Columbus Drug Crimes Lawyer

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced with Ohio drug crimes defenses. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case by case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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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
  • Entrapment
  • 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

  1. Ohio Drug Crimes Overview
  2. Drug Crimes Definitions
  3. Ohio Controlled Substance Schedules
  4. Common Drug Crimes in Ohio
  5. Defenses to Drug Crimes in Ohio
  6. Ohio Penalties for Drug Crime Offenses
  7. Collateral Consequences of Drug Crime Convictions in Ohio
  8. Columbus Drug Crime Investigations
  9. Evidence in Drug Crime Cases
  10. Suppression of Evidence in Ohio Drug Crime Cases
  11. Ohio Court process in Drug Crime Cases
  12. Special Investigators and Prosecutors for Columbus Drug Crime Charges
  13. Drug Crime Resources
  14. Notable Ohio Drug Crime Cases
  15. Columbus Drug Treatment Centers
  16. Related Drug News and Crime
  17. Drug Crimes Q&As

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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

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

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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.

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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

Schedule I

This includes substances like marijuana, mescaline, morphine, and peyote which promote a high risk of abuse. They serve no valid medical purpose.

Schedule II

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.

Schedule III

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.

Schedule IV

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.

Schedule V

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.

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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:

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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.

Defining “Unreasonable”

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.

Traffic Stops

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:

  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • 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.

Other Defenses

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.

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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 gMinor misdemeanor
≥ 100 g and < 200 gFourth-degree misdemeanor
≥ 200 g and < 1 kgFifth-degree felony
≥ 1 kg and < 20 kgThird-degree felony
≥ 20 kgSecond-degree felony
Cocaine< 5 gFifth-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 10 gFourth-degree felony
≥ 10 g and < 20 gThird-degree felony
≥ 20 g and < 27 gSecond-degree felony
≥ 27 gFirst-degree felony
LSD: Solid< 10 UDFifth-degree felony
≥ 10 UD and < 50 UDFourth-degree felony
≥ 50 UD and < 250 UDThird-degree felony
≥ 250 UD and < 1,000 UDSecond-degree felony
≥ 1,000 UDFirst-degree felony
LSD: Liquid< 1 gFifth-degree felony
≥ 1 g and < 5 gFourth-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 25 gThird-degree felony
≥ 25 g and < 100 gSecond-degree felony
≥ 100 gFirst-degree felony
Heroin< 1 g; < 10 UDFifth-degree felony
≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UDFourth-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UDThird-degree felony
≥ 10 g and < 50 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 500 UDSecond-degree felony
≥ 50 g; ≥ 500 UDFirst-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:

MarijuanaGift ≤ 20 gMinor misdemeanor to third-degree misdemeanor
< 200 gFifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony
≥ 200 g and < 1 kgFourth-degree felony to third-degree felony
≥ 1 kg and < 20 kgThird-degree felony to second-degree felony
≥ 20 kgSecond-degree felony to first-degree felony
Powder or crack cocaine< 5gFifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 10 gFourth-degree felony to third-degree felony
≥ 10 g and < 20 gThird-degree felony to second-degree felony
≥ 20 g and < 27 gSecond-degree felony to first-degree felony
≥ 27 gFirst-degree felony
Heroin< 1 g; < 10 UDFifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony
≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UDFourth-degree felony to third-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UDThird-degree felony to second-degree felony
≥ 10 g and < 50 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 500 UDSecond-degree felony to first-degree felony
≥ 50 g; ≥ 500 UDFirst-degree felony
Fentanyl-Related Compound< 1 g; < 10 UDFifth-degree felony to fourth-degree felony
≥ 1 g and < 5 g; ≥ 10 UD and < 50 UDFourth-degree felony to third-degree felony
≥ 5 g and < 10 g; ≥ 50 UD and < 100 UDThird-degree felony to second-degree felony
≥ 10 g and < 20 g; ≥ 100 UD and < 200 UDSecond-degree felony to first-degree felony
≥ 20 g; ≥ 200 UDFirst-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 offenseSentence
Minor misdemeanorFines up to $150
Fourth-degree misdemeanorJail time up to 30 days and/or fines not exceeding $250
Third-degree misdemeanorUp to 60 days in jail and/or fines up to $500
Second-degree misdemeanorJail sentence of not more than 90 days and/or a fine up to $750
First-degree misdemeanorUp to 180 days in jail and/or fines up to $1,000
Fifth-degree felonyPrison time from six to 12 months and/or fines up to $2,500
Fourth-degree felonyPrison sentence from six to 18 months and/or fines not more than $5,000
Third-degree felonyOne to five years prison sentence and/or fines not over $10,000
Second-degree felonySentence ranges from two to eight years in prison and/or fines not exceeding $15,000
First-degree felonyOhio 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.

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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:

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.

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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 stake