In Ohio, the act of smuggling takes place when an individual illegally transports a substance, such as money or goods, beyond a specifically prohibited point, such as a border. In drug smuggling, the item in question will either be an illegal substance, such as LSD or cocaine, or a prescribed medication that an individual does not have permission to supply to others, or move across secured facilities.
Drug smuggling in Ohio is a federal offense, similar to drug trafficking, and the two are often charged together depending on the quantity of drugs that are being smuggled. In many cases, the penalties for these two crimes are quite severe, and the federal system may even utilize specific guidelines for sentencing that include mandatory jail time and the possibility for extra penalties.
Laws and Penalties
In the state of Ohio, drug smuggling is a serious offense, which may cause those convicted to spend a significant amount of time in jail, as well as pay a substantial fine. Under the revised Ohio code, drug smuggling is determined as any attempt to move substances across a border that are classified as drugs on any level. Controlled substances when smuggled across borders are generally also charged with drug trafficking, as the amounts smuggled usually allow for an indication of the intent to traffic
Controlled substances in Ohio are classified under five levels, with level one and two substances considered to be the most dangerous, and four and five drugs to be considered less dangerous and potentially available for medical use. In a smuggling case, the quantity of drugs being transported, any further intentions such as trafficking, the type of drug in question, and prior criminal history will all be taken into account with sentencing. As a felony, drug smuggling convictions may lead to a range of penalties, including:
- For a first degree felony of drug smuggling, it is possible to receive three to eleven years in prison, and/or fines of up to $20,000.
- For a second degree felony of drug smuggling, it is possible to receive two to eight years in prison, and/or fines of up to $15,000.
- For a third degree felony of drug smuggling, it is possible to receive one to five years in prison, and/or fines of up to $10,000.
- For a fourth degree felony of drug smuggling, it is possible to receive six to eighteen months in prison, and/or fines of up to $5,000.
- For a fifth degree felony of drug smuggling, it is possible to receive six to twelve months in prison, and/or fines of up to $2,500.
Drug Smuggling Defenses
There are a variety of ways in which a defendant may work with an experienced lawyer to defend against a charge of drug smuggling, with arguments such as:
- False identity – It is possible to argue that the drugs in question did not belong to you, or that you were not aware that you were carrying them.
- Unlawful search and seizure – Ohio law permits all people to be subjected to lawful search and seizure procedures during the time of arrest. If they did not follow these lawful procedures when they arrested you, this could lower your potential sentence.
- Missing evidence – Prosecutors must be able to provide evidence that support the case of drug smuggling brought against the defendant. Lack of evidence requires a case to be dropped.
- Lack of scientific proof – Besides simply having the drugs to provide as proof, the prosecutors must also scientifically prove that the smuggled substance is a drug. Many substances might look like drugs, but may actually be harmless.
- Entrapment – Law enforcement officials are permitted to conduct sting operations, but they may not engage in acts of entrapment to force someone into the act of drug smuggling that they would not naturally commit.
- Planted substances – It is possible to argue that the drugs were planted, but this is often a very difficult defense to present successfully, as the word and input of law enforcement officials in Ohio is taken very seriously and with a great deal of respect.
Statute of Limitations
As a federal crime, the act of drug smuggling in Ohio is classed under the same statute of limitations used across the country. The statute of limitations allows five years for a complaint to be brought against the person accused of drug smuggling, and beyond that time the person cannot be charged with the crime, or indeed punished for it. If there is an indication of a conspiracy involved, the statute will begin to run down after the last conspiracy-based action.
Ohio Drug Smuggling Cases
- Inmates’ mentor charged with smuggling drugs into the Marion Correctional Institution
- Ohio troopers seize 221 pounds of marijuana in Lucas County
- Last member of Dayton heroin ring sentenced
- Former Plymouth woman gets additional jail time for smuggling anxiety and sleeping pills into jail
- Drug smugglers traveling through Ohio arrested despite ingenuity in hiding the contraband in cars in a car hauler