Ohio takes the crime of selling drugs seriously. Yet if you are found to offer, sell, or distribute drugs close to a school or kids, then the offense is treated even more harshly. If you have been charged with selling drugs to or near minors in Ohio, you should contact a Columbus drug defense attorney as soon as possible. By working with a lawyer right away, you have a greater chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case and minimizing the consequences of the arrest or conviction.
If you are facing an Ohio drug charge, you have options. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help. Call us today at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Defining the Crime: Selling Drugs in Ohio
Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §2925.03 states it is illegal for any person to knowingly sell or offer to sell a controlled substance, or for an individual to prepare to ship, transport, deliver, or distribute a controlled substance when that individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe the controlled substance is intended for sale by another person. Additionally, Ohio law does not limit a “sale” to drugs exchanged for cash. Any gift, transfer, or barter for a controlled substance will be prosecuted under the law.
Ohio’s statute regarding the trafficking and distribution of controlled substances is broad. If the police find evidence a person is involved in the distribution, offer, transfer, or sale of an illegal drug in any way, he or she will be charged with a crime.
Possible Charges for Selling Drugs in Columbus
The level of offense a person will be charged with for selling, distributing, or offering an illegal substance depends on the drug, where the sale takes place, and who the individual sells or attempts to sell to. For instance, if the drug is a Schedule I or II narcotic (except for marijuana, hashish, cocaine, LSD, and controlled substance analogs), then the charge is aggravated drug trafficking, which is often a fourth-degree felony. Overall, drug trafficking and distribution charges can range from fifth- to first-degree felonies depending on the specific circumstances, punishable by:
- Fifth-degree felony: Six to 12 month in prison, up to $2,500 fine
- Fourth-degree felony: Six to 18 months in prison, up to $5,000 fine
- Third-degree felony: One to five years in prison, up to $10,000 fine
- Second-degree felony: Two to eight years in prison, up to $15,000 fine
- First-degree felony: Three to 11 years in prison, up to $20,000 fine
Penalties for Selling Drugs to or Near Minors
Selling drugs to minors or near minors is treated much more harshly than when the activity is only between, surrounded by, or visible to adults. If an individual is charged with selling, distributing, or offering drugs within the vicinity of a school or vicinity of at least one juvenile, then the charge of aggravated trafficking in drugs is a third-degree felony.
However, if the amount of drug within the individual’s possession at the time of the arrest is considered a bulk amount yet less than five times the bulk amount, and the incident occurs within the range of a school or minors, then the crime is a second-degree felony with a mandatory minimum prison sentence. When an individual is found to have between five and fifty times the bulk amount of a controlled substance near a school or minors, then it is a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
Selling Marijuana to Minors
Marijuana, hashish, cocaine, and LSD are treated slightly differently under §2925.03. An individual caught selling, trying to sell, or offering these drugs to juveniles in any way will face felony charges of different levels than other Schedule I and II drugs.
Selling marijuana is a fifth-degree felony. However, if an individual sells or distributes it near or a school or minors, they will be charged with a fourth-degree felony. If a person has between 200 and 1,000 grams of marijuana within the vicinity of a school or juveniles, then the crime is charged as a third-degree felony. This is a slightly less harsh than the crime of selling other controlled substances near or to kids, yet individuals accused of selling pot need to take the situation just as seriously as being charged with selling a harder drug.
What it Means to be Within the Vicinity of a School or Juveniles
Many times, individuals are charged with a harsher offense because the police state they were found near a school or minors. This can be confusing for defendants who had no idea they were near either a school or kids. Under ORC §2925.01(P), within “the vicinity of a school” means the individual commits the offense:
- On school premises
- In a school building
- Within 1,000 feet of the school premises’ boundaries
ORC 2925.01(BB) states an offense is within “the vicinity of a juvenile” when the individual sells or distributes drugs:
- Within 100 feet of a juvenile
- Within view of a juvenile
It does not matter whether the individual knew they were on or near a school or if they knew another person was a minor or that a child could see what was going on. Ohio’s law is written in such a way that if the prosecutor can place the defendant within a certain distance from a school or person younger than 18 years old, then this mitigating factor increases the level of the