Cleveland Drug Crime Lawyer

A drug crime conviction could mean harsh penalties, including hefty fines, lengthy prison or jail terms, and stringent probation requirements. Drug crimes can be categorized as a felony or a misdemeanor, based on the specifics of your case. Whether your drug crime qualifies as a felony or a misdemeanor will significantly affect the penalties you could face.

For this reason, it’s important to work with a skilled Cleveland criminal defense lawyer who can best represent your best interests, advocate for you, and seek the dismissal of your charges, a not-guilty verdict, a favorable plea bargain, or a favorable sentence.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, you should act swiftly to protect your rights and start working on your defense strategy. Don’t hesitate to contact the Cleveland drug crime lawyer at Patituce & Associates to discuss your case.

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Types of Drug Crimes

Here are the types of cases our Cleveland drug crime lawyers handle.

Possession

Possession of illegal drugs is the most basic and common drug offense in Ohio. Possession of any controlled substance is a serious criminal offense and getting charged does not require proof of intent or proof of ownership. Holding onto someone else’s drugs could result in criminal charges for the possessor.

Some of the drugs that are considered controlled substances include illegal drugs, certain prescription medications, some natural substances, certain medications without a prescription, and controlled chemicals.

Prescription Fraud

You can be charged with prescription fraud when you’re found to have controlled prescription drugs without a valid prescription from an authorized and licensed medical professional, or when the amount of prescription drugs in your possession is more than what you are allowed to have.

In Ohio, prescription drugs fall into several categories under the State’s Schedule of Controlled Substances, which essentially classifies drugs based on how addictive and dangerous they are. Valium, Xanax, and some sedatives are classified as schedule IV substances, while OxyContin is categorized as a Schedule II substance.

Cultivation / Manufacturing

Drug manufacturing is a broad term used to encompass the manufacture, cultivation, or engagement in the production process of a controlled substance. You will likely face extensive fines, prison time, suspension of your driver’s license, and other potential long-term consequences like losing your job or facing difficulties obtaining employment.

In case you’re charged with drug cultivation or manufacturing under the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2925.04, you might also be charged under federal law.

Trafficking

Drug trafficking is defined as knowingly doing either of the following.

Selling or Offering to Sell a Controlled Substance

Preparing for shipment, transportation, distribution, delivery, or taking part in the distribution of a controlled substance when you know or have a reasonable cause to believe that the substance is intended for sale or resale to another person.

Drug trafficking usually involves controlled substances that fall under schedule III, IV, or V in the Ohio drug schedule. Cases involving substances classified under Schedule I or II are charged as aggravated drug trafficking.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Chemicals

You don’t have to possess drugs to be charged with a drug crime. Possession of drug paraphernalia and more than legally specified limits of certain precursor chemicals used to produce drugs is illegal. Drug paraphernalia includes syringes, bongs, measuring instruments, scales, certain kinds of containers, and much more.

Drugs & DUI

Drunk driving isn’t the only way you could be charged with DUI/DWI. In line with the full legal phrasing, driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence is a catchall for many different substances with the potential of impairing a driver. This may include many different kinds of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and prescription medication.

If a law enforcement officer has enough reason to believe that you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if they are over-the-counter medicines or prescription drugs, they can order chemical testing.

However, regardless of the specifics behind your DUI stop or arrest, an experienced drug crimes attorney can help you fight the charges brought against you. If you have been charged with a DUI in Cleveland or the surrounding areas, you should talk to a lawyer before you discuss your case with anyone else.

A drug graphic

Penalties for Drug Crimes in Ohio

It’s important to know the possible penalties you could be facing if you’re convicted of a drug crime. Keep in mind that you could be facing a harsher sentence in case there are aggravating factors accompanying your charge, such as being close to a school zone or having a weapon at the time of the arrest.

  • Minor Misdemeanor: Fines not exceeding $150
  • Fourth-Degree Misdemeanor: A maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $250
  • Third-Degree Misdemeanor: A maximum of 60 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $500
  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor: A maximum of days in jail and a fine not exceeding $750
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: A maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000
  • Fifth-Degree Felony: A maximum of 12 months imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $2,500
  • Fourth-Degree Felony: A maximum of 18 months imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $5,000
  • Third-Degree Felony: A maximum of five years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $10,000
  • Second-Degree Felony: A maximum of eight years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $15,000
  • First-Degree Felony: A maximum of 11 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $20,000

It’s worth noting that these are just the terms for incarceration and fines. You may also face probation, mandatory drug treatment, and even have your license suspended for a given period.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Drug Charge in Ohio

If you were arrested and charged with manufacturing, possession, cultivation, or trafficking drugs, you will be charged either with a misdemeanor or a felony drug charge.

Misdemeanor

Drug misdemeanors are generally less serious than felonies and carry lesser punishments. Misdemeanor classifications range from small misdemeanors to first-degree misdemeanors. First-degree misdemeanors carry the harshest punishments.

Offenses: Misdemeanor drug charges include the possession of small quantities of illegal substances, cultivation of less than 200 mg of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Punishments: The punishment for misdemeanors is generally mild, and may include mandatory drug treatment, fines, suspension of driver’s license, and community service. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months of jail time and fines of up to $1,000.

