers induce you to commit a crime you would not otherwise commit, including possession of a controlled substance, your lawyer can present an entrapment defense in court. If they argue this defense successfully, you may be acquitted of the possession charges against you. This line of defense can get rather sticky, and you will want a lawyer who is able to identify the very fine line between what police can and cannot do in the course of their work—and prove that they crossed this line.
As an affirmative defense, an argument of entrapment does not rest on whether or not you were in possession of a controlled substance, but rather to what degree the government played a motivational role in your being in possession of a controlled substance. You can think of entrapment as baiting, with police or other government parties enticing you with certain motivation to act contrary to your nature. Possibly, a confidential informant pressured you to pass drugs along to another individual, or perhaps police coerced you.
The burden of proof for entrapment falls on the defendant. Furthermore, when a court considers this defense, they will test it via a subjective and an objective standard. With the former, your lawyer must prove that you were not predisposed to committing the crime of possession of a controlled substance. Next, they will need to satisfy the objective standard by proving that whatever tactics the government used would have sufficed to prompt a law-abiding individual to commit this crime. If your lawyer’s entrapment defense succeeds, the court will find you not guilty of possession of a controlled substance.
Substance Was Not a Controlled Drug
Because the offense with which you were charged is possession of a controlled substance, your lawyer may, under certain circumstances, present the defense that the substance in your possession was, in fact, not a controlled substance. As such, you did not violate this law.
If law enforcement officers search your car and discover a bag of white powder, which they presume to be cocaine, your lawyer might consider arguing that the substance was actually flour. Now the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor. They will need to prove that the substance was, indeed, cocaine, by sending the seized substance to a crime lab to be tested. The lab analyst will need to appear in court to testify as to the true nature of the substance.
Medical Marijuana Exception
Ohio Revised Code Title 37 Chapter 3796 defines medical marijuana as that which is “cultivated, processed, dispensed, tested, possessed, or used for a medical purpose.”
The Revised Code enumerates qualifying conditions for which medical marijuana may be used. Some of the conditions include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic and severe pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Ulcerative colitis
Ever since Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, qualified users may legally use medical marijuana in the state for these and other qualifying medical conditions. To be a “qualified” user, an individual must be registered with the state and have a recommendation from their doctor that the person use medical marijuana. Doctors are not permitted to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes, but they can suggest that their patients treat various conditions with the substance. Qualified users are legally allowed to obtain tinctures, oils, plants, edibles, and patches to relieve their medical issues, as recommended by a physician.
If your lawyer can prove that a physician recommended that you use medical marijuana to treat a medical condition, the possession charge against you will be dropped.
Drugs Did Not Belong to the Accused/Unwitting Possession
In another type of defense, your lawyer might argue a “lack of possession.” With this strategy, your lawyer would need to rely on the likelihood that the prosecution cannot easily prove that you had both dominion and control of the controlled substance. Such may be the case if you were renting a house in which drugs were seized or if you were traveling in a vehicle with several different people, making it difficult to prove to whom the substance belonged.
If your lawyer goes with an unwitting possession defense, they could argue that you did not know you were in possession of a controlled substance. If you work as a courier, and you are sent to deliver a package that contains heroin, your attorney can present to the court that you were unaware of the contents of the package.
When your attorney is able to use one of the above defenses to prove you did not have dominion and control of the controlled substance in your possession, the possession charge against you does not pass muster.
Your Columbus drug crimes lawyer has access to a diverse range of defenses against possession of a controlled substance. Others that might work in your case include:
- No Drugs: It is always possible that somewhere through the chain of command for the drugs seized as evidence against you, the drugs were lost or misplaced. Whatever the case, if the prosecution can not prove the presence of the drugs pertaining to your case, the possession charge against you will probably be dropped.
Drugs Were Planted: Your lawyer can file a motion to have the investigating police officer’s complaint file released. It will then fall upon your attorney to investigate the matter of the search and seizure, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to prove that police planted the drugs that were “found” in your possession.
Ohio Federal Drug Crime Penalties in Ohio Cases
The Controlled Substances Act (21 USC § 13) defines charges for federal drug crimes and outlines the penalties connected with each type of offense. You can find this information on the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website. Some federal drug crimes involve crossing state borders. For example, if you cross state borders while in possession of a controlled substance, you could be charged with a federal drug offense. The same holds true if you were to enter Ohio from another country.
Ohio Drug Charge Penalties
Ohio’s drug statutes give prosecutors a great deal of latitude in charging state drug crimes. For example, possession can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or anywhere from a first- to fifth- degree felony. Factors that prosecutors use in charging drug crimes in Ohio include the type of controlled substance that was involved, the amount of the substance, and the location of the offense. The degree of the charge matters to the defendant for a few reasons:
- It determines the range of sentences available to the judge.
