If you happen to be charged or investigated for possession, you should consult with an experienced Cincinnati drug possesion lawyer immediately. (If you are a family member or a loved one, you are also welcome to reach out on behalf of someone being held in police custody.) Why? Because every second matters. Every conversation or interaction with law enforcement matters. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we know that your future and your rights are at stake. Don’t delay on protecting yourself from the State’s charges and penalties.
Though it is one of the more common drug offenses we see on a regular basis here in Ohio, possession of a controlled substance is a serious criminal charge that has vast implications if you’re convicted. Under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2925.11, it is defined as knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using a controlled substance. Drugs that are considered to be controlled substances include prescription medications, medications without a prescription, illegal drugs, natural substances, and chemicals.
Schedule of Controlled Substances
One of the first things you should know about drug charges is that they are divided into schedules, which are determined based on risk of addiction, potential danger, and dependency, as well as whether or not they have been determined to have medical value. Ohio’s schedule of controlled substances is addressed in ORC 3719.41, but it falls in line with what the Drug Enforcement Agency has put forth as its schedule of drugs.
Schedule I – Substances that have a high risk of addiction and abuse and no medical value. Examples include marijuana, LSD, heroin, ecstasy, and hallucinogens.
Schedule II – Substances that have a high risk for abuse, addiction and dependency but have limited recognized medical uses. Examples include GHB, morphone, oxycodone, methadone, codeine, opium, cocaine, methamphetamines, and some hallucinogenic substances.
Schedule III – Substances that have a moderate risk of abuse, addiction and dependency, but also are accepted for medical purposes. Examples include anabolic steroids, hydrocodone, testosterone, ketamine, barbituric acid, and some stimulants depressants.
Schedule IV – Substances that have a slight risk of dependency and have known, acceptable medical uses. Examples include Xanax, Valium, clonazepam, some narcotics, depressants, and sedatives.
Schedule V – Substances that have a very low risk of addiction, abuse and dependency and are commonly used for medical purposes. Examples include some stimulants and medications with small amounts of narcotics.
Possession of Controlled Substances Penalties
Ohio possession of controlled substances breakdown
- Possession of Schedule I or II substance
less than the bulk amount – fifth degree felony with at least 6 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines
- Possession of Schedule III, IV, V substance
less than the bulk amount – first degree misdemeanor with a maximum of 60 days in jail and $1,000 in fines
Controlled substances in Ohio are further categorized into bulk amounts, which are then used to determine what charge and penalties an individual will face. A bulk amount is 10 grams or more of a substance, or 25 unit doses of a compound, mixture, preparation, or substance that contains any Schedule I opiate, opium derivative, or cocaine (ORC 2925.01).
There’s a possibility that you will be charged not only at the state level but also at the federal level. In Ohio, a possession conviction’s penalties are dependent on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. These could include factors like the amount of substance you possessed, the type of substance, where the offense occurred, and more.
Schedule I and II Controlled Substances
If you are convicted for possessing a Schedule I or II controlled substance, this is considered an aggravated possession of a controlled substance. The specific penalties will be based on the amount of the controlled substance that you possessed.
- If you are found to possess less than the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you may be charged with a fifth-degree felony. If convicted, you face up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
- If you are found to possess the bulk amount but less than five times the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, you face up to three (3) years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- If you are found to possess five times the bulk amount but less than 50 times the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you may be charged with a second-degree felony. This comes with penalties of up to eight (8) years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
- If you are found to possess 50 times the bulk amount of a controlled substance but less than 100 times the bulk amount, you will likely be charged with a first-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 11 years in prison and fines up to $20,000 if convicted.
- If you are found to possess 100 times or more than the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you will be charged with a first-degree felony. You face at minimum 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines if convicted.
Schedule III, IV, and V Controlled Substances
Below are the penalties you face if convicted of a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance.
- If you are found to possess less than the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you will likely be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. For a first offense, you face up to 60 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. For second, third, and subsequent offenses, you will be charged with a fifth-degree felony; the penalties if convicted include up to one (1) year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
- If you are found to possess the bulk amount but less than 5 times the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you will likely be charged with a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, you face up to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
- If you are found to possess five times the bulk amount but less than 50 times the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you will likely be charged with a third-degree felony. If you are convicted of this offense, you face up to three (3) years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- If you are found to possess at least 50 times the bulk amount of a controlled substance, you will likely be charged with a second-degree felony. If convicted, you are looking at up to eight (8) years in prison in addition to fines of up to $15,000.
Ohio drug laws are complex and nuanced, so it’s important to have a Cincinnati defense lawyer on your side.
You face additional consequences if convicted of a drug crime:
- Suspension of driving privileges
- Trouble maintaining or finding employment
- Trouble obtaining a mortgage
- Difficulty passing background checks
- Possible loss of custodial rights
Defending Possession of Controlled Substance Charges
If you’re facing a possession charge, you’re probably wondering how an attorney can help. We know that sometimes things happen – you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, something is misconstrued, or perhaps there’s an explanation for the situation. You may be a medical marijuana patient. As experienced Cincinnati drug crime attorneys, we will go over this with you, request police reports and any footage available, and begin building a defense to fight aggressively on your behalf. Many times we will look for errors in the arrest or charge itself:
- Was the search warrant issued with probable cause?
- Were you searched illegally or in violation of your constitutional rights?
- Were your Fourth Amendment rights violated?
- Were you subject to illegal surveillance?
- Were your Miranda rights violated?
- Was all the evidence against you obtained legally?
- Were lab results and analysis handled properly?
If you are facing your first conviction of felony drug possession in Ohio, the court may be more lenient with your sentence. A clean criminal record can and will work to your advantage. However, no matter your situation, we will fight for a reduction in charges and penalties.