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Columbus Drug Abuse Charge Lawyer

Have You Been Charged with Felony Drug Abuse? Call LHA for a Free Consult: (614) 500-3836.

If you’ve been charged with one of the many types of felony drug abuse charges in Ohio, it’s strongly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced Columbus drug charge attorney instead of trying to go it alone. Felony charges are always serious, but with drug charges, you may be facing additional penalties if a prosecutor can prove you committed the offense near a juvenile or a school, and you risk losing your driver’s license for years in addition to significant prison time and fines. An experienced Columbus drug abuse charge lawyer may be able to help you avoid the penalties you face.

In Ohio law, “drug abuse” is a term that describes a variety of drug-related offenses related to the possession, manufacturing, sale, or distribution of illicit drugs. A number of those offenses are felonies, and when you’re convicted you’ll have a felony drug abuse offense on your permanent criminal record. With a felony drug abuse conviction on your record, you face more serious penalties if you’re convicted of a second or subsequent offense later.

What is Felony Drug Abuse?

Simply put, felony drug abuse is defined as any drug abuse offense that would be a felony in Ohio or any other state, or under federal law. Ohio Rev. Code 2925 defines drug abuse offenses as any violation of a list of assorted offenses.

The ones that may be felonies under Ohio law include:

  • Theft of Drugs (Ohio Rev. Code 2913.02) — This offense involves stealing any dangerous drug from the owner. Theft of drugs typically is a fourth-degree felony, but is a third-degree felony if there’s you have any previous felony drug abuse conviction.
  • Corrupting Another with Drugs (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.02) — There are a number of behaviors that are defined as corrupting another with drugs. They can include examples such as giving someone drugs who is harmed by an overdose, giving drugs to a juvenile, or using deception to give someone drugs such as telling someone the drug is something harmless when in fact it’s an illegal drug. Corrupting another with drugs may be a fourth, third, second, or first-degree felony depending on the circumstances and the drug involved whether the offense was committed near a school or juvenile.
  • Drug Trafficking (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.03) — Trafficking boils down to unlawfully selling, offering to sell, distributing, or preparing for transportation any controlled substance. This offense may be a fifth, fourth, third, second, or first-degree felony depending on the drug involved, the quantity of the drug, and whether the offense was committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school.
  • Manufacturing a Controlled Substance or Cultivating Marijuana (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.04) — This involves making an illegal drug or growing marijuana. Manufacturing a controlled substance can be a third, second, or first-degree felony depending on the type of drug. Cultivating marijuana can be a fourth, second, or first-degree felony when large amounts are involved. The degree of felony for both offenses is affected by the quantity of the drug and whether the offense is committed near a school or juvenile.
  • Illegal Assembly or Possession of Chemicals for Manufacturing Drugs (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.041) — This offense involves having in your possession one or more of the chemical components to make illegal drugs, or assembling those components with the intent of manufacturing the drug. This offense typically is a third-degree felony unless committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or school, in which case it becomes a second-degree felony.
  • Funding Drug or Marijuana Trafficking (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.05) — When you knowingly provide money or objects of value to another person for the purpose of having that person obtain illegal drugs, you may be charged with funding drug trafficking. This offense may be a third, second, or first-degree felony depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved.
  • Illegal Administration of Anabolic Steroids (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.06) — This offense involves administering, prescribing, or distributing any unapproved anabolic steroid medication. It’s a fourth-degree felony.
  • Possession of Controlled Substances (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.11) — Possessing illegal drugs can fall anywhere on the range of felonies from fifth-degree to first-degree. The severity of the charge is affected by the type and amount of the drug involved. Some forms of this offense involving small quantities of certain substances may be misdemeanors.
  • Permitting Drug Abuse (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.12) — You can be charged with permitting drug abuse when you allow any real property or vehicle you own, including a car, boat, or plane, for activities defined as drug abuse in Ohio Rev. Code 2925. Generally this offense is a serious misdemeanor, but it may be a fifth-degree felony when the underlying drug abuse offense is corrupting another with drugs or drug trafficking.
  • Deception to Obtain a Dangerous Drug (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.22) — In a nutshell, this offense is about using deception to get a drug prescription or to get a prescription drug dispensed. A conviction can be anything from a fifth-degree felony to a first-degree felony, depending on the quantity and type of drug involved.
  • Illegal Processing of Drug Documents (Ohio Rev. Code 2925. 23) — Essentially, this offense involves faking a prescription. It can be a fifth or fourth-degree felony, depending on the type of drug involved.
  • Tampering with Drugs (Ohio Rev. Code 2925. 24) — This offense involves altering or adulterating any dangerous drug or dangerous drug packaging. It is a third-degree felony, but if the tampering causes physical harm to someone it becomes a second-degree felony.
  • Abusing Harmful Intoxicants (Ohio Rev. Code 2925. 31) — This offense involves unlawfully possessing or using a harmful intoxicant to get high, such as illegally and obtaining laughing gas. It’s typically a serious misdemeanor offense, but can be charged as a fifth-degree felony if you have a previous drug abuse conviction.
  • Trafficking in Harmful Intoxicants (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.32) — This offense involves dispensing or distributing the harmful intoxicant to someone else. For example, if a dental assistant gives a friend some nitrous oxide gas so that that person can get high, the dental assistant might be charged with trafficking in harmful intoxicants. The offense is a fifth-degree felony unless you have a previous drug abuse conviction, in which case it may be a fourth-degree felony.
  • Illegal Dispensing of Drug Samples (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.36) — If you give someone a drug sample when you’re not authorized to do so, you may be charged with illegal dispensing of drug samples. That could include an example such as a pharmaceutical sales rep who gives samples of narcotic pain medicine to a friend who doesn’t have a prescription for the drug. This offense is a fifth-degree felony when a Schedule I or II drug is involved, or a fourth-degree felony when committed near a school or a juvenile. For Schedule III, IV, or V drugs the offense is a misdemeanor.
  • Counterfeit Controlled Substance Offenses (Ohio Rev. Code 2925.37) — These offenses relate to the possession, manufacture, sale, or delivery of fake drugs or devices used to produce a fake trademark on a counterfeit drug. Possession of counterfeit drugs is a serious misdemeanor, but the other offenses listed under this statute are fifth-degree or fourth-degree felonies, depending on the nature of the charge.

