Trafficking in Marijuana
Ohio law enforcement strictly prohibits marijuana trafficking, sale or delivery, and seeks prosecution of offenders without exception or compromise. Trafficking in cannabis can be a federal state offense and result in harsh penalties, including jail or prison sentences and fines.
Columbus Marijuana Trafficking Defense Lawyer
Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm can help you find the best possible outcome for your marijuana trafficking charge in Columbus, Ohio. Brian Joslyn is knowledgeable with Ohio’s marijuana laws, and will make every effort to help you avoid the most severe repercussions and penalties to your charge. Call the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation today.
Law Enforcement’s Battle Against Marijuana Trafficking in Ohio
Ohio’s government enforces stringent penalties for drug trafficking with mandatory minimum prison sentences. This means if an individual is convicted of drug trafficking in Ohio, they will face either jail or prison time. Statistics show that non-violent drug offenders receive stricter sentences than violent criminals who pose an imminent threat to society. First time drug offenders receive a sentence between one and three years, which is more than the average length of incarceration for violent offenders.
Drug trafficking statistics also demonstrate that drug offenders actually serve more time in prison for their sentences than violent criminals. Violent offenders serve an average of fifty-four percent of their sentences, while drug traffickers serve eighty-five percent of their prison terms.
In an effort to monitor and reduce marijuana-related offenses, law enforcement uses a variety of the following creative techniques.
- Informants are used who have a particular bias or a specific motivation for apprehending the alleged offender. For these reasons, informants often concede to assisting law enforcement in exchange for some personal advantage, such as the dismissal of pending charges against them.
- Investigations are conducted to seek out and arrest the alleged offender, including the use of informants, entrapment techniques or undercover work designed to induce the alleged criminal activity.
- Stakeouts or covert surveillances are engaged in, including the establishment of online hydroponic stores, the monitoring of electric bills, and the monitoring of water usage.
- Consent to search a vehicle, dwelling or other structure where the marijuana is located is often obtained. The consent to a search must be obtained with a properly executed and valid warrant, without coercion or inducement.
- Assets of alleged offender are monitored through police surveillance helicopters and thermal imaging devices.
Ohio Marijuana Trafficking Statutes
Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 2925.03, no one shall knowingly sell or offer to sell a controlled substance. The consequence of doing so can vary greatly, depending on the amount and the location of the marijuana trafficking. Trafficking marijuana is a specific intent crime as it involves an act requiring knowledge. In other words, the activity involves knowledge, purpose and an act in furtherance of possession, sale and distribution of marijuana.
Under section 2925.03 of the Ohio Revised Code, no person shall knowingly do any of the following:
- Sell or offer to sell a controlled substance.
- Prepare to ship, transport or deliver a controlled substance when the alleged offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe the controlled substance is intended for sale or resale to another person.
“Knowingly” and “Reasonable Cause” Under Ohio Laws
Ohio’s marijuana trafficking, sale or delivery laws require the elements of acting “knowingly” and having “reasonable cause.” It is important to remember the definitions of these terms if you are charged with a marijuana trafficking or cultivation offense.
- “Knowingly” means having awareness, purpose and an intent to act. Therefore, a knowing act involves deliberation and some action in furtherance of that intent.
- “Reasonable Cause” is defined by the “reasonable person standard.” This standard is based on what the average person would believe under the circumstances of a particular situation.
Ohio and Federal Marijuana Trafficking Laws
When marijuana trafficking cases involve crossing state lines, both state and federal laws are implicated. Penalties in these situations are usually governed by federal law, which have more severe consequences than state laws, particularly with regards to Schedule 1 and Schedule II drug convictions.
Convictions resulting in more than one year in prison can lead to forfeiture of real and personal property, which can involve the confiscation of automobiles, homes and other personal effects, such as jewelry and other items.
If serious bodily injury results from a marijuana trafficking conviction, the penalty is a mandatory life sentence in prison and/or fines of up to $8 million.