- Prosecutors sometimes overcharge offenses to give themselves negotiating room for a plea agreement.
- Higher-degree charges often place a greater burden on the prosecutor to prove aggravating circumstances.
Charges for Drug Possession in Ohio
Although not exhaustive, some of the guidelines for charging drug possession in Ohio according to the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission are outlined in the chart below.
|Marijuana||< 100 g||Minor misdemeanor|
|≥ 100 g and < 200 g||Fourth-degree misdemeanor|
|≥ 200 g and < 1 kg||Fifth-degree felony|
|≥ 1 kg and < 20 kg||Third-degree felony|
|≥ 20 kg||Second-degree felony|
|Cocaine||< 5 g||Fifth-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 10 g||Fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 10 g and < 20 g||Third-degree felony|
|≥ 20 g and < 27 g||Second-degree felony|
|≥ 27 g||First-degree felony|
|LSD: Solid||< 10 UD||Fifth-degree felony|
|≥ 10 UD and < 50 UD||Fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 50 UD and < 250 UD||Third-degree felony|
|≥ 250 UD and < 1,000 UD||Second-degree felony|
|≥ 1,000 UD||First-degree felony|
|LSD: Liquid||< 1 g||Fifth-degree felony|
|≥ 1 g and < 5 g||Fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 25 g||Third-degree felony|
|≥ 25 g and < 100 g||Second-degree felony|
|≥ 100 g||First-degree felony|
|Heroin||< 1 g; < 10 UD||Fifth-degree felony|
|≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UD||Fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UD||Third-degree felony|
|≥ 10 g and < 50 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 500 UD||Second-degree felony|
|≥ 50 g; ≥ 500 UD||First-degree felony|
Charges for Drug Trafficking in Ohio
Similarly, drug trafficking in Ohio is charged based on the type of substance and the amount. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the charging guidelines:
|Marijuana||Gift ≤ 20 g||Minor misdemeanor to third-degree misdemeanor|
|< 200 g||Fifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 200 g and < 1 kg||Fourth-degree felony to third-degree felony|
|≥ 1 kg and < 20 kg||Third-degree felony to second-degree felony|
|≥ 20 kg||Second-degree felony to first-degree felony|
|Powder or crack cocaine||< 5g||Fifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 10 g||Fourth-degree felony to third-degree felony|
|≥ 10 g and < 20 g||Third-degree felony to second-degree felony|
|≥ 20 g and < 27 g||Second-degree felony to first-degree felony|
|≥ 27 g||First-degree felony|
|Heroin||< 1 g; < 10 UD||Fifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UD||Fourth-degree felony to third-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UD||Third-degree felony to second-degree felony|
|≥ 10 g and < 50 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 500 UD||Second-degree felony to first-degree felony|
|≥ 50 g; ≥ 500 UD||First-degree felony|
|Fentanyl-Related Compound||< 1 g; < 10 UD||Fifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony|
|≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UD||Fourth-degree felony to third-degree felony|
|≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UD||Third-degree felony to second-degree felony|
|≥ 10 g and < 20 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 200 UD||Second-degree felony to first-degree felony|
|≥ 20 g; ≥ 200 UD||First-degree felony|
Sentencing for Drug Crimes in Ohio
Ohio’s criminal statutes define the sentencing guidelines for criminal offenses. If you are convicted or plead guilty to a drug crime in Ohio, a judge will sentence you based on these guidelines. Judges have it at their discretion to impose sentences anywhere within the permitted range, but they cannot go outside the range without risking being reversed by an appeal court.
|Degree of offense||Sentence|
|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||One 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|
Besides incarceration and fines, judges can also sentence drug offenders to community service and probation.
Collateral Consequences of Drug Crime Convictions in Ohio
If you are convicted of a drug crime in Ohio, you will deal with the direct consequences of any court-imposed sentences, including possible incarceration, fines, probation, and so on. You will also face a number of collateral, or indirect, consequences of this conviction.
Drug crime convictions in Ohio give rise to a whole set of laws that will restrict you and burden you well past the completion of your court-imposed sentence. As an individual with a criminal record, you will be blocked by many legal barriers from fully engaging in life as you would otherwise be able to do. These restrictions can deeply impact your access to education, housing, jobs, and other vital elements of a normal life.
According to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, collateral consequences, or sanctions, for drug offenses are established via statutes, constitutional provisions, court rules, and administrative regulations. As a function of Ohio law, convicted criminals face potentially hundreds of collateral consequences, no matter the jurisdiction of their conviction.
