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Drug Trafficking & Distribution

When you are charged with drug trafficking in Ohio, you face some very serious consequences. Drug trafficking is a felony offense regardless of how much of the drug you were alleged to have trafficked, and can fall anywhere on the spectrum of felonies from fifth-degree to first-degree. You may face a prison sentence of months or years of incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, loss of your driver’s license, and a permanent record as a criminal drug offender.

If you’ve been charged with drug trafficking, it’s going to be critical to your future that you seek the help of experienced and dedicated Columbus drug lawyers who can mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, there may be avenues through which you can fight the charge and ultimately get it reduced to a lesser offense or get it dismissed.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Ohio Rev. Code 2925.03 makes it a crime to knowingly “sell or offer to sell a controlled substance or controlled substance analog” unless you’re a licensed pharmacist or health professional legally authorized to do so. Controlled substances are those defined in Ohio’s schedules of controlled substances, and generally include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, marijuana, LSD, PCP, and prescription drugs such as Valium, oxycodone, or hydrocodone.

While it may seem like common sense that selling a drug means to exchange it for money, the definition of drug trafficking in Ohio isn’t always that straightforward. Under Ohio Rev. Code 3719, “selling” a drug also can encompass giving, transferring, or bartering a controlled substance. Money doesn’t necessarily have to change hands for a charge of drug trafficking.

In Ohio, drug trafficking also encompasses activities surrounding the sale of drugs, including preparing drugs for shipment; shipping, transporting, or delivering the drugs; preparing drugs for distribution, or distributing them when you know the drugs are intended for sale. So if you’re the person who packages cocaine and hands it off to another person to be sold, you can be charged with drug trafficking under Ohio law.

Drug Trafficking Penalties

The penalties you may face for a drug trafficking conviction vary widely depending on the circumstances of your case, including the type of drug involves, the amount of the drug, and whether the activity is alleged to have happened in the vicinity of a school or a juvenile. Ohio Rev. Code 2925.03 addresses several forms of drug trafficking: aggravated drug trafficking, drug trafficking, marijuana trafficking, cocaine trafficking, LSD trafficking, heroin trafficking, hashish trafficking, and trafficking in controlled substance analogs.

Aggravated Drug Trafficking

You may be charged with aggravated drug trafficking when the drug is a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, except for marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin, hashish, or a controlled substance analog. In general, aggravated drug trafficking is a fourth-degree felony that may be punished by 6 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

However, the statute details circumstances when aggravated drug trafficking may fall into another class of felony and carry different, and usually more severe, penalties. Those include:

  • When the offense is committed near a school or a juvenile, it can be charged as a third-degree felony and may be punished by 9 to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • When the amount of the drug involved equals the bulk weight as defined in Ohio Rev. Code 2925.01 or is up to 5 times the bulk weight, the offense is a third-degree felony punishable by a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have two or more felony drug abuse convictions, it’s mandatory that you serve prison time for the drug trafficking conviction. If committed near a school or juvenile, it becomes a second-degree felony that may be punished by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • When the amount of the drug involved is 5 to 50 times the bulk amount, the offense is a second-degree felony that may be punished by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Some prison time is mandatory. If the offense was committed in the vicinity of a school or juvenile, aggravated drug trafficking is a first-degree felony punishable by a mandatory prison sentence in the range of 3 to 11 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • When the amount of the drug involved is 50 to 100 times the bulk amount, the offense is a first-degree felony regardless of whether it was committed near a school or juvenile. Penalties may include a mandatory prison sentence of 3 to 11 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • When the amount of drug being trafficked is 100 times the bulk amount or more, the offense is a first-degree felony and a court is required to impose the maximum prison sentence of 11 years. Additionally, you face a fine of up to $20,000 and being labeled a major drug offender.

Drug Trafficking

When the drug involved is a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance, you may be charged with drug trafficking as opposed to aggravated drug trafficking. Generally, drug trafficking is a fifth-degree felony that may be punished by a 6 to 12 month prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. Similar to aggravated drug trafficking, the charge may be a more serious felony with more strict penalties if committed near a school or a juvenile, or when large quantities of a drug are being trafficked.