Penalties for Marijuana Trafficking in Ohio
The penalties for marijuana trafficking are governed by the Ohio Revised Code § 2929.13. A prison term may be imposed on a person convicted of marihuana trafficking depending on the facts of each case. Therefore, it is important to hire a Columbus trafficking in marijuana defense lawyer.
For a Schedule I or II drug, the penalty is determined by the following:
- Whether the aggravated trafficking is a felony of the fourth degree;
- Whether the offense occurred in a school vicinity or in the presence of a juvenile (a minor);
- Whether the amount of the drug exceeds or equals the bulk amount, but is less than five times the bulk amount; and/or
- Whether the offense is a fourth, third, or second degree felony.
Offense level if in Vicinity of School or Juvenile
Gift less than 20 grams
Minor Misdemeanor for 1st offense M -3 for 2nd offense
Less than 200 grams
200 grams – 1 kilogram
1 – 5 kilograms
5 – 20 kilograms
Greater than 20 kilograms
Indirect Consequences of Marijuana Trafficking
Along with the direct criminal consequences of a prison term and/or fines, marijuana trafficking can result in devastating, collateral consequences, including:
- Criminal record
- Harm to reputation in the community
- Inability to apply for certain government assistance (e.g., welfare or food stamps)
- Inability to apply for some student financial aid
- Harm to military status
- Inability to apply for and receive certain professional positions
- Denial of the right to hold public office
- Denial of the right to vote
- Jeopardizing adoption or child custody proceedings
Possible Defenses To Marijuana Trafficking
- Lack of Intent – Marijuana trafficking is a specific intent offense that involves knowledge, purpose, and a deliberate act in furtherance of the crime’s commission. This means that at the time the offense was allegedly committed, you did not have the required “guilty mind,” or criminal intent, necessary to perpetrate the offense of marijuana trafficking. Therefore, proving lack of intent can lead to a dismissal of the charges against you.
- Fourth Amendment Violations – A claim that law enforcement either conducted the search for marijuana without a warrant or with a defective warrant will trigger a motion to suppress the evidence. If your attorney is successful in presenting such a motion before the court, the charges of marijuana trafficking either will be reduced or dismissed. The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment provides for “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Any evidence seized in violation of the prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures is considered to be “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Wong Sun v. United States,371 U.S. 471(1963).
- Fifth Amendment Violations – The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits a defendant’s self-incriminating testimony. Prior to custodial interrogation, Miranda warnings must first be given to the defendant. Custodial interrogation occurs when an individual is questioned by law enforcement and the individual reasonable believes they are not at liberty to leave the custody of law enforcement. Miranda warnings include the defendant’s rights to remain silent, to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during questioning. Violations of any of these rights can lead to a dismissal of the defendant’s marijuana trafficking charges.
- Entrapment – The entrapment defense enables a defendant to demonstrate that, but for outside inducement, influence, coercion or compulsion, he or she could not form the predisposition or natural tendency to commit the offense. Entrapment requires the defendant to show the original intent for the crime’s commission originated in the mind of the entrapper and not the person falsely accused. The defendant’s burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence has to lean slightly more in the defendant’s favor. The prosecution must still prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt – a much higher, more difficult standard to meet.
- Law Enforcement/Confidential Informant Misconduct – Aside from the entrapment defense, a defendant may assert a claim of law enforcement and/or confidential informant misconduct. At times, law enforcement may enlist an informant with bias against the defendant or pending criminal charges to speak untruthfully about the defendant. In exchange, the informant can receive a reduction or dismissal of those charges. Self-interest often motivates the informant in these situations. Proven informant bias or inducement to speak falsely could lead to a reduction in the charges against you.
Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm | Columbus Marijuana Trafficking Defense Attorney
It is important to hire an experienced marijuana crimes defense attorney in Columbus who will make every effort to help you find applicable defenses or mitigating factors to your particular situation. Contact Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your marijuana charges in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.