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Ohio Drug Trafficking Laws

Updated: March 17, 2021
Nicholas Gounaris
By Nicholas Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

ohio drug trafficking laws

Ohio, like all other states and the federal government, has enacted laws that outlaw drug trafficking. Drug trafficking and aggravated drug trafficking in Ohio are serious crimes that carry lengthy prison sentences. Police and prosecutors seek long prison terms for anyone convicted of drug trafficking in Ohio.

If you were charged with drug trafficking in Ohio, you need expert legal help. In Ohio, our award-winning drug trafficking defense lawyers with Gounaris Abboud, LPA, have handled numerous criminal trials. We rely on a combined 50 years of legal experience handling complicated drug investigations to help you achieve a successful result.

Drug Trafficking Ohio

Drug trafficking charges receive significant prison sentences because of the intent to sell or deliver drugs. Ohio law defines trafficking in narcotics—which can include about any controlled substance or controlled substance analog—as knowingly:

  • Selling,
  • Offering to sell,
  • Preparing for shipment,
  • Shipping,
  • Transporting,
  • Preparing for distribution, or 
  • Distributing.

The law does not include a requirement that money must be exchanged for drug possession to qualify as trafficking. Additionally, Ohio law considers a person guilty of trafficking even if they had a mixture of an active drug and non-narcotic substance that formed a compound. 

Ohio Drug Trafficking Penalties

The sentencing scheme for drug trafficking in Ohio is extremely complicated. The particular sentences a person faces depend on the amount of drugs seized and the accused’s prior criminal record. 

Perhaps the most significant factor that determines possible jail time is the substance seized by police. The nature of the substance determines if the charges are trafficking or aggravated trafficking.

Aggravated Trafficking

The police may charge aggravated trafficking when the substance seized is a Schedule I or II drug. However, aggravating trafficking excludes the following substances:

  • Cocaine,
  • Marijuana,
  • LSD,
  • Hashish, 
  • Heroin, and
  • Controlled substance analogs.

Aggravated trafficking is a fourth-degree felony in Ohio. The maximum penalty is a jail sentence between six and 18 months. The court may assess a fine of no more than $5,000. 

Other Drug Trafficking Charges

Trafficking in substances defined by Schedule III, IV, or V is a fifth-degree felony. The maximum penalty is a 12-month prison term and a fine of no more than $2,500.

As with aggravated trafficking, drug trafficking charges become more serious, depending on the drug’s weight, called the bulk amount. Additionally, the court may impose stricter penalties if the crime occurred near a school or a juvenile.

Cocaine Trafficking Charges

Trafficking in cocaine is a fifth-degree felony unless the crime occurred near a school or a juvenile. Additionally, the penalty for trafficking cocaine significantly increases depending on the weight of the drug. Penalties for cocaine trafficking range from six months to 11 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.

Heroin Trafficking

Heroin is a lethal drug. Consequently, Ohio state law carries significant punishments for tiny amounts of heroin. A person is guilty of heroin trafficking for 10 doses or less than one gram. Heroin trafficking of that small amount is a fifth-degree felony.

The penalties can include an 11-year prison sentence and a $20,000 fine. Once again, the drug’s weight and the crime location determine the severity of the punishment.

Secondary Consequences of Drug Trafficking

A person convicted of drug trafficking is guilty of a felony. A felony conviction remains on the person’s criminal history. Additionally, subsequent offenders face enhanced prison sentences. The state will also suspend the person’s driver license. 

A conviction for a drug trafficking crime in Ohio affects a person’s life in other ways. The person might experience difficulty finding employment or getting a college degree, or they may face immigration consequences. 

How Can a Drug Trafficking Defense Help?

Experienced drug trafficking defense attorneys understand how to defend those charges aggressively. The facts of the case will determine the defense strategies used. Some strategies include:

  • Arguing motions to suppress the evidence based on constitutional violations;
  • Arguing motions to dismiss based on lack of evidence; 
  • Taking the case to trial because the prosecution’s evidence is weak; and
  • Negotiating the case to a lesser charge.

Working closely with your Ohio drug trafficking defense attorney will help develop the right defense strategy for you.

Call Now to Learn More About Ohio Drug Trafficking Laws

You need a seasoned and dedicated drug trafficking defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible. The complexity of Ohio’s drug trafficking laws requires the help of criminal defense lawyers with decades of experience and a proven track record of success. 

With 50 years of combined criminal defense experience and a reputation for results, you can count on the lawyers at Gounaris Abboud, LPA. Call 937-222-1515 right now to discuss your Ohio drug trafficking case. 

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