Other consequences: Unless your attorney can help you work out a deal, a misdemeanor will end up as a permanent criminal record. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, it could lead to deportation or removal from the country.

Felony

Felonies are the most serious drug offenses. They are classified by degrees, with first-degree felonies being the most serious crimes, and therefore carry the harshest punishments.

Offenses: Examples of drug felonies include possession of huge quantities of illicit drugs with the intent to sell, manufacturing or cultivating huge quantities of drugs, and trafficking drugs across state lines. Some misdemeanors are easily elevated to felonies where children or firearms are involved.

Punishment: Drug crime felonies can be punished by up to 10 years imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines. A conviction could also lead to your license getting suspended for a minimum of 6 months.

Other consequences: Aside from the consequences that come with a misdemeanor, a felony conviction will carry more effects. For instance, you could be prohibited from owning firearms or even voting. And if you’re not a citizen, you could get deported from the country.

a woman meeting with a cleveland drug crime lawyer

Can a Drug Conviction Be Expunged in Ohio?

Even after you have completed your punishment and sentence, a drug conviction could make your life much harder than before. However, there’s hope – you might be able to wipe the conviction from your record.

You might be eligible to have your previous drug crime conviction expunged from your records after a waiting period as outlined below.

  • Misdemeanors: 1 year
  • One felony: 3 years
  • Two felonies: 4 years
  • Three, four, or five felonies: 5 years

There are other complicated eligibility requirements to keep in mind. For instance, any felony conviction should be non-violent, not involve a minor, and not involve a sex crime.

It’s also possible to have your record expunged if you were not convicted. If your charges were dismissed or you ended up being acquitted, there will still be a record of the case. Talk to us today about getting that record expunged as soon as possible.

Possible Defenses in a Drug Crimes Case - Patituce & Associates Cleveland Drug Crimes Lawyer

Possible Defenses in Drug Crimes Cases

Here are the common defenses in our drug crimes cases:

Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects all U.S. citizens against unwarranted searches or seizures. For instance, if a police officer stops you for a traffic violation and drugs are sitting on the passenger side in plain view, these drugs can be used as evidence.

However, if they are in the glove compartment or the trunk, that could be termed as an unlawful search and seizure. If this right was violated in any way, the charges could be dropped.

The Drugs Were Not in Your Possession

Possession has a major role in drug cases. The police don’t have to necessarily find drugs directly in your possession or on your body to charge you with possession. For instance, if the police come to your home and find drugs on the table, every person in the room could be charged with possession. A good lawyer will work out ways to prove that you did not have access to or control of the drugs.

Entrapment

Although it’s legal for law enforcement to go undercover or create a string operation, entrapment happens when the informants or officers induce a suspect to commit a crime that they otherwise wouldn’t have committed.

Proving Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

To get convicted, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were actually in possession of the illegal substance in question. An aggressive criminal defense lawyer can help make this challenging for the prosecution side by building a strong defense.

We can examine everything from the procedure the police used to make the arrest to the investigation phase. If we uncover any violations of your constitutional rights, it could be enough to get your charges dismissed. Our team can also argue for dismissal if the police are unable to prove that you were in actual possession of the illicit drugs.

Otherwise, we could pursue other options, including community control or drug court, pretrial diversion, and mandatory inpatient rehab. We can also provide counsel about technical legal issues like actual possession or constructive possession of drugs.

How Much Will Hiring a Cleveland Drug Crime Lawyer Cost?

The legal costs for retaining a Cleveland criminal defense lawyer will vary based on the case. Every case is unique and talking to a knowledgeable lawyer with extensive experience in Ohio drug crime laws is the ideal way of determining how much it will cost you.

Still, several factors determine the attorney fees for your drug crime case. The lawyer’s experience and skill in defending criminal matters is one of them. Some of the other most significant factors that determine the total cost include the following.

  • The severity of the charges
  • The complexity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it
  • The potential penalties involved
  • The amount of research and investigation required
  • The possibility of the case going to trial or resolving out of court
  • The number of pre-trial motions needed

An experienced Cleveland drug crime lawyer will want to establish this information before discussing with you how much it will cost to hire them.

Consult With an Experienced Cleveland Drug Offense Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one was charged with a drug crime in Ohio, you should ideally talk to an experienced Cleveland drug crime lawyer as soon as possible. This will help ensure that your rights are protected and give you the best chance of winning the case.

Don’t take chances with your life and freedom – you want to work with a defense lawyer that has handled many drug charge cases, and can provide knowledgeable, professional, and aggressive representation.

At Patituce & Associates, we will use our extensive experience with Ohio criminal law to explore the different possibilities for minimizing the penalties you face, and if possible, getting the charges dismissed altogether.

Our team has extensive experience defending clients in Cleveland and throughout Ohio facing misdemeanor and felony drug charges. If you’re facing drug charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cleveland criminal defense lawyers at Patituce & Associates to schedule a free consultation by calling 440-471-7784 or using our contact form.

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