Ohio Drug Charges FAQ
Many people who have been charged with a drug offense in Ohio have questions about the potential sentences they may face, what certain elements of the charges are, and whether they will have a criminal record, among other questions.
Although searching the internet for answers to your questions is one of the best places to start finding information for the drug charges against you, nothing compares to speaking to an actual drug defense lawyer.
Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio is an experienced attorney and knowledgeable with Ohio’s controlled substance laws and will answer your Columbus controlled substances FAQ. Call the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation today.
Q. What are common drug crimes in Columbus?
A. At a basic level, the three most common drug crimes are:
- Drug Possession – knowingly obtaining or possessing a controlled substance.
- Drug Manufacturing – intentionally manufacturing or engaging in any part of the controlled substance production process.
- Drug Trafficking – engaging in the shipment, transportation, preparation, or distribution of a controlled substance.
Drug crimes are typically related to these three areas regarding drugs which have serious potential for drug abuse. There are other factors assessed with the severity of an alleged drug crime, such as the amount someone possesses of an illicit substance, the type of drug in possession, and the intent.
Q. What are federal drug crimes?
A. While any illegal drug charge is considered a federal crime, generally there is a specific activity or activities that lead to federal charges. Most commonly, federal charges arise when there is more than a certain amount of a controlled substance, the substance was allegedly trafficked across state lines, the person charged was involved with importing drugs into the country, or the alleged crime happened on federal property.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is dedicated to enforcing controlled substance laws and regulations in the United States. On the DEA website, you will find arrests statistics, recovery resources, and publications on federal drug information in the US.
Q. What are the illegal drugs in Columbus?
Illegal drugs are also known as controlled substances, and can include, but are not limited to, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, methamphetamines and Oxycontin.
Q. What does “possession of a controlled substance” mean?
A. This phrase means knowingly exercising dominion and control over an illegal drug and/or having a reasonable belief that the substance in your possession is, in fact, an illegal drug.
Q. How is drug trafficking defined?
A. Drug trafficking is the preparation, shipment, distribution or delivery of illegal drugs, which the offender intends to sale or resale to another, or obtain/purchase through sale or resale by another.
Q. What are federal drug crimes?
A. Any illegal drug charge is a federal crime. However, most crimes relating to controlled substances in Ohio are handled by local law enforcement.
Q. How is drug possession with intent to sell defined?
A. Possession with intent to sell is defined as the exercise of dominion and control over illegal substances, with the intent (i.e., knowledge and purpose) to sell, distribute, ship, deliver, or otherwise traffic those substances.
Q. How is drug cultivation defined?
A. Cultivation/manufacture is defined as the production or growth of illegal substances.
Q. How do you know that you are being investigated for a drug crime?
A. If you are investigated for a crime, law enforcement will either stop and question you or, if you are in your home or another dwelling, police officers may ask for your consent to search that place.
Q. If I have been arrested in Columbus for a drug crime what should I do?
A. If you have been arrested for a drug offense in Columbus you should assert your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney. Be sure to fully inform the police that you wish to invoke these rights. From this point, the only thing you should inform the police of is your name, address and date of birth if requested.
Q. Should I consent to a search of your home or another dwelling?
A. Police officers must present a properly executed warrant, particularizing the place to be searched and the items and/or individuals to be seized. If you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a dwelling (such as your home) or, alternatively, you have been given express or implied authority to consent to people entering the dwelling, you must consent to the search.
Q. If I have been arrested for a drug crime in Columbus, Ohio; will I go to jail or prison?
Unfortunately, many of the sentencing guidelines for drug crime convictions provide the potential for jail or prison. However, you are not convicted of a drug crime in Columbus until you have been proven guilty. If you have been arrested for a drug offense in Columbus, it is critical that you seek legal counsel immediately. Doing so may be the difference between being convicted of a drug crime or having your case dismissed.
Q. What are some of the defenses to drug crimes?
Some defenses to drug crimes can include: the absence or improper execution of a search warrant; failure by law enforcement to give Miranda warnings during a custodial interrogation (i.e., where the alleged offender is not free to leave); entrapment; attacking the credibility of confidential informants; lack of intent or other elements of the offense; insanity defense; alibi; statute of limitations and/or mistaken identity. Read more about defenses to criminal prosecution in Columbus.
Q. Is it possible to undergo drug treatment instead of jail or prison if convicted of a drug crime in Columbus?
Many court systems in Ohio have drug courts. Drug courts were created to deal with Ohio’s drug crime problems and upon the recognition that jail or prison is not always the best solution to crimes that resulted from individuals battling drug addiction. For these reasons, Ohio drug courts permit a judge to emphasize treatment for a drug addict as an alternative to jail or prison.
The drug court may mitigate the sentencing for a drug crime offender as long as the offender agrees to comply with the terms and conditions that may be imposed by the drug court. These terms and conditions can include court ordered drug treatment programs, regular and random drug testing, and a variety of other drug rehabilitation and drug use prevention options. Drug courts also have the ability to dismiss the charges, suspend a sentence, or reduce a sentence for a drug offender.
Q. Do I need a lawyer if I have been arrested for a drug crime in Columbus?
A. I say this with sincerity when I say, you need a lawyer if you have been arrested for a drug crime in Columbus, Ohio. All drug charges are serious, and unfortunately, jail or prison is frequently a sentencing option in drug crime cases. There are very few types of drug charges where a jail or prison sentence is not a sentencing option.
Furthermore, drug charges can carry lasting consequences beyond a jail or prison term. Individuals convicted of a drug offense can often have problems with employment, student funding, academic status, military status, the right to vote, the right to hold public office, community reputation and also a potentially permanent criminal record.
Q. What is a drug defense lawyer called?
A. An attorney who represents clients charged with alleged drug crimes is called a criminal defense attorney or lawyer. Hiring a criminal defense attorney ensures specialized representation for individuals in a criminal lawsuit or facing prosecution. In cases where a defendant cannot afford representation, the court will appoint a defense lawyer called a public defender.
Q. How much does a defense lawyer cost?
A. A dedicated criminal defense attorney in Ohio will typically charge a range of $150 to $400 per hour. In comparison, the national average for a criminal defense lawyer is around $250-400 per hour. When you select a criminal defense attorney, you will review the payment options and discuss any fees that are associated with the cost of managing your case. These costs are typically paid by an upfront flat rate fee or through a retainer agreement. Depending on the type of case, either can be ideal for a client seeking criminal defense services.
Payment agreements or verbiage to avoid when selecting a criminal defense attorney:
- “Pay-As-You-Go” Agreements – pretrial preparation will require a number of hours dedicated to all facets of your unique case. If you run out of funds in the middle of your case, you will not have adequate representation which can be detrimental to the outcome of your trial.
- “Affordable Fees” – you will want a defense lawyer that can spend the proper amount of time on your case. Lawyers who advertise affordable pricing usually have to take on more clients which limits the time they can dedicate to each client. Additionally, they do not know the circumstances of your case, so they will not know what the cost will be until they understand your unique situation.
- Hidden Fees – make sure to ask your lawyer if there are any additional fees associated with the management of your case and how they handle any outside support costs. This will help you to better plan your financial expectations and limit any surprise costs.
To read more on criminal defense attorney financing options, review our in-depth page on paying for a criminal defense lawyer in Ohio.