Penalties for Felony Drug Abuse

Felony drug abuse isn’t really a charge on its own with its own penalties. The penalties you face will depend on the underlying charge, such as drug trafficking or tampering with drugs, and what degree of felony is assigned to that charge as well as any specific penalties imposed by statute for that offense. If you’re convicted of a charge designated as a felony drug abuse offense, you face stiffer penalties if you’re charged with another drug abuse offense in the future.

In general, felony penalties include:

Prison Time

The typical sentencing range for felonies under Ohio Rev. Code 2929.14 is:

  • First-Degree Felony — 3 to 11 years
  • Second-Degree Felony — 2 to 8 years
  • Third-Degree Felony — 9 to 36 months
  • Fourth-Degree Felony — 6 to 18 months
  • Fifth-Degree Felony — 6 to 12 months

Some felony drug abuse offenses impose mandatory prison time when you’re convicted. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can discuss with you the sentencing range and any mandatory sentencing provisions for your individual charges.

Fines

The statutory fines for felony convictions in Ohio are:

  • First-Degree Felony — up to $20,000
  • Second-Degree Felony — up to $15,000
  • Third-Degree Felony — up to $10,000
  • Fourth-Degree Felony — up to $5,000
  • Fifth-Degree Felony — up to $2,500

For the most part, fines may be at the discretion of the court with Ohio Rev. Code 2929.18 setting maximum amounts that may be imposed per felony type. Some offenses require the court to impose the maximum fine. Your defense lawyer can discuss with you what kinds of fines you might expect if convicted of your specific charge or charges.

Drivers License Suspension

Most felony drug abuse offenses include a provision that a judge may suspend or revoke your driver’s license.

Forfeiture of Criminal Proceeds

One penalty that is specific to felony drug abuse offenses is the forfeiture of property related to the offense on conviction. Ohio Rev. Code 2925.42. The idea is that you shouldn’t profit from a felony drug abuse offense, so the statute allows the court in lieu of the usual felony fines to impose a fine when you plead guilty or are convicted of up to twice the gross profits or proceeds you received from the felony drug abuse activity. For example, if you plead guilty to or are convicted of drug trafficking and there’s evidence to prove you received $50,000 in proceeds from selling illicit drugs, you could be fined $100,000 — well more than the $20,000 maximum felony fine in Ohio Rev. Code 2929.18.

Other Consequences

If you’re convicted of a felony drug abuse offense, there are a number of other negative effects you’re likely to experience as a result of now having a permanent criminal drug history.

Some possible consequences include:

  • Failing to pass background checks for job or rental housing applications
  • Denial of immigration visa, green card, or citizenship application and deportation to your home country if you’re not a U.S. resident
  • Loss of your professional license if you’re a doctor, lawyer, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other licensed professional
  • Loss of your commercial driver’s license
  • Denial of admission to a college or university and ineligibility to receive federal financial aid for higher education

Defenses to Felony Drug Abuse

Because the term “felony drug abuse” can mean so many different drug crimes, how your lawyer approaches your defense will very much be specific to your individual charges and circumstances. When your lawyer is fighting a possession charge on your behalf, he or she is likely to employ different strategies than when fighting a trafficking or corrupting another with drugs charge.

