Many believe drug conspiracy charges are rare, reserved for large criminal organizations, or the stuff of movies. But Ohio takes drug conspiracy charges seriously and pursues them aggressively.
Drug conspiracy occurs anytime two or more people plan a drug crime. This is considered to have happened once the agreement was made, even if the crime never occurred.
Here, we will delve into the crime of drug conspiracy in Ohio, its penalties, factors, and the importance of legal representation. By understanding drug conspiracy laws, you can hopefully avoid legal trouble.
Ohio Drug Conspiracy Laws
Ohio Revised Code 2923.01 defines drug conspiracy as any person who knowingly conspires or agrees with another to commit an offense that involves the manufacturing, selling, or distributing controlled substances.
Drug Conspiracy Examples
The statute covers a wide range of drug offenses, including possession with intent to distribute, distribution, trafficking, and manufacture of controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana.
- A group that plans to transport heroin across state lines for distribution.
- Two people agree to manufacture meth in a lab.
- Two or more individuals plan to purchase and distribute marijuana.
- A group agrees to sell cocaine at a specific location.
- An agreed-upon scheme to get and sell prescription pills with fake prescriptions.
Drug Conspiracy Penalties
The penalties for drug conspiracy in Ohio are harsh since it’s assumed you and the others involved conspired to break the law. However, your sentence will depend on the type and amount of drugs, the people involved, and your criminal history.
Most Ohio drug conspiracy charges are felonies and involve smaller amounts than most suspect.
For example, a person convicted of a drug conspiracy involving 5-9 grams of heroin could face a third-degree felony. This carries up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Additionally, penalties escalate if the accused has prior drug convictions or significant amounts.
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Fifth-Degree Felony: Up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500
- Fourth-Degree Felony: Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
- Third-Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony: Up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
- First-Degree Felony: Up to 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000
Federal Drug Conspiracy
Drug conspiracy can also be a federal crime under Title 21 U.S. Code Section 846. This outlines federal jurisdiction where individuals engage in a drug conspiracy across state lines or international borders.
Examples of federal drug conspiracy charges include:
- A group agreed to transport cocaine from Mexico to the United States.
- Individuals who plan to manufacture and distribute meth across multiple states.
- A group planning to smuggle large amounts of marijuana across the United States.
The penalties for federal drug conspiracy will still vary depending on the factors listed above, but federal drug conspiracy can be much more severe than a state crime. This is because federal cases often involve extensive drug operations that significantly impact the community.
Drug Conspiracy Is More Common Than You Think
It’s a misconception that drug conspiracies only apply to large-scale drug traffickers and cartels. If you and a friend plan to earn extra money by transporting a few pounds of marijuana to another state, you can be charged with conspiracy. It does not have to be a Breaking Bad type of drug operation.
One significant factor contributing to drug conspiracy in Ohio is the overall availability of drugs here. Ohio has several major cities, like Cincinnati, serving as Midwest drug distribution hubs. As a result, drugs are easily accessible and often sold at lower prices than in other areas, making it easier for individuals to engage in drug-related activities.
This is compounded by the fact that law enforcement policies have also contributed to the prevalence of drug conspiracy charges in Ohio. To combat drug crimes, agencies have implemented policies and tactics to identify, arrest, and prosecute drug offenses. However, these activities have, perhaps, unintentionally also led to the over-criminalization of low-level drug offenders.
Legal Representation is Vital in Drug Conspiracy Cases
Drug conspiracy is a lot more significant than crimes like drug possession or intent to distribute. If you are facing drug conspiracy charges in Ohio, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential.
A lawyer can assist you in understanding the charges, the potential penalties, and the legal process involved in a drug conspiracy case, which can be complicated and involve all sorts of evidence. They can also help identify the best defense strategy, such as challenging that you engaged in a conspiracy, negotiating a plea, or pursuing alternative sentencing.
Attack the Elements of a Drug Conspiracy
To prove that you took part in a criminal drug conspiracy in Ohio, prosecutors must prove the following:
- An agreement was made: This agreement does not have to be formal or in writing, but there must be evidence that you were involved in the planning or agreed to commit a drug crime.
- You intended to commit the offense: You knew about and intended to commit the drug offense in question, such as drug trafficking, distribution, possession with intent to sell, or manufacturing.
- An overt act happened: Perhaps the most crucial element of drug conspiracy in Ohio is that at least one person involved committed an explicit action to further the scheme. This could be something as simple as arranging the purchase of drugs or something more significant, like transporting drugs.
The overt act does not have to be illegal or successful for the drug conspiracy charge to apply. Just taking a step towards committing a drug-related offense can be enough.
A drug conspiracy charge cannot be supported if prosecutors cannot prove these elements. A defense attorney can argue there was no agreement or intent. They can demonstrate that the overt act was insufficient to prove conspiracy. Your attorney could also argue that you were unaware of the conspiracy or did not participate in it knowingly. A lawyer can also explore possible defenses, such as entrapment and illegally obtained evidence, to help your case.
Contact a Drug Lawyer ASAP
Being accused of drug conspiracy in Ohio is serious, but there are steps you can take. With an effective defense strategy, you can fight to have the charges lessened, dismissed, or prove your innocence.
If you’re facing drug charges in Cincinnati, consult the Criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP. Call (513) 338-1890 or reach out online for a free and confidential initial consultation.