Tampering With Drugs
If the authorities have evidence that you tampered with the packaging or contents of a prescription drug, you may face criminal drug charges. Drug tampering is considered as a serious offense in Ohio, and the authorities vigorously investigate and prosecute all suspected cases occurring within their jurisdictions.
The purpose of Ohio’s prohibition of drug tampering is twofold. First, it’s about protecting the consumers of medicine. Secondly, the law is meant to limit the ability of drug traffickers to place otherwise legal prescription drugs into the black market. With such important goals at stake, the penalties for tampering with drugs are severe. Charged as either a second or third-degree felony, a conviction will result in years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines.
Fortunately, you may be able to avoid all or some of these penalties by enlisting the help of a skilled Cincinnati drug tampering attorney. The sooner you begin planning your defense with your lawyer, the higher your chances of getting an acquittal or a case dismissal. The Cincinnati criminal defense lawyers of Luftman, Heck & Associates are ready to begin work on your case today.
Call (513) 338-1890 now for your free and confidential case consultation.
How Does Ohio Law Define Drug Tampering?
According to Ohio Code section 2925.24, drug tampering consists in deliberately doing either of the following:
- Adulterating or altering any dangerous drug or substituting any dangerous drug with another substance
- Adulterating, altering, or substituting the packaging or receptacle of a dangerous drug
Under Ohio law, the definition of a dangerous drug is broad. It encompasses any drug whose commercial package displays any if the following:
- Rx only
- Caution: Federal Law Prohibits Dispensing Without Prescription
- Caution: Federal Law Restricts This Drug To Use By Or On The Order Of A Licensed Veterinarian
- Any similarly restrictive statement
What Are the Penalties for an Ohio Drug Tampering Conviction?
In Ohio, tampering with drugs is a third-degree felony carrying a possible sentence of nine to 36 months in prison and fines reaching $10,000. But if the drug tampering results in harm to any person, the offense becomes a second-degree felony punishable by two to eight years in prison and possible fines of up to $15,000. A felony conviction involves more than just fines and prison time. In addition to these criminal penalties, you may face any of the collateral consequences listed below:
- Losing custody of your children
- Severely limited ability to gain employment or to further your education because of your status as a felon
- Inability to qualify for most licenses needed to practice professions such as law, nursing, dentistry, childcare, pharmacy, or aviation
- For immigrants, denied visa or possible deportation
- Disqualified from federal financial aid for college
- Revoked right to own or possess firearms
- Limited voting rights
What Are the Defenses to an Ohio Drug Tampering Charge?
Depending on the facts of your case and your personal circumstances, there may be one or several possible ways of defending your case. Your Cincinnati drug tampering attorney will ask for your side of the story and thoroughly review all of the evidence that the prosecutor intends to use against you. Every case is different, but some commonly available defense strategies include:
- Suppressing the evidence – If the police found the evidence of your alleged drug tampering after performing an unlawful traffic stop or a warrantless search, your lawyer may be able to have that evidence excluded from the case. Your lawyer will have a limited amount of time to file a motion to suppress, which is an official request to remove illegal evidence.
- Using an affirmative defense – This strategy involves admitting that you did tamper with drugs, but that you were justified in doing so. Ohio law specifically allows people to tamper with drugs if they have a lawful prescription and have no intent to transfer or sell the altered or repackaged drugs to anyone else.
- Proving reasonable doubt – If your lawyer can show that there is a reasonable possibility that the drug at issue is not actually dangerous, that you did not act knowingly, or that you did not actually alter or substitute the drug or its packaging, the judge will instruct the jury to acquit you.
- Negotiating a plea agreement – When there is little chance of you benefiting from the above strategies, it may not be worthwhile for you to go through the expense of a criminal trial. Instead, your lawyer can use their negotiating skills to secure the guarantees of a lenient sentence or reduced charges if you agree to plead guilty.
If you’ve been charged with drug tampering, it is likely that the prosecutor has tried to convince you to plead guilty to the charges. Do not agree before talking to an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer, as there may be several ways to lead your case to a better outcome. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have a proven track record of providing aggressive and effective defenses to our clients’ charges.