These sanctions comprise five categories:
- Civil rights
- Public employment and doing business with the state
- Care, custody, and control of children and family
- Regulated professions, occupations, trades, industries, and businesses
- Other privileges
Collateral consequences vary, depending on the charge for which you were convicted. Some sanctions are discretionary, and many are mandatory. It is worth noting, however, that these sanctions do not fall under the criminal justice system and, as such, are not defined within Ohio’s criminal code.
The Civil Impacts of Criminal Convictions Under Ohio Law (CIVICC) offers a free, online database of civil impacts, searchable by the offense with which you have been charged. Examples of such consequences include:
- Loss of Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) benefits
- Ineligibility for public employment
- Loss of right to vote in public elections
- Random drug testing
- Loss of driving privileges
- Ineligibility to serve on a jury
- Conviction as grounds for divorce
- Loss of parental rights in custody cases
Felony drug convictions, for example, can result in:
- Ineligibility to join the military
- Revocation of some state professional licenses
- Revocation of passports
The restrictions a convicted drug offender faces can work to diminish their quality of life to a deeply frustrating degree. Fortunately, a drug crimes lawyer may be able to soften the blow of such sanctions.
Legal Recourse for Collateral Consequences
Your lawyer has access to a number of legal mechanisms that can provide relief from the collateral consequences of a drug crime conviction. They can apprise you of the likely sanctions you might face, inform you of possible ways to restore your rights, investigate whether you qualify for any of the relief options available, and determine whether restoring your rights happens automatically or will necessitate some form of judicial process. Examples of some legal avenues your lawyer might consider for relieving collateral consequences after your conviction include:
- Meeting certain rehabilitation criteria
- Sealing of your criminal record
- Seeking a pardon
A Columbus drug crimes lawyer can tell you more about the ways in which a conviction will affect you well past your sentencing. A Joslyn Law Firm, our primary focus is on presenting a defense that will deter a conviction in your case. That being said, we would be foolish not to plan ahead for a possible conviction. Our team will maintain a bird’s eye view of the judicial process as it unfolds in your case and, in the case of a conviction, be ready to move ahead with a plan to reduce the collateral consequences for you. Call us today at (614) 444-1900.
Columbus Drug Crime Investigations
Ohio law enforcement carries a hefty toolbox of task forces, tactics, and strategies for investigating drug crimes.
Methods of Tracking Controlled Substances in the Mail
Every year, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) arrests a minimum of 1,500 drug trafficking and money laundering suspects. The USPS is able to help law enforcement to uncover a case of controlled substances being sent via the mail. A “mail cover” from the United States Postal Inspection Service monitors the suspect and notifies the police when the drug package arrives at the delivering Post Office.
Postal Inspectors can also facilitate establishing probable cause to obtain the federal search warrant required to open the package. The package is seized and its contents tested before it is delivered to the recipient. Finally, the Inspection Service can help intercept drugs that come from domestic or foreign sources when they arrive at the USPS facility for processing. They often work with police-provided canines to screen mail for illicit substances.
Ohio law enforcement is entitled to set up surveillance of suspected drug criminals with a valid search warrant. Surveillance can take many forms, ranging from physical, personal observations, and stakeouts, to various types of electronic monitoring technologies.
The old-school surveillance method still proves effective in today’s tech-centric world. With a fixed surveillance system, investigators sit in unmarked cars, vans, or nearby homes, or on the street to secretly watch a given location and track the people who come and go, as well as other activities that transpire there. Typically, these stakeout units consist of one or two people who watch the location under investigation.
Some of these surveillance units use equipment like hidden cameras and recording devices in a parked vehicle. With the recording technology in place, it is not necessary to have people physically sitting and watching the location around the clock, and the parked vehicle draws less attention than one in which a driver is sitting for hours on end.
When suspects are moving on foot, law enforcement officers may track and monitor with a three-person surveillance team. With this surveillance setup, one plain-clothes investigator walks behind the suspect, with a second investigator following. And a third officer walks on the opposite side of the street, slightly behind or ahead of the suspect.
With a court order, investigators can use specialized types of electronic devices to monitor telephone conversations, emails, internet, and fax communications. If the police do not have sufficient probable cause to warrant a wiretap, they are still able to track with whom a suspect communicates by implementing a pen register. This form of monitoring does not permit investigators to monitor the contents of a phone call, but it can be enough to advance the investigation. Police can also monitor the use of electricity in a suspect’s home, as spikes in usage may indicate use of a grow light used for growing marijuana plants. Along these lines, law enforcement can use infrared imaging to check the heat that comes through a building’s walls.
A court order can extend beyond what is traditionally known as wiretapping to include monitoring via drones and license plate readers. Investigators can also confiscate computers for forensic testing and view your cloud-stored data with a subpoena. If police are monitoring your cell phone, they can use stingray tracking devices to triangulate your phone—and your location. They can even identify people who are in your vicinity using the same technology.