  • When committed near a school or juvenile, drug trafficking is a fourth-degree felony and may be punished by a 6 to 18 month prison sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • When the amount of the drug being trafficked is equal to the bulk amount or up to 5 times the bulk amount, the offense is a fourth-degree felony with a possible sentence of 6 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a third-degree felony punishable by a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • When the amount involved is 5 to 50 times the bulk amount, drug trafficking is a third-degree felony with a possible 9 to 36 month sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. When committed near a juvenile or school, it’s a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of 2 to 8 years and a fine of up to $15,000. There is a presumption that prison time will be served.
  • When the amount of the drug being trafficked is 50 times the bulk amount or greater, the offense is a second-degree felony, with a mandatory prison sentence in the range of 2 to 8 years and a fine of up to $15,000. When committed near a juvenile or school, the offense is a first-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 3 to 11 years and a possible fine of up to $20,000.

Marijuana Trafficking

Marijuana trafficking generally is a fifth-degree felony with a possible sentence of 6 to 12 months and a possible fine of up to $2,500. However, there are circumstances when the charge may be more serious.

  • When committed near a school or juvenile, marijuana trafficking is a fourth-degree felony with a possible sentence of 6 to 18 months in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
  • When the amount of marijuana involved is 200 to 1,000 grams, the offense is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000. When committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • When the amount involved is 1,000 to 5,000 grams, the offense is a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months and a possible fine of up to $10,000. If committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, the offense is a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of 2 to 8 years and a possible fine of up to $15,000. There is a presumption that prison time will be served.
  • When the offense involves 5,000 to 20,000 grams of marijuana, trafficking is a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months and a presumption that prison time will be served. The possible fine is up to $10,000. When committed near a school or a juvenile, the offense is a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of 2 to 8 years and a presumption that prison time will be served. The possible fine is $15,000.
  • When the offense involves more 20,000 to 40,000 grams, the offense is a second-degree felony with a mandatory sentence of 5 to 8 years and a possible fine of up to $15,000. If committed near a juvenile or a school, the offense is a first-degree felony with a mandatory sentence of 11 years and a possible fine of up to $20,000.
  • When the offense involves more than 40,000 grams of marijuana, trafficking is a second-degree felony with a mandatory 8-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $15,000. When committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $20,000.

The only circumstance in which marijuana trafficking is not a felony is when it involves a gift of 20 grams or less of the drug. In that event, a first offense is a minor misdemeanor and a second offense is a third-degree misdemeanor. If committed near a juvenile or school, it’s a third-degree misdemeanor on a first offense.

Cocaine Trafficking

Cocaine trafficking is a fifth-degree felony when the amount involved is relatively small. A fifth-degree felony is punishable by a possible sentence of 6 to 12 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500. The penalties for cocaine trafficking increase when the offense is committed near a school or a juvenile, and when larger quantities of the drug are trafficked.

  • When the basic offense of cocaine trafficking is committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a fourth-degree felony. The possible penalties include a 6 to 18-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • When the amount of the drug involved is 5 to 10 grams, cocaine trafficking is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail or a fine of up to $5,000. If the trafficking happens near a school or juvenile, it’s a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. There is a presumption that jail time will be served.
  • When the cocaine trafficking offense involves 10 to 20 grams of the drug, the offense is a third-degree felony punishable by 9 to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, with a presumption that some time will be served. If you have two or more prior felony drug abuse convictions, a prison sentence in that range is mandatory. If the offense was committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, it’s a second-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 2 to 8 years, and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Trafficking in 20 to 27 grams of cocaine is a second-degree felony punishable with a mandatory sentence of 2 to 8 years and a fine of up to $15,000. When committed near a juvenile or a school, this level of cocaine trafficking is a first-degree felony with a mandatory prison sentence between 3 and 11 years, and a possible fine of up to $20,000.
  • If the amount of the drug involved is 27 to 100 grams, cocaine trafficking is a first-degree felony regardless of whether it happened near a school or juvenile. A court is required to impose a sentence within the range of 3 to 11 years. You also may face a fine of up to $20,000.
  • When the cocaine trafficking involves 100 grams or more, the offense is a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $20,000. You also will be labeled a major drug offender.

