Imagine a young college student at an off-campus party on a football Saturday. Their team won the game that day, and everyone is riding high on victorious school spirit. Music and laughter are flowing, and then someone pulls out some Ecstasy and starts passing the drug around. The young college student is hesitant for a moment, but everyone else is doing it so she decides to go ahead and try it. She has a bad reaction and ends up in the emergency room.
The person who gave that young student the Ecstasy may expect that he could be charged with possession if he got caught with the drug on his person, or could be in serious trouble for selling it, but what he might not know is that he faces a felony charge in Ohio just for sharing the drug with someone else. Ohio Rev. Code 2925.02 makes it a crime to corrupt another person with drugs, and that offense can be punished with years of jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and a driver’s license suspension, not to mention the ruinous effects of a felony drug conviction on your permanent record.
If you’ve been charged with corrupting another with drugs, it’s important that you talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A good lawyer may be able to use the unique facts of your case to fight the charge and possibly get it dismissed or reduced to a charge with less long-term impact on your life, your education, or your career.
Corrupting an Adult with Drugs
The first part of Ohio Rev. Code 2925.02 (1) through (3) deals with the overall crime of corrupting another with drugs.
The statute makes it a crime to:
- Use force, threat, or deception to administer drugs to someone or get them to use drugs. That could include injecting someone with heroin against their will, or giving them a tablet and telling them it’s something harmless like aspirin when it’s actually a controlled substance.
- Administer or furnish a controlled substance to another person by any means with the purpose of causing the person serious harm or causing the person to become addicted to drugs. This could include slipping a date rape drug like Rohypnol or GBC into someone’s drink with the intent of coercing sex, or being a dealer who gives someone a sample of cocaine or heroin with the intent to get him or her hooked on the drug.
- Administer or furnish a controlled substance to another person by any means with the actual result of causing someone serious harm or causing them to become addicted to drugs.
This statute sometimes is broadly interpreted by prosecutors and courts. Any act in which you expose another person to an illicit drug and that person suffers harm could result in you being charged with corrupting another with drugs — even something like sharing a joint with a friend who then gets into a car wreck while under the influence, or being pregnant while using drugs and then having an infant that suffers the effects of drug exposure in the womb.
Corrupting a Juvenile with Drugs
The second part of the statute deals with corrupting a juvenile. Under Ohio law, a juvenile is anyone under age 18. Ohio Rev. Code 2925.02 (4) makes it a crime to:
- Give or administer drugs to any juvenile at least two years younger than you
- Induce or cause a juvenile at least two years younger than you to use a controlled substance
- Induce or cause a juvenile at least two years younger than you to commit a felony drug abuse offense
- Use a juvenile as a lookout intended to prevent you from being detected or being arrested while committing a felony drug abuse offense
For the first three offenses, the juvenile must be at least two years younger than you, and you have to either know the juvenile’s age or be reckless with regard to knowledge of the juvenile’s age. This prevents the scenario where a 16-year-old shares marijuana with another 16-year-old. However, it would apply if a 17-year-old slips a date rape drug to a 15-year-old or otherwise shares an illicit drug with someone at least two years younger.
It’s important to note that while the more general part of the statute requires some harm or addiction or intent to harm or cause addiction, you may be charged with corrupting a juvenile with drugs by the mere act of sharing regardless whether any harm or addiction is the result.
The fourth offense does not require you to know the age of the juvenile and does not require a two-year age gap. If you use a minor to watch for the cops while you engage in felony drug activity, even if you’re both 17, you can be charged with corrupting a juvenile with drugs.
Corrupting a Pregnant Woman with Drugs
The Ohio General Assembly added a new provision to the corrupting another with drugs statute as of March 19, 2015. The new provision under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.02 (5) makes it a crime to furnish or administer drugs to a pregnant woman, or to induce or cause a pregnant woman to use drugs when you know the woman is pregnant, or you’re being reckless with regard to her possible pregnancy.
Jail Time and Fines
The penalties for corrupting another with drugs vary based on the type of drug and whether the offense is committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school.
Schedule I or II drugs — Corruption involving Schedule I or II drugs except marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids is a second-degree felony with mandatory prison time. Second-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
If committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or school, it’s a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are punishable by 3 to 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Schedule III, IV, or V drugs — Corruption involving Schedule III, IV, or V drugs is a second-degree felony with a presumption of prison time. The penalties for second-degree felonies include 2 to 8 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
If committed near a juvenile or school, the offense is a second-degree felony with a mandatory prison term.
Marijuana or Synthetic Cannabinoids — Corruption involving marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.
When committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or school, the offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by 12 to 60 months (or 1 to 5 years) incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine.
Other Consequences of a Corrupting with Drugs Conviction
In addition to jail time and fines, Ohio law provides that the court may suspend your driver’s license when you’re convicted of corrupting another with drugs. The court also is required to notify the board or agency issuing your professional license if you practice as a lawyer, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other licensed professional. The regulatory board may suspend or revoke your license for a felony drug conviction, depending on the policies the board has adopted regarding criminal convictions.
A felony drug conviction will be damaging to many other aspects of your life. You may find it hard to get a job or rent an apartment or to pursue higher education. If you are admitted to a college or university, a drug conviction will prohibit you from getting federal financial aid such as student loans or grants. A felony conviction also will affect your immigration status if you’re a non-citizen. You may very well be deported because of a felony drug conviction.
A charge of corrupting another with drugs is a serious matter. As noted above, a felony drug conviction can ruin your life and your career prospects. However, a seasoned criminal defense attorney may be able to help. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be ways you can fight the charge.
Some common defense strategies include:
- You didn’t give the person the drug
- The can’t prove that the “drug” was a controlled substance
- If the charge involved an adult, no serious harm or addiction was the result and there was no purpose to cause serious harm or addiction
- If the charge involved a juvenile, you didn’t know the person’s age and couldn’t reasonably have known (such as the juvenile misrepresenting his or her age)
- The police violated your constitutional rights when arresting you or gathering evidence against you
- The police used surveillance or wiretapping illegally
- The police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you
Charged with corrupting another with drugs in Columbus? Contact us.
A corrupting with drugs charge can result in months or even years of mandatory prison time and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. Your future is at stake, and you need the best defense possible. Call Luftman, Heck & Associates to speak with one of our Columbus drug attorneys. We have the experience and proven results that you need to reduce the penalties you face. Contact us at (614) 500-3836 or email us via [email protected]. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.
For over a decade, the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at LHA have successfully represented clients on criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.