It may seem like common sense that if you’re caught with a substance the police believe is a controlled substance, that you should be off the hook for a criminal charge if the substance is in fact something harmless. However, there are circumstances in Ohio under which you can be charged with possession of fake drugs even when the substance in your possession is an ordinary household item like baby powder or aspirin tablets. If you are facing charges, talk to a Columbus counterfeit drugs possession lawyer from Luftman, Heck & Associates today.
Ohio Rev. Code 2925.37 makes it a serious misdemeanor crime to possess any counterfeit controlled substance. If you’re convicted, you face jail time and fines, as well as numerous other effects on your life from having a drug conviction on your permanent record. This is not a charge to take lightly, or to think will go away even when the substance in your possession was something innocuous.
If you’ve been arrested for possession of a counterfeit controlled substance, it is in your interest to consult an experienced Columbus counterfeit drugs possession lawyer about your options. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed or negotiate with prosecutors for a lesser charge with lighter penalties.
What are Counterfeit Drugs?
Counterfeit drugs are defined in Ohio Rev. Code 2925 as:
- Any drug that is labeled with a trade name or trademark that you don’t have the right to use.
- Any substance without a mark or label that you represent to be a controlled substance, and that was made, processed, packed, or distributed by someone other than the person who actually made, processed, packed, or distributed the substance.
- Any substance that you represent to be a controlled substance, but is actually is a different controlled substance or not a controlled substance at all.
- Any substance that is not a controlled substance that a reasonable person would believe is a controlled substance because it looks like a controlled substance, or is packaged, labeled, or distributed like a controlled substance, or is sold at a price that would make someone believe it’s a controlled substance.
It’s important to understand that under these definitions, you can be charged with possession of a counterfeit controlled substance even when the substance in your possession is something that is legal to possess. What matters is that the substance looks like a controlled substance or is being passed off as a controlled substance.
For example, if you were carrying a bottle that was labeled to look like Oxycontin using the manufacturer’s trademark, you could be charged with possession of a counterfeit controlled substance. Likewise trying to pass off a packet of talcum powder as cocaine would fit under these definitions. Even though the talcum powder isn’t an illicit drug, you could be charged with possession of counterfeit drugs for representing it as a drug.
Statutory Penalties and Other Consequences
Possession of counterfeit controlled substances is a first-degree misdemeanor under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.37. A misdemeanor of that class is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. When you commit a drug offense in the vicinity of a juvenile, you may face stiffer penalties including increase jail time and higher fines.
Because possession of a counterfeit controlled substance is categorized as a drug crime, you face a lifelong criminal record and the stigma of a drug conviction. Even a misdemeanor drug offense on your record may affect your ability to get a job or keep the job you have. It also may cause problems when you try to rent an apartment.
If you’re a college student or thinking about getting a college degree, a drug conviction will prevent you from getting any federal financial aid to pay for school. It might cause the college to deny you admission.
Additionally, if you’re not a United States citizen, a drug offense can affect your immigration status. Your green card may be revoked or your application for a visa, green card, or citizenship may be denied. Depending on your current immigration status, you may be deported to your home country for commission of a drug offense.
Defenses for Possession of Fake Drugs
If you’ve been charged with possession of fake drugs, there are several ways that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charge.
Under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.37, you’re prohibited from knowing possession of any counterfeit controlled substance. This language presents a couple of possible defenses based on the concept of “knowing.” First of all, if you were searched and the substance was found on your person, you may have a defense if you didn’t know that it was there. For example, if a friend slipped that bag of talcum powder into your backpack without telling you, your attorney can argue that you weren’t in knowing possession.
Depending on the circumstances, your Columbus counterfeit drugs possession lawyer also may be able to attack the idea that the substance was in your possession at all. Possession can take two forms: actual and constructive. Actual possession is having the substance on your person, such as in your backpack or in your pocket. Constructive possession is a little more vague, and can include the substance being found in your apartment or your car.
To prove constructive possession, a prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance was within your “dominion and control,” or in other words that you had immediate access to it or the ability to take actual possession. Say the substance was found in a search of your apartment, but you have a roommate and it was found in your roommate’s bedroom. The prosecutor would have a harder time establishing that the substance was in your possession rather than your roommate’s.
A number of other possible defenses include:
- The police searched you or your property without a warrant
- The police violated your rights when conducting the search or when arresting you
- The police had no probable cause to search or arrest you
- The police didn’t follow proper procedures when collecting or storing evidence, and the evidence shouldn’t be admitted into court
- The police searched or arrested you based on illegal wiretapping or surveillance
- The police didn’t give you a Miranda rights warning when they took you into custody
- Questioning the use of drug-sniffing dogs to obtain evidence against you
Charged with possession? Contact a Columbus counterfeit drugs possession lawyer today.
If you have been charged with possession of fake drugs, having an experienced Columbus drug defense attorney on your side to evaluate the evidence against you and fight to reduce your charges is key. If convicted of possession of fake drugs, you face months in prison, expensive fines, and permanent damage to your criminal record. Call us at (614) 500-3836 or via email at [email protected] for a free consultation. We are available 24/7.
For over a decade, the Columbus criminal defense attorneys 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.