FAQ - Felony Drug Charges
Q: How serious are felony drug charges in Ohio?
A: Any drug crime charge is something you don’t want, but a felony drug conviction has serious effects on a person’s life. In Ohio, all felony drug offenses carry possible prison time, and some have mandatory prison sentences. In addition to potential prison time, these offenses carry a mandatory driver’s license suspension for up to five years and collateral consequences that may affect professional licensing, employment opportunities, insurance, student financial aid, and firearm ownership.
Q: How are felony drug offenses categorized?
A: There are many factors that go into categorizing drug cases as misdemeanors or felonies, including the type of the drug and amount of the drug. Also, offense levels and potential sentences for drug offenses can be enhanced by the existence of certain conditions, such as a previous drug conviction, committing the offense near a school, committing the offense near a juvenile, and being found to be a “Major Drug Offender”.
- Drug Possession: In Ohio, it is illegal to obtain, possess, or use a controlled substance, including prescription medications such as oxycodone and street drugs such as heroin. The level of the offense depends on the type and amount of drug possessed.
- Drug Trafficking: Ohio law prohibits selling or offering to sell a controlled substance, including prescription medications like hydrocodone and street drugs like cocaine. The level of the crime and the possible sentence is dependent on the drug and amount sold.
- Drug Cultivation: In Ohio, it is illegal to cultivate marijuana. For more information on cultivation, please see the marijuana offenses page of this website.
- Manufacturing Controlled Substances: Ohio law generally prohibits manufacturing controlled substances. This offense may be classified as a second degree felony or a first degree felony, depending on the type of drug manufactured and the amount manufactured.
- Corrupting Another With Drugs: In Ohio it is illegal to: (1) cause another person to use a controlled substance by force, stealth or deception; (2) dispense a controlled substance to another person and cause serious physical harm; (3) dispense a controlled substance to a juvenile; and (4) use a juvenile as a lookout during the commission of a felony drug offense. This offense may be classified as low as a fourth degree felony or as high as a first degree felony.
- Permitting Drug Abuse: In Ohio, it is illegal for a vehicle owner or operator to permit the vehicle to be used for the commission of a felony drug offense. It is also illegal for the owner or occupant of real estate to permit the real estate to be used for the commission of a felony drug offense. Typically, if this offense is not committed in connection with Corrupting Another with Drugs or Drug Trafficking (5th degree felony), it is a first degree misdemeanor.
- Administering Or Distributing Anabolic Steroids: In Ohio, it is a fourth degree felony to administer and dispense anabolic steroids that have not been approved by the USDA for administration to human beings.
- Tampering With Drugs: Ohio law prohibits adulterating or altering any dangerous drug or substitute a dangerous drug with another substance. It is also illegal to adulterate a package or receptacle containing a dangerous drug or substitute any package or receptacle containing any dangerous drug with another package or receptacle. This offense is classified as a third degree felony. However, if committing this offense results in physical harm to any person, this offense becomes a second degree felony.
- Drug Possession. The potential sentence depends on the type and amount of drug possessed. For example, a fifth degree felony carries a maximum of one year in prison while a first degree felony carries a maximum prison sentence of eleven years.
- Drug Trafficking. The potential sentence is dependent on the drug and amount sold. For example, a fourth degree felony carries up to 18 months in prison, and a second degree felony carries up to eight years in prison.
- Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing. For more information on cultivation, please see the marijuana offenses page of this website.
- Corrupting Another With Drugs ranges from a fourth degree felony (up to 18 months in prison) to a first degree felony (up to eleven years in prison).
- Permitting Drug Abuse: As a first degree misdemeanor, the maximum incarceration is six months in jail. As a fifth degree felony, the maximum incarceration is one year in prison.
- Administering Or Distributing Anabolic Steroids: up to 18 months in prison.
- Tampering With Drugs: up to eight years in prison.
Q: Will an attorney really help with a felony drug charge?
A: There are two primary strategies that an experienced criminal defense attorney will use to defend a felony drug charge. The first is to use a diversion program or intervention that can result in the charge being dismissed with no conviction. The second, is to review the prosecution’s evidence to evaluate case strength and possible defenses. For example, there may be issues with the prosecution’s case such as illegal search and seizure, Fifth Amendment violations, legal possession issues, chain of custody issues, etc. If a dismissal is not an option, an experienced attorney can present a defense against the charge through the court process, including hearings in front of the court, and if need be, a trial.
Shawn Dominy is a criminal defense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, and he represents clients charged with felony drug cdrimes. To learn more about Shawn Dominy, please see his attorney profile. You can also see recent case results and client reviews. If you would like to discuss how Shawn Dominy can help with your felony drug charge in Columbus or central Ohio, please call 614-717-1177 or email the Dominy Law Firm to arrange a free consultation.