Drug trafficking is an incredibly complex type of violation. In Ohio, trafficking covers not just the movement of controlled substances, but also selling, intending to sell, manufacturing, and cultivating of these substances. Specifically, they have divided it into two different scenarios:
- Selling or offering to sell a drug that is classed as a controlled substance
- Preparing a drug that is classed as a controlled substance to be shipped, delivered, transported, or distributed
Laws and Penalties
Ohio covers drug trafficking under ORC 2925.11, ORC 3719.41 version 1, and ORC 3719.41 version 2. The actual charges that a defendant will face range from a misdemeanor to a felony. These cases are incredibly complex, as the charges will vary depending on the substance that is involved, the amount of drugs that were involved, and where the drugs were found.
Ohio does follow the federal classification system of schedules in order to determine how serious the crime is, and what its sentence should be. They have, however, added some modifications to these schedules, not only considering the classification of the drug, but also the situation, the quantity, prior drug offenses, and more.
The drug schedules that Ohio recognizes are:
- I – The most dangerous drugs that are highly addictive and do not have medicinal purposes. These include ecstasy, LSD, and GHB.
- II – Drugs with a high abuse potential but do have medicinal purposes. These include cocaine, opium, methadone, and amphetamines.
- III – Drugs like Schedule II drugs but with a less serious abuse potential. These include depressants, ketamine, hydrocodone, codeine, testosterone, and anabolic steroids.
- IV – Drugs with a low abuse risk and valid medicinal purpose. These include some tranquilizers and sedatives.
- V – Drugs with an extreme low chance of abuse and valid medicinal purposes. These include over the counter codeine, and others.
In Ohio, the schedule of the drug is the first important factor in determining charges and penalty. Another very important factor is whether the offense was committed anywhere near juveniles, in which case the sentence will automatically become more severe. Drug trafficking is almost always a felony and punishments are as follows:
- 1st degree felony – prison sentence of three to 11 years and/or fine of up to $20,000
- 2nd degree felony – prison sentence of two to eight years and/or fine of up to $15,000
- 3rd degree felony – prison sentence of one to five years and/or fine of up to $10,000
- 4th degree felony – prison sentence of six to 18 months and/or fine of up to $5,000
- 5th degree felony – prison sentence of six to 12 months and/or fine of up to $2,500
What is termed as ‘simple drug trafficking’ occurs in schedules II, III and IV drugs. If the amount that was trafficked was less than the legally quantified bulk, it would be a 5th degree felony, unless it was near minors, in which case it becomes a 4th degree felony. If the amount was greater, but no more than five times greater, it is a 4th degree felony, unless it was near minors, in which case it becomes a 3rd degree felony. If the amount was over five times the bulk, but less than 50 times, it is a 3rd degree felony, or 2nd degree if done near minors. If the amount was over 50 times greater than the bulk, it is a 2nd degree felony, or 1st degree if done near minors.
Interestingly, in Ohio, those convicted of drug trafficking will have their driver’s license suspended. Additionally, if they have any professional license, this will be suspended or revoked.
Drug Trafficking Defenses
It is very difficult to mount a defense against drug trafficking. Most lawyers will try to demonstrate that the drugs were for personal use only. They will also try to demonstrate that the drugs were found during illegitimate stops and searches. If they can demonstrate this, the case will be thrown out of court, irrespective of whether the defendants had drugs on them. This is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to prove as law enforcement professionals usually stick to the rules for that specific reason.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in drug trafficking cases in Ohio is six years. However, this can be tolled if the defendant is out of state.
Drug Trafficking Cases
- Former Ohio State football player Ray Small gets 4 years in drug case
- Family massacred in rural Ohio community found to have illegal marijuana plants
- Cleveland ‘heroin kingpin’ charged with drug trafficking
- Ohio teen dealer to be sentenced in drug trafficking case
- Mason teen indicted in LSD, designer drug trafficking case