Controlled Telephone Calls
If law enforcement used a controlled telephone call in your investigation, you probably received a brief call from someone you trust and with whom you have regular phone conversations. On the other end of the line, your “friend” is working with law enforcement officials who may have written a script crafted to lead the conversation in a certain direction. Chances are, you said something incriminating during the phone call, which was recorded—, and which can now be admitted into evidence against you.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) confirms that the government can use confidential informants (CI) to investigate drug crimes. These citizens cooperate with law enforcement using their insider understanding of the suspect who police are targeting in their investigation. If police receive a tip from an informant that you are engaged in a drug crime, they may use this information to obtain a search warrant. This can prompt a search of your home, car, or other property, and possibly lead to your arrest.
The U.S. Supreme Court sanctions the use of CIs and deems their use to be a vital tool in fighting crime. In U.S. v. Bernal-Obeso (United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit), the court stated that “Without informants, law enforcement authorities would be unable to penetrate and destroy… drug trafficking cartels… terrorist gangs, money launderers…and the likes.”
The government acknowledges that the use of CIs can put prosecutors on a slippery slope, as several factors can be called into question in court, including your right to privacy and the reliability/motivation of the CI. The FBI takes special care to avoid crossing the fine line that separates the interest of public safety and your right to privacy. The attorney general issues special guidelines for the government to adhere to when using CIs.
When police have a valid belief that an individual is predisposed to commit a drug crime, they can use a controlled buy in their investigation of the suspect. Before entering into the “transaction,” the police officer poses as a purchaser and is inspected to ensure they do not possess any form of controlled substance. They are then given pre-recorded money with which to buy the drugs. They are taken to a predetermined location where they will make the transaction.
Throughout the transaction, law enforcement keeps continuous surveillance of the individuals involved in the deal. Once the sale is completed, police again check the fake buyer for drugs. Whatever they find is then field-tested.
To avoid an entrapment situation, which would invalidate any evidence seized, law enforcement must have reason to believe that the target of the controlled buy is predisposed to sell drugs.
In 1988, Ohio began releasing funds from the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program to agencies that stepped up to create task forces aimed at curbing the state’s drug supply. As time moved on, the state facilitated the growth of these task forces by encouraging regional cooperation, which helped with the efficiency of these groups.
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. Others, like METRICH, operate as independent law enforcement units.
The OTFCA works as a unified body, sharing information and resources via a partnership with the State of Ohio in order to target the flow of controlled substances throughout Ohio. Columbus is represented by the Franklin County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Drug Task Force.
In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance granted an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant in the amount of $5,712,220 to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, deepening state resources for equipping state task forces that will continue to crack down on drug crimes.
Evidence in Drug Crime Cases
Ohio’s commitment to free itself from overwhelming drug crime activity has prompted the emergence of sophisticated investigation techniques and a formidable anti-drug task force element. This powerful combination generates unprecedented volumes of different types of evidence that can be used to convict you of the drug crime of which you stand accused.
Examples of these types of evidence include:
- Surveillance videos
- Audio recordings
- Text messages
- Computer files
- Police officer testimony
- Police body cameras
- Witness testimony
- Wire taps
- Crime labs results
- Recorded buy money
- Postal mail
- Scale, plastic baggies, business cards
- Cultivation schedules
- Chemicals used to prepare drugs
- Home drug lab and/or equipment used to manufacture drugs
- Grow lights
The outcome of your defense against a drug crime charge depends heavily on your lawyer’s ability to assess the prosecution’s evidence against you and apply any relevant laws to suppress as much evidence as possible.
Suppression of Evidence in Ohio Drug Cases
A large majority of drug crime defense cases are won or lost in the suppression of evidence hearings. For a criminal defense attorney, this tactic is one of the most effective weapons they can use to combat a conviction. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that any evidence obtained through illegal means must be excluded from court. There are many ways in which evidence can be deemed illegal, many of which we reviewed in the earlier section about Defenses to Drug Possession.
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.
If you consented to a search of your property because you did not understand that law enforcement was asking for this consent—perhaps due to a language barrier—this evidence may be inadmissible.
In Plain Sight
Without a warrant, police are not permitted to go on a digging 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. Sometimes, police search outside these given areas, and in these cases, the evidence they discover is illegally obtained and must be excluded.
If you were arrested after an illegal stop by law enforcement, and drugs or other incriminating evidence were discovered after your vehicle was impounded, the evidence can be considered fruit of the poisonous tree, and your lawyer can file a motion to suppress. For that matter, if you are unlawfully stopped (without an officer having reasonable suspicion of a crime), any evidence obtained from that stop can be suppressed.