LSD Trafficking

LSD is a dangerous hallucinogen, and trafficking in small amounts less than 10 solid doses or less than 1 gram of liquid is a fifth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The offense is a fourth-degree felony when committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, and may be punished with 6 to 18 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. As the amount of LSD involved increases, so do the penalties for trafficking under Ohio law.

  • When the amount involved is 10 to 50 doses, or 1 to 5 grams of liquid, LSD trafficking is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The offense is a third-degree felony with a presumption of prison time served. The sentencing range is 9 to 36 months and the possible maximum fine is $10,000.
  • When the amount involved is 50 to 250 solid doses or 5 to 25 grams of liquid, the offense is a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. Prison time is mandatory if you have two or more previous felony drug abuse convictions. When committed near a school or juvenile, the offense is a second-degree felony with a mandatory prison sentence in the range of 2 to 8 years and a possible fine of up to $15,000.
  • When the amount involved is 250 to 1,000 solid doses or 25 to 100 grams of liquid, LSD trafficking is a second-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 2 to 8 years, and a fine of up to $15,000. When committed near a juvenile or school, it’s a first-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 3 to 11 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • When the amount involved is 1,000 to 5,000 solid doses or 100 to 500 grams of liquid, the offense is a first-degree felony regardless of where it’s committed. The sentence includes a mandatory prison term between 3 and 11 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • If the amount of LSD involved is more than 5,000 doses or more than 500 grams of liquid, the offense is a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $20,000. You will also be labeled a major drug offender.

Heroin Trafficking

Trafficking in small amounts of heroin less than 10 doses or less than 1 gram is a fifth-degree felony in Ohio. The possible sentence includes 6 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. When committed near a juvenile or school, trafficking in that quantity of heroin is a fourth-degree felony punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. When larger amounts are involved, the degree of felony and corresponding penalties become more harsh.

  • Trafficking in 10 to 50 doses or 1 to 5 grams of heroin is a fourth-degree felony punishable by a sentence of 6 to 18 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. When committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a third-degree felony with a presumption of a prison term in the range of 9 to 36 months, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Trafficking in 50 to 100 doses or 5 to 10 grams of heroin is a third-degree felony with a presumption of a 9 to 36-month prison sentence, and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense is a second-degree felony with a presumption of a 2 to 8 year sentence, and a fine of up to $15,000, when committed near a juvenile or school.
  • Trafficking in 100 to 500 doses or 10 to 50 grams of heroin is a second-degree felony with a mandatory prison sentence in the range of 2 to 8 years, and a fine of up to $15,000. The offense is a first-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 3 to 11 years, and a fine of up to $20,000, when committed near a juvenile or school.
  • Trafficking in 500 to 2,500 doses or 50 to 250 grams of heroin is a first-degree felony regardless of where it’s committed. A court is required to impose a sentence in the range of 3 to 11 years. You also may face a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Trafficking in more than 2,500 doses or more than 250 grams of heroin is a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison term and a fine of up to $20,000.

Hashish Trafficking

Trafficking in the cannabis extract known as hashish is a fifth-degree felony in Ohio when amounts less than 10 solid grams or 2 liquid grams are involved. The penalty includes a possible 6 to 12-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. If the trafficking occurs in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, the offense is a fourth-degree felony and may be punished with 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Similar to other trafficking penalties, the potential sentence for trafficking in hashish becomes more severe as larger amounts of the drug are involved.

  • Trafficking in 10 to 50 solid grams or 2 to 10 liquid grams of hashish is a fourth-degree felony in Ohio, with a possible sentence of 6 to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000. When committed near a school or juvenile, the offense is a third-degree felony punishable by 9 to 36 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Trafficking in 50 to 250 solid grams or 10 to 50 liquid grams of hashish is a third-degree felony. Upon conviction, you may be sentenced to 9 to 36 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense was committed near a juvenile or school, it’s a second-degree felony with a presumption of a 2 to 8-year prison term, and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Trafficking in 250 to 1,000 solid grams or 50 to 200 liquid grams of hashish is a third-degree felony with a presumption of a prison term of 9 to 36 months. You also may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. When the trafficking occurs near a school or juvenile, it’s a second-degree felony with a presumption of a 2 to 8-year prison term, and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Trafficking in 1,000 to 2,000 solid grams or 200 to 400 liquid grams of hashish is a second-degree felony with a mandatory sentence in the range of 5 to 8 years. If committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a first-degree felony punishable with a mandatory 11-year prison term, and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Trafficking in more than 2,000 solid grams or 400 liquid grams of hashish is a second-degree felony with a mandatory 8-year prison term, and a fine of up to $15,000. When committed near a school or juvenile, it’s a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison term, and a fine of up to $20,000.

