If you’ve been charged with drug tampering, it’s a good idea to get the help of an experienced Columbus defense attorney. A good Columbus drug tampering lawyer may be able to spot flaws in the case against you and craft a defense strategy that could improve your outcome, either by getting your charge dismissed or your penalties reduced.
Back in the early 1980s, the nation was shocked when several people in the Chicago area died after taking over-the-counter Tylenol capsules. It turned out that someone had bought bottles of Tylenol from stores, added cyanide to the bottles, and then returned them to store shelves. The incident prompted a nationwide recall of Tylenol, the addition of tamper-resistant seals to over-the-counter drug packages, and strict laws nationwide about drug tampering. There were several suspects in over the years — even Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber” — but no one was ever charged.
Drug tampering isn’t always about trying to poison people or make them sick, as in the Tylenol case. Sometimes drugs or their packaging are tampered with in an effort to cover criminal drug activity by making the drug look like something more innocuous, such as swapping the label on a prescription pain killer to make it look like an over-the-counter drug.
In Ohio, drug tampering is a serious felony crime. The consequences can include months or years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and loss of your driver’s license, not to mention the stigma of a permanent criminal record as a drug offender — a stigma that will follow you for the rest of your life.
What is Drug Tampering?
Under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.24, drug tampering is to knowingly “adulterate or alter any dangerous drug or substitute any dangerous drug with another substance.” You also may be charged with drug tampering if you adulterate, alter, or substitute the packaging or receptacle of a dangerous drug.
Under those definitions, drug tampering could include actions such as:
- Contaminating the drug with a foreign substance, such as the Tylenol incident
- Altering the label of a controlled substance to make it look like something else
- Substituting a controlled substance for something else
Penalties for a Drug Tampering Conviction
Tampering with drugs is a third-degree felony in Ohio. The possible sentence may include nine (9) to 36 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If someone else is physically harmed because of the drug tampering, the offense is a second-degree felony that may carry a sentence of two (2) to eight (8) years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
A conviction for drug tampering results in a permanent felony record as a drug offender. There are many ways that may negatively affect your future.
- You may not be able to get hired for a job
- You may not be able to rent a house or apartment
- You may lose your professional license if you practice a profession such as law, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, or any other profession that requires a license from a state board
- If you’re not an American citizen, you may be denied an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship, or deported to your home country
- You may be denied entry into a college or university, and even if you’re admitted a drug conviction is a barrier to getting federal financial aid to pay for school
Defenses to a Drug Tampering Charge
To convict you of a drug tampering charge, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Adulterated, altered or substituted
- A dangerous drug or its package or receptacle
So, a prosecutor must prove that you did in fact perform the adulteration, alteration or substitution, AND that the substance was a dangerous drug or its package or receptacle, AND that you knew what you were doing. If the prosecutor is unable to prove any one of those things, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed or your charge reduced so that you face less serious consequences.
Ohio Rev. Code 2925.24 also allows you a defense to a drug tampering charge when the drug in question was legally prescribed to you for your own use, and you had no intention to sell or transfer the drug to anyone else. So, if you were prescribed Vicodin and scratched the trademark off the tablets, but didn’t give any of the drug to anyone else and had no intention of giving or selling it to anyone, you may have a defense to a drug tampering charge.
You also may have a defense if there were issues with how the police gathered evidence against you, conducted their investigation, or went about arresting you.
Some common issues that may be raised in drug cases include:
- The drug in question was misidentified and is not an illegal drug
- The police searched you or your property without a warrant
- The police had no probable cause to search you or your property or to arrest you
- The police used wiretapping or surveillance illegally
- The police used a drug-sniffing dog improperly
- The police didn’t administer your Miranda rights
An experienced Columbus drug tampering lawyer can discuss your options with you and help you figure out a defense strategy designed to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
Charged with tampering? Contact a Columbus drug tampering lawyer today.
If you are facing tampering with drugs charges, it’s important to know what you’re up against. Our experienced Columbus drug charge lawyers can guide you through this process and ensure that your rights are protected, providing you with the best possible defense for your case. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you’re ready to learn how we can fight for you in court, please contact us at (614) 500-3836 or email@example.com.