Individuals charged with drug trafficking in Ohio face severe penalties if they are convicted. The penalties may include fines, forfeiture of property, prison sentences and license suspensions.
Drug trafficking is defined as knowingly selling or offering to sell a controlled substance or a controlled substance analog. A person also commits the offense of drug trafficking by shipping, transporting, delivering, or preparing a controlled substance (or controlled substance analog) for shipment, transportation or delivery when the person has reason to believe the recipient intends to sell the controlled substance.
The seller can even be convicted of drug trafficking if no money changes hands. The definition of a “sale” includes a barter, exchange, transfer and even a gift.
A controlled substance is defined as a drug, compound, mixture or substance included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of the Ohio Revised Code and the United States Attorney General’s Office.
Many prescription medications are included in the schedules of controlled substances. Therefore, if a person knowingly sells or offers to sell a prescription medication that is in one of those schedules, that person may be convicted of drug trafficking.
The potential sentences for drug trafficking depend on the type of drug and the amount of the drug. For example, trafficking a small amount of marijuana is a fifth-degree felony, punishable by six months to 12 months in prison, whereas trafficking 27 grams or more of cocaine is a first-degree felony punishable by three to 11 years in prison. In some instances, a prison sentence is mandatory.
The court may also impose a fine for trafficking and the amount of the fine depends on the level of the offense. For example, a fifth-degree felony carries a fine of up to $2,500, and a first-degree felony carries a fine of up to $20,000. The court may also order the defendant to pay court costs, costs associated with any jail time, and costs associated with the investigation into the trafficking offense.
In addition to fines and court costs, the court may order the convicted trafficker to forfeit the proceeds from the drug trafficking. The court may also order the forfeiture of property used in committing the drug trafficking offense.
If a person is convicted of drug trafficking, the court may also suspend that person’s driver’s license for up to five years.
Additionally, the court must transmit a certified copy of the conviction to the licensing board or agency that has the authority to suspend or revoke a professional license if the convicted person has one, such as a license to practice medicine or law.
How an attorney can help
An attorney can develop an effective strategy for addressing drug trafficking charges. First, the attorney should explain the court process, so you know exactly what to expect in court. Second, the attorney can investigate the facts of the case and conduct legal research. Based on the investigation and research, the attorney may file motions to suppress evidence. Next, the attorney will negotiate with the prosecuting attorney in an effort to reach an acceptable plea agreement. If an acceptable agreement is not reached, the attorney will represent you at a trial. If you are found guilty of an offense or plead guilty to an offense, the attorney can present mitigation to the judge to help obtain a lenient sentence.
Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.
Shawn Dominy is a criminal defense attorney in Columbus and the founder of the Dominy Law Firm, LLC. He has been practicing law since 1997, and his practice is limited to criminal defense. He represents clients in Columbus and the central Ohio area. For more information, see his firm’s website: https://www.dominylaw.com/.