Controlled Substance Analogs Trafficking

Substances that are substantially similar to those listed in Schedules I or II are known as controlled substance analogs, and trafficking in these similar substances also can result in serious consequences. The basic offense for trafficking in less than 10 grams of a controlled substance analog is a fifth-degree felony and may result in a sentence of 6 to 12 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500. When committed near a juvenile or school, the offense is a fourth-degree felony and can carry a sentence of 6 to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000. However, trafficking in larger amounts of a controlled substance analog may result in longer prison terms and larger fines.

  • Trafficking in 10 to 20 grams of a controlled substance analog is a fourth-degree felony with a possible sentence of 6 to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000. When committed in the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, the offense is a third-degree felony with a presumption of a prison sentence in the range of 9 to 36 months, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Trafficking in 20 to 30 grams of a controlled substance analog is a third-degree felony with a presumption of a 9 to 36-month prison sentence, and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense occurred near a school or a juvenile, it’s a second-degree felony with a presumption of a 2 to 8-year prison term, and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Trafficking in 30 to 40 grams of a controlled substance analog is a second-degree felony with a mandatory 2 to 8-year prison sentence, and a fine of up to $15,000. If committed near a school or a juvenile, it’s first-degree felony with a mandatory 3 to 11-year prison sentence, and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Trafficking in 40 to 50 grams of a controlled substance analog is a first-degree felony regardless of where it’s committed. The penalty includes a mandatory 3 to 11-year prison sentence, and a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Trafficking in 50 grams or more of a controlled substance analog is a first-degree felony with a mandatory 11-year prison sentence. The penalty also may include up to a $20,000 fine.

Other Consequences of a Drug Trafficking Conviction

A conviction for a drug trafficking offense in Ohio can carry many negative consequences in addition to the possibility of months or years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Under current Ohio law, a conviction for a drug offense also means possibly losing your driver’s license — even if your offense had nothing to do with driving. That includes a commercial driver’s license if you drive for a living.

Drug convictions, especially felonies such as drug trafficking or aggravated drug trafficking, can make it hard to get a job or rent a place to live, which in turn makes it much more challenging to re-establish your life after you’ve served your time. Drug convictions also are a barrier to getting federal financial aid to go to college, and to getting a visa, green card or citizenship.

If you have one of the dozens of types of professional licenses to practice a profession in Ohio, a felony drug conviction must be reported to the licensing board and may result in the loss of your professional license and your livelihood.

Drug Trafficking Defenses

Drug trafficking is a very serious offense in Ohio, and requires a serious and thoughtful defense strategy crafted by experienced Columbus drug lawyers. Your defense should be highly individualized based on the facts, evidence, and law in your specific case. Through a vigorous defense, your attorney may be able to get your drug trafficking charge reduced to a lesser offense with lighter penalties, or get it dismissed altogether.

Some common strategies for tackling drug cases can include:

  • The suppression of evidence gathered by police using illegal means such as warrantless searches, wiretapping, or surveillance
  • The suppression of evidence because police mishandled the collection or storage of evidence
  • The suppression of evidence because it was obtained through the use of drug-sniffing dogs
  • The suppression of evidence obtained through an illegal traffic stop
  • Making the argument that police had no probable cause to search or arrest you, and your case should be dismissed because your constitutional rights were violated
  • Police failed to read your Miranda rights
  • The substance you are alleged to have been trafficking was misidentified
Contact us today!

Charged with drug trafficking? Contact us.

If you or someone you know has been charged with drug trafficking or is being investigated for a drug trafficking charge, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Columbus drug lawyers today. We can learn what evidence state and federal law enforcement has against you and begin preparing the strongest defense possible. Call us now at or email us via advice@columbuscriminalattorney.com.

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