In recent years, lawmakers, police agencies, and courts across the United States have taken a tougher stance on crimes related to the use of methamphetamine. They’ve cracked down on sale and purchase of the ingredients used to make meth, and imposed stiff penalties for crimes related to the drug. In Ohio, even the simple possession of methamphetamine is considered a felony drug crime.
If you’ve been charged with possession of methamphetamine, you should reach out to a methamphetamine possession lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates by calling (614) 500-3836 to learn about your legal options.
Some Facts About Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug originally derived from amphetamine for use in decongestants and bronchial inhalers. The drug acts on the central nervous system and makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, and talky. Long-term use takes a severe toll on a person’s body that includes physical changes to the brain. Effects of long-term use may include paranoia, hallucinations, impaired thinking and motor skills, memory loss, mood swings, tooth decay and tooth loss, weight loss, and skin sores.
In some very rare cases, methamphetamine may be available as a prescription drug to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or for short-term weight loss, but the vast majority of methamphetamine being used in the U.S. is manufactured illegally and possessed illicitly. The drug is classified under Ohio Rev. Code as a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and little recognized medical value. Ohio law makes it a crime to possess a Schedule II controlled substance without a valid prescription.
Illicit methamphetamine, also known on the streets as crystal meth, is abused in several forms — snorting, smoking, injecting, or ingesting. Smoking is the most common because it almost immediately delivers the drug to the bloodstream and brain to cause a high. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 1.2 million people nationwide reported in a survey having used meth in 2012. Those numbers are trending downward, but because of the immense toll that meth takes on individuals, the criminal justice system, and the health system, authorities continue to take cases of meth possession very seriously.
Penalties for Possession of Methamphetamine
When you’re convicted of possession of methamphetamine in Ohio, you face the possibility of months or years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for up to five years. A conviction will mean a permanent record as a drug felon, which will show up in background checks when you apply for a job or try to rent a place to live. You’re looking at lifelong consequences for possession of even the smallest amount of meth in Ohio.
Possession of methamphetamine is governed by Ohio Rev. Code 2925.11, the state statute that makes it a crime to possess controlled substances. As a Schedule II controlled substance, you may be convicted of aggravated possession of drugs if you’re caught in possession of methamphetamine.
Possession of methamphetamine is a felony drug crime in Ohio regardless of the amount. Jail time and fines you face upon conviction increase based on the amount of the drug in your possession. Penalties may be increased if committed near a juvenile or a school.
- Possession of less than three grams of methamphetamine is a fifth-degree felony punishable by six to 12 months incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Possession of three grams to 15 grams is a third-degree felony with the presumption of a prison term. The standard sentencing range is nine to 36 months incarceration. You also face a mandatory fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of 15 grams to 150 grams is a second-degree felony with mandatory prison time in the range of two to eight years and a mandatory fine of up to $15,000.
- Possession of 150 to 300 grams is a first-degree felony with mandatory prison time in the range of three to 11 years. Additionally, the law requires a mandatory fine of up to $20,000.
- Possession of 300 grams or more is a first-degree felony. A court may impose a possible prison sentence of 11 years. Additionally, you are classified as a major drug offender and may face a mandatory $20,000 fine.
When you’re convicted of meth possession, the law further requires that a court suspend your driver’s license for six months to five years. If you hold a professional license such as a license to practice law, medicine, nursing, dentistry, or any other profession requiring a license, the court must notify the board that oversees licensing of your profession that you’ve been convicted of a drug felony. Most professional licenses in Ohio can be suspended or revoked for conviction of a felony drug offense.
A conviction for a drug offense can have many other negative consequences on your life. When you finish serving your jail or prison time, you may find it difficult to get a job with a felony drug conviction on your record. You also may find it hard to get approved to rent an apartment. Maybe you were thinking about going back to school and trying to get a college degree, but a college or university may be reluctant to admit you. Even if they do, a drug conviction means you won’t be able to get any federal financial aid like grants or student loans. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, a drug conviction can prevent you from getting a visa, a green card, or citizenship.
Defenses to Meth Possession Charges
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have options for fighting a possession of methamphetamine charge. An experienced methamphetamine possession lawyer can investigate the facts and evidence of your case and walk you through possible defenses that may be available to you.
A methamphetamine possession lawyer may challenge the idea of possession itself. Possession can mean a couple of things under the law. There’s actual possession, when you have the controlled substance on your person, such as in your pocket or in a bag you’re carrying.
Then there’s constructive possession, which means the substance was within your reach or control. The idea of constructive possession often is applied when the meth was found someplace like the glove box of your car or in your apartment.
The prosecutor has to establish that you could retrieve the meth at any time and thereby have it in your actual possession. If the facts don’t support that — say the meth was in an apartment you share with a roommate, but locked in a box to which you had no key or access — you may have a defense to the possession charge.
Additional things the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt are that the substance is meth and that you possessed it knowing it was meth. Again, if the facts don’t support either of those premises, you may have a defense to the possession charge.
A number of other defenses a methamphetamine possession lawyer may use center on police process and your constitutional rights. They more typically involve keeping evidence out of court because process wasn’t followed or your rights were violated. However, the result of keeping evidence from being used in court often may be dismissal of your case or willingness on the part of the prosecutor to negotiate a reduction in the charge and penalties.
Some circumstances that might give rise to a defense based on process or violation of your rights include:
- The police had no probable cause to search you or arrest you
- The police failed to give you a Miranda rights warning or improperly administered the warning
- Evidence was obtained or stored improperly
- Evidence was obtained through the use of illegal wiretapping or surveillance
- Evidence was found using drug-sniffing dogs
Contact a Meth Possession Lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates
If you’ve been charged with possession of methamphetamine, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions or if you need a competent, experienced methamphetamine possession lawyer with LHA to fight for you in court, please contact us at (614) 500-3836.
For over a decade, our criminal defense attorneys in Columbus, Ohio 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.
Talk to a Columbus Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have any questions about the material or if you need an experienced, competent attorney, call the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836.