Even if you are legally stopped and arrested, you have certain rights relating to your vehicle’s impoundment. Iif police do not give you the opportunity to secure your vehicle or to have someone pick it up, and an inventory search during impoundment reveals drugs, this is not admissible as evidence in court. The same holds true if your vehicle was not posing a threat to public safety, but was safely parked, and therefore did not need to be towed.
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. These provisions give you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Unless you waive your Miranda rights, police must refrain from asking you for information until your lawyer (or a court-appointed lawyer) is there to assist you.
In their eagerness to extract useful information to help build their case, police sometimes coerce a person in custody, or they may make empty promises to entice the individual to start talking. If you were not read your Miranda rights, or if you exerted your right to remain silent or your right to a lawyer, and interrogating officers did not honor these rights, any evidence obtained during this interrogation may be suppressed.
In any drug crime case, most especially one in which the defendant is charged with possession of a controlled substance, physical evidence represents the bulk of the prosecution’s case. By shooting holes in the admissibility of this evidence, the defendant’s chances of a positive outcome vastly improve.
Ohio Court Process in Drug Crime Cases
If you are being investigated for or have been charged with a drug crime, you may find it helpful to understand the Ohio criminal process for these types of cases. Knowing what to expect can help you feel less overwhelmed by what lies ahead.
Step 1: Arraignment or Intake
At this stage, you will stand before a judge in court where you will be formally notified of the drug charges you are facing. Your lawyer will stand by your side, and you will officially enter your plea of guilty or not guilty. There will be conditions you must follow while your case is pending, and the judge will explain these conditions to you at this time. The judge will set bail, and you will have to post it if you want to avoid spending your days in jail while you wait for your trial and your verdict. You will be apprised of your next hearing date and perhaps be given your schedule for other hearings as well as your trial date.
Step 2: Pre-Trial Hearings
Since the arraignment, your lawyer has been working on building your defense. At some point, you and your lawyer will need to check in with the judge at a pre-trial hearing. The prosecutor will also be there. The purpose of this hearing is to work through any legal issues and administrative details before your trial. Negotiations with the prosecutor can also happen during pre-trial hearings.
Step 3: Motion Hearings
In subsequent motion hearings, pre-trial motions can be filed, including motions to suppress evidence, presentation of trial witnesses, and requests for change of venue. In certain situations, the defendant’s lawyer may file a motion for dismissal, usually based on a lack of evidence, no probable cause, failure to preserve evidence, etc. Furthermore, either side can file a motion for summary judgment, where the judge decides the case based on facts presented to date.
Step 4: Readiness Hearings
At this stage, the court will want to hear whether both the prosecution and defense are ready for trial. If either side is not prepared, they can ask the judge for a continuance. In some cases, both sides may agree to resolve the case. A negotiated disposition and sentencing will follow.
Step 5: Trial
Typically, drug crime cases are resolved before they go to trial. If your case does progress to trial, you will have the choice between having a trial by judge (bench trial) or a jury trial. If your case proceeds to this stage, you may be able to choose whether you want a bench trial (trial by judge) or a jury trial. Your lawyer will review with you the advantages to both types of trials.
Throughout the trial, evidence will be presented by the prosecutor. They will need to be able to use this evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the required elements of the charges against you.
It will be up to the judge or jury to decide if the prosecutor has effectively proven their case. Based on this determination, you will be judged as guilty or not guilty. In the case of a jury trial, the decision must be unanimous. If this is not the case, the judge will declare a mistrial.
Step 6: Sentencing
In the event that the judge or jury finds you guilty of the drug charges brought against you, the judge will determine your sentence. Your lawyer can recommend a sentence to the judge, unless they have already negotiated a sentence with the prosecutor. It is permissible for you to have family and friends appear before the judge to speak on your behalf, and you are also allowed to make a statement to the court for consideration in your sentencing determination.
Special Investigators and Prosecutors for Columbus Drug Possession Charges
People accused of drug crimes in Columbus will find themselves locked in legal battles against multiple entities that represent the state’s laser focus on reducing drug crimes.
As discussed earlier on this page, the state is equipped with specialized prosecution teams and 27 multi-jurisdictional drug task forces that help sheriff’s’ offices and municipal police departments collaborate in rigorous drug investigations.
The Franklin County HIDTA Drug Task Force facilitates collaborations between the:
- Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
- ; The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA);
- An array of police departments;
- The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections;
- The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
A narcotics Tactical Unit supports the Columbus Police Department’s Special Operations Unit, enabling it to immediately respond to any criminal scenario that demands rapid law enforcement involvement.
In 2019, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) stated that Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center (ONIC) was established as a specialized criminal intelligence unit that functions as part of the Ohio Department of Public Safety in Columbus and Cleveland. The ONIC supports drug- fighting initiatives in local law enforcement by providing computer forensic specialists, criminal intelligence analysts, and advanced capabilities in cryptocurrency and dark web investigations. ONIC also helps the state’s multiple task forces share investigation information with law enforcement agencies statewide using an intelligence-driven, electronic platform.