However, there are some common themes in defense of drug cases, and your lawyer may apply one of these to your case:

  • The prosecutor can’t prove that the drug was an illegal controlled substance
  • The police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you
  • The police had no probable cause to search you or your property
  • The police didn’t get a warrant before searching you or your property
  • The police used illegal surveillance or wiretapping against you
  • The police violated your constitutional rights

In Ohio, it’s a crime under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.13 to knowingly allow anyone to use your residence, land, rental property, or vehicle to commit a felony drug abuse offense. For purposes of the offense, a vehicle includes a car, boat, airplane, locomotive, or any other vehicle legally defined as a vehicle under Ohio law.

You can be charged if you’re leasing the house or apartment or merely operating the vehicle. What matters is that you’re in charge of or have control over the place or vehicle where the felony drug activity occurred. The statute specifically includes not only the owner of the place or vehicle, but also other people who might have control. That includes:

  • Vehicle operators
  • Persons in charge of a vehicle
  • Lessees
  • Occupants
  • People in custody or control of a property

In Ohio, it’s a crime under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.13 to knowingly allow anyone to use your residence, land, rental property, or vehicle to commit a felony drug abuse offense. For purposes of the offense, a vehicle includes a car, boat, airplane, locomotive, or any other vehicle legally defined as a vehicle under Ohio law.

You can be charged if you’re leasing the house or apartment or merely operating the vehicle. What matters is that you’re in charge of or have control over the place or vehicle where the felony drug activity occurred. The statute specifically includes not only the owner of the place or vehicle, but also other people who might have control. That includes:

  • Vehicle operators
  • Persons in charge of a vehicle
  • Lessees
  • Occupants
  • People in custody or control of a property

Permitting Drug Abuse

Let’s say you’re a landlord who owns rental houses near the Ohio State University campus in Columbus. You write it into your leases that your tenants aren’t allowed to do anything illegal on the premises you’re renting. Later on, you learn that one of your tenants is growing marijuana plants in a bedroom closet. The tenant has always paid on time and otherwise taken care of the place, so you don’t take steps to evict him over the pot plants and continue to rent to him knowing that he’s engaging in illegal drug activity. If the police bust your tenant for marijuana cultivation, you also could be charged with permitting drug abuse under Ohio law.

A permitting drug abuse charge also could apply in a scenario where you’re a student is leasing an apartment and yours is the sole name on the lease. You’re struggling to pay the rent a bit, so you find a roommate but don’t add the roommate to the lease. Then you learn your new roommate is a pot dealer. You don’t use pot yourself, but you decide that what your roommate does is her own business. As the lessee who has legal custody of the premises, you could be charged with permitting drug abuse.

A charge of permitting drug abuse can have serious consequences in Ohio that include months of incarceration, significant fines, and loss of your driver’s license. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may find there are ways to fight the charge.

Penalties for Permitting Drug Abuse

Under many circumstances, permitting drug abuse is a first-degree misdemeanor — the most serious class of misdemeanor crimes. If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail, and may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

When the underlying drug abuse offense you’re alleged to have allowed is drug trafficking or corrupting another with drugs, then permitting drug abuse is a fifth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

When you’re convicted of permitting drug abuse, a court is required to suspend your driver’s license for anywhere from 6 months to 5 years regardless of whether the conviction is for a misdemeanor or a felony. That includes a commercial driver’s license if you have one.

If you hold a professional license, the court is required to report your drug conviction to the board overseeing the type of license you hold. Depending on the policies it has adopted, the board may opt to suspend or revoke your license to practice your profession.

Other Consequences

Jail time, fines, and loss of your driver’s license aren’t the only negative consequences you face if you’re convicted of permitting drug abuse. You’ll have a permanent criminal record that may affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment.

Additionally, any drug conviction will cause you to lose your eligibility for federal financial aid to pay for school if you’re a college student or were thinking about enrolling in a degree program.

If you’re not an American citizen, a drug conviction can affect your immigration status, and may result in deportation especially if it’s a felony.

Defenses to Permitting Drug Abuse

To make their case against you, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the following:

  • Felony drug abuse activity occurred
  • You knew about it
  • You allowed it
  • You were in charge of or had control over the place or vehicle

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can look at each of those elements and find the holes in the prosecutor’s case that might secure you a dismissal or a reduction in your charge so that you face less serious penalties. If the drug activity was misdemeanor marijuana possession, then the prosecutor can’t prove that felony drug abuse activity occurred.

If you were merely a passenger in a vehicle where drug activity happened, the prosecutor likely can’t prove that you were in charge of the vehicle or had control over it. Likewise, if you didn’t know about the drug activity or can demonstrate that you told the other person or people to stop, the prosecutor may not be able to prove that you knowingly allowed the drug activity.

In drug cases, there often are issues involving police process and your constitutional rights that may give your defense lawyer an opening to fight your charge. Some common defenses include:

  • The police failed to administer your Miranda rights warning
  • The police had no probable cause to search you or your property
  • The police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you
  • The police failed to get a warrant before searching you or your property
  • The police used illegal wiretapping or surveillance

Typically, what these arguments accomplish is to get evidence that is tainted by botched police procedure kept out of court so that it can’t be used against you. When the prosecutor can’t use evidence, they can’t prove their case.

Let’s say you’re a landlord who owns rental houses near the Ohio State University campus in Columbus. You write it into your leases that your tenants aren’t allowed to do anything illegal on the premises you’re renting. Later on, you learn that one of your tenants is growing marijuana plants in a bedroom closet. The tenant has always paid on time and otherwise taken care of the place, so you don’t take steps to evict him over the pot plants and continue to rent to him knowing that he’s engaging in illegal drug activity. If the police bust your tenant for marijuana cultivation, you also could be charged with permitting drug abuse under Ohio law.

A permitting drug abuse charge also could apply in a scenario where you’re a student is leasing an apartment and yours is the sole name on the lease. You’re struggling to pay the rent a bit, so you find a roommate but don’t add the roommate to the lease. Then you learn your new roommate is a pot dealer. You don’t use pot yourself, but you decide that what your roommate does is her own business. As the lessee who has legal custody of the premises, you could be charged with permitting drug abuse.

A charge of permitting drug abuse can have serious consequences in Ohio that include months of incarceration, significant fines, and loss of your driver’s license. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may find there are ways to fight the charge.

Penalties for Permitting Drug Abuse

Under many circumstances, permitting drug abuse is a first-degree misdemeanor — the most serious class of misdemeanor crimes. If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail, and may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

When the underlying drug abuse offense you’re alleged to have allowed is drug trafficking or corrupting another with drugs, then permitting drug abuse is a fifth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

When you’re convicted of permitting drug abuse, a court is required to suspend your driver’s license for anywhere from 6 months to 5 years regardless of whether the conviction is for a misdemeanor or a felony. That includes a commercial driver’s license if you have one.

If you hold a professional license, the court is required to report your drug conviction to the board overseeing the type of license you hold. Depending on the policies it has adopted, the board may opt to suspend or revoke your license to practice your profession.

Other Consequences

Jail time, fines, and loss of your driver’s license aren’t the only negative consequences you face if you’re convicted of permitting drug abuse. You’ll have a permanent criminal record that may affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment.

Additionally, any drug conviction will cause you to lose your eligibility for federal financial aid to pay for school if you’re a college student or were thinking about enrolling in a degree program.

If you’re not an American citizen, a drug conviction can affect your immigration status, and may result in deportation especially if it’s a felony.

Defenses to Permitting Drug Abuse

To make their case against you, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the following:

  • Felony drug abuse activity occurred
  • You knew about it
  • You allowed it
  • You were in charge of or had control over the place or vehicle

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can look at each of those elements and find the holes in the prosecutor’s case that might secure you a dismissal or a reduction in your charge so that you face less serious penalties. If the drug activity was misdemeanor marijuana possession, then the prosecutor can’t prove that felony drug abuse activity occurred.

If you were merely a passenger in a vehicle where drug activity happened, the prosecutor likely can’t prove that you were in charge of the vehicle or had control over it. Likewise, if you didn’t know about the drug activity or can demonstrate that you told the other person or people to stop, the prosecutor may not be able to prove that you knowingly allowed the drug activity.

In drug cases, there often are issues involving police process and your constitutional rights that may give your defense lawyer an opening to fight your charge. Some common defenses include:

  • The police failed to administer your Miranda rights warning
  • The police had no probable cause to search you or your property
  • The police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you
  • The police failed to get a warrant before searching you or your property
  • The police used illegal wiretapping or surveillance

Typically, what these arguments accomplish is to get evidence that is tainted by botched police procedure kept out of court so that it can’t be used against you. When the prosecutor can’t use evidence, they can’t prove their case.

Call a Columbus Drug Abuse Charge Lawyer Today

If you’ve been charged with drug abuse, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced attorney to fight for you in court, please contact us at (614) 500-3836 or via email at [email protected].

For over a decade, the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at LHA have successfully represented clients on criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.

Talk to a Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have any questions about the material or if you need an experienced, competent attorney, call the Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836.

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