Finally, Ohio’s law enforcement teams can count on the Ohio National Guard’s Counterdrug Program for assistance with anticipating, detecting, deterring, disrupting, and defeating the presence of illicit controlled substances throughout the state.
Franklin County employs several specialized attorneys who report to a drug unit prosecutor. The state’s attorney general also steps in to handle cases that involve drug crimes. When it comes to interstate and international trafficking and other crimes that violate national drug regulations and laws, the DEA will pick up the task of investigating and preparing the prosecution.
Make no mistake, Columbus and Ohio take drug crime cases very seriously. They will pull all the stops when investigating and prosecuting all drug offenses, using every tool at their disposal. If you are being questioned about drug crimes in Columbus or you have been arrested or charged with a drug offense, consider hiring a Columbus drug crimes lawyer who has constructed defenses for these types of cases and who can fight to protect your rights. Call the Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation: (614) 444-1900.
Drug Crime Resources
The following drug crime resources may be beneficial to you if you have been accused of a drug crime or if you have a peripheral interest in the topic:
- Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA): Provides grants, technical and training assistance, as well as policy development services to state, local, and tribal governments to help in their efforts to reduce drug-related crime
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Investigates and prepares cases that violate national drug laws
- Franklin County Drug Court: Administers the “Treatment is Essential to Success” (TIES) Program, which connects offenders with treatment programs in an effort to reduce the effects of drug use on Franklin County crime by linking offenders to treatment programs.
- High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
- Quick Facts on Drug Trafficking Offenses from the United States Sentencing Commission.
- The Latino Women’s Prevention Program: Supports and educates Latino women on the effects and risks of drug addiction and how to handle challenging situations related to addiction
- Narcotics Anonymous Ohio: Community in which recovering addicts meet with the objective of helping each other stay clean
- National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS): Gathers drug crime chemistry analysis results as reported by various local, state, and federal forensic laboratories
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Conducts clinical research on drug use and publishes findings with the objective of improving treatment and prevention, as well as to increase public awareness that drug addiction is a type of brain disorder
- Ohio Attorney General’s Drug Use Prevention Grant and Application Guidelines: Provides funds to Ohio-based law enforcement agencies that are focused on addressing state or local drug problems
- Office of National Drug Control Policy: Coordinates, implements, and assesses U.S. drug policy
- Ohio Department of Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services – This site provides information on addiction, intervention, recovery, and treatment. ODADAS also aims to reduce the stigma of drug addiction, mental health, and behavioral issues.
- Ohio Drug Courts: Works to promote development of Ohio drug court programs
- Ohio Revised Code: Drug Offenses (Chapter 2925): Ohio’s laws related to drug offenses
- Opiate Use Prevention Resources Community Pocket Card: Resource provided by Columbus Public Health to help curb opiate use
- Practice: Juvenile Drug Courts: Helpful information regarding juvenile drug court programs
- NORML: Non-profit group created with the mission to influence public opinion about legalizing marijuana
- U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Ohio: Information about the U.S. Attorney’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force
- World Drug Report: Information from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC).
Notable Ohio Drug Crime Cases
A sampling of Ohio drug crime cases illustrates the breadth and depth of drug activity in the state, the intense focus on investigating and prosecuting drug crimes of various sorts, and how courts are handling the challenges presented before them.
The State of Ohio v. Pendleton
In December 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court determined that a court may not impose more severe sentencing than intended by Ohio law. In a Double Jeopardy case, the defendant argued against two prison sentences imposed for trafficking a single mixture of heroin and fentanyl. The defendant, Kenny Pendleton, received one sentence for trafficking in heroin (a first-degree felony) and an additional sentence for trafficking in fentanyl (a second-degree felony).
In its decision, the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed with the Second District Court of Appeals, which previously stated that the dual sentences did not violate Ohio’s Double Jeopardy protections. The Supreme Court ordered that Pendleton should be resentenced.
The State of Ohio v. Pribble
In 2019, when an Adams County man was being sentenced for meth production, the Ohio Supreme Court was forced to tackle a conflict between two statutes related to sentencing for repeat offenders of this crime. While one statute directs a mandatory five-year prison term because of the third-degree felony, the other statute places a three-year cap on sentences for all but a select group of third-degree felonies. The Supreme Court decided that the five-year provision takes precedence and applied the ruling to the defendant’s sentence.
Terry v. Ohio
In Cleveland, a police detective patted down three individuals he suspected were about to rob a store. Concealed weapons were found on John Terry and Richard Clinton, and both were tried and convicted of carrying concealed weapons. Using the argument of illegal search, both defendants appealed the decision.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren ruled that a limited pat-down was warranted based on the defendants’ suspicious behavior. As such, it met the criteria for lawful search as defined within the Fourth Amendment. Chief Warren also ruled that stop-and-frisk searches did not always constitute violations of the amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The State of Ohio v. Gonzales
Defendant Rafael Gonzales had purchased two kilograms of cocaine from an undercover police informant and police officer. One of the cocaine bricks weighed 139 grams, and the defendant received a sentence of 11 years of imprisonment. Because the cocaine was mixed with mock cocaine, the 6th District Court of Appeals overturned the first-degree felony sentence. The court determined that the weight of this substance could not count toward the total weight of the seized substance.
In 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the appeals court’s ruling that cocaine’s purity must be a factor when determining charges and sentencing for possession of a controlled substance. This decision was reversed in 2017 by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who wrote that fillers—although not actually controlled substances—make up part of the usable drug, and, as such, their weight should be included in the total weight of the seized substance. Because of this decision, prosecutors have been able to seek higher penalties for cocaine possession, even if the seized substance has been mixed with fillers.
Other Recent Cases of Interest
In June 2017, a 5th Ward Circle gang member faced charges of burglary and conspiracy to deal in oxycodone. The man had burglarized a Walgreens in Indiana, then tried to mail 240 stolen tablets of 80 milligram oxycodone—attempting to use counterfeit money to pay for shipping. The defendant had been previously implicated in pharmacy burglaries in multiple states.
One hundred people were indicted in November 2017 for their connection with a massive fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, and cocaine trafficking ring. Members of the Down the Way street gang served as leaders of the operation. The gang sold drugs to mid-level traffickers to distribute throughout Columbiana County. The prolific effort moved what amounted to 350,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl and one million potentially fatal doses of carfentanil in the county.
Columbus Drug Treatment Centers
If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for a drug abuse problem or addiction, consider contacting one of the following Columbus treatment centers:
- Crossroads Recovery Services Inc: Crossroads Recovery Services strives to provide people with an array of programs, especially for individuals trying to fulfill duties given to them by the court.
- Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: They give the people of Ohio a place to recover and be treated for their addiction.
- North Central Mental Health Services Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program North Central Mental Health Services Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program treat everyone who has gone through substance abuse, including individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf.
- The Recovery Village Columbus: The Recovery Village works on treating its patients for life, through inpatient care, medical detox, outpatient care, and structure for post-care.
- City of Columbus Outpatient Treatment: City of Columbus Outpatient Treatment focuses on outpatient recovery care for men and women over the age of 18 and offers both individual and group therapy.
- Southeast Healthcare: Southeast Healthcare concentrates its efforts on the individual, offering its MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) program and Telehealth for distant patients.
- House of Hope: Being in use since 1959, The House of Hope can provide addiction treatment for no or small fees for most of its clients because of the abundance of funding it receives.
- The Ridge Residential Drug Rehab: The Ridge Residential Drug Rehab addresses the origin of addiction and helps addicts to manage the stress of everyday life through therapy and detox methods.
- Talbot Hall: Talbot Hall makes sure that its staff is always aware of the current and upcoming treatment, providing a wide range of options for mental health healing.
- Freedom Recovery: Accepting all versions of Medicaid and a variety of insurance plans, Freedom Recovery is founded by people who have experienced the struggle of addiction and offers the trusted 12 Step Plan to recovery.
- Ohio Addiction Recovery Center (OARC): Named the best addiction treatment center in Ohio by Newsweek, the OARC offers a highly-individualized approach to treatment.
Related Ohio Drug Crime News and Articles
The Columbus Dispatch reported on the largest drug bust in Franklin County’s recent history (2/11/2022). Seventy-nine people were indicted and $6 million in drugs were seized. The landmark drug case busted a complex narcotics trafficking organization that received deliveries of cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin from Mexico and Puerto Rico. The charges were brought one year after Ohio agencies began investigations.
News 5 Cleveland reported that meth lab equipment and chemicals were found inside a Salem apartment (11/4/2019). After a man in Salem, Ohio called the police to his apartment, the officers were shocked to find tools for a meth lab. The man’s neighbors were not surprised, saying this kind of thing happened around there often. A concerned parent nearby had been fearing for the safety of her children for a while because of this meth lab.
News 5 Cleveland also reported Ohio’s recreational marijuana campaign was still working despite delays and complications (5/12/20). A group named Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has been trying to get people to sign their petition to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected the current proposed amendment. The group says that adults over 21 years of age should be able to grow a maximum of six plants and a limit of one ounce of marijuana. The Ohio Department of Commerce would have regulation over the program.
WTOV-TV reported a trafficking case wherein – 9 locals among 13 were arrested for federal drug trafficking crimes (6/8/20). Twelve people were charged and arrested for trafficking heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine in not only Ohio, but also West Virginia. It is suspected that the organization started in Cleveland and was led by Michael Dugger. Allegedly, Dugger distributed drugs to members residing in Ohio Valley. The group also took part in further crimes, like kidnapping and attempted murder. The federal and Ohio governments worked together to investigate and charge the drug ring.
Cleaveland.com stated that police arrested a passed-out driver with a machete, neck knife, and drugs galore, per the North Royalton Police Blotter (6/10/20). A man was found passed out at the wheel of his running car that was stationed in a handicapped spot. Police were dispatched there at once. Once the man woke up, he claimed that he was fine and waiting for a friend. However, the police smelled the marijuana and, upon further investigation, found a hefty amount of drugs, pills, and weapons in his car. The owner of the car was immediately arrested and charged for numerous offenses.
Cleaveland.com wrote that an Ohio doctor faces 145 charges, was accused of operating a ‘pill mill,’ and caused two deaths (3/5/20). Doctor Martin Escobar, was believed to have been illegally prescribing drugs, causing the death of two people. He received 145 criminal charges. Escobar dispensed and distributed drugs to many individuals, including young adults under the age of 21. He sought to include controlled substances in his clients’ treatments and never considered alternative solutions. There is also proof that his patients would sell the drugs after acquiring them, spreading this distribution even further.
Cleaveland.com reported that a new opioid report found evidence of pill mills and doctor shopping in Ohio (5/10/18). A report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed that many health care professionals around Ohio had been illegally prescribing drugs. Five thousand people in Ohio have been receiving opioids without a valid reason. It is suspected that a number of these recipients were doctor shopping. Many children were given opioids, even though it was not necessary and despite the high risk for addiction.
Ohio Drug Crime Q&As
Q: What Are the Penalties for Drug crimes in Ohio?
A: The penalties you face will depend on the type of offense, type of controlled substance, quantity of the drug, and other factors. Penalties for a misdemeanor can range from a $150 fine to up to 180 days in jail with up to a $1,000 fine. Penalties for a felony can range from 6 months in jail with a fine of up to $2,500 to up to 11 years in prison with a fine of up to $20,000.
Q: How Long Will I Go to Prison for a Drug Crime in Ohio?
A: Possible prison sentences vary depending on the type of offense, type of drug involved in your case, and the quantity of the drug. Drug crimes may carry penalties ranging from no jail time to up to 11 years in prison. A lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea deal that allows you to avoid going to jail, or may present a defense that allows you to avoid prison.
Q: Can I Avoid Prison if I am Charged With a Drug Crime?
A: You may be able to avoid prison if you are charged with a drug offense in Ohio. Speak with a lawyer’s team about possible plea deals that may allow you to avoid prison., and They could also develop possible defenses to your charges, which may include arguing unlawful search and seizure, entrapment, the substance was not a controlled substance, lack of possession, and more.
Q: What Aare the Possible Defenses to a Drug Crime in Ohio?
A: The defenses your lawyer uses to fight drug crime charges in Ohio will depend on the circumstances of your case. Possible defenses include unlawful search and seizure, entrapment, lack of possession, and more. Your lawyer may file motions to suppress certain evidence in your case. Your lawyer may also negotiate a plea deal that leads to reduced charges or a lesser sentence.
Q: Are Drug Crimes Felonies or Misdemeanors in Ohio?
A: The level of offense depends on the type of offense, type of drug, and quantity of the drug, as well as other factors in some cases. Drug crime offenses range from minor misdemeanors that carry fines of up to $250 to felonies of the first degree with penalties of up to 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
Q: Can a Felony Drug Charge Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Ohio?
A: Yes, a plea bargain can reduce the level of drug charges. Participation in an Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (ILC) program can result in dismissal of the charges altogether.
Q: Is Drug Trafficking Considered a Felony in the State of Ohio?
A: Drug trafficking can be a felony, depending on the amount of the drug seized. If it equals or exceeds 50 times the bulk amount, and if you were arrested around a school or around a juvenile, you could be charged with a felony of the first degree, which carries a mandatory prison term.
Q: Can I Be Charged With a Drug Crime for Permitting Drug Abuse in Ohio?
A: Yes, according to Section 4501.01 of the Revised Code, if you own, operate, or are in charge of an aircraft, watercraft, locomotive, or other vehicle, and you knowingly allow people to use the vehicle for the commission of a felony drug abuse offense, you can be charged with Permitting Drug Abuse.
Q: What is Aggravated Possession of Drugs in Ohio?
A: You can be charged with aggravated possession of drugs if the drugs involved are considered Schedule I or I drugs, with the exception of LSD, cocaine, hashish, or heroin. This charge carries a minimum charge of felony of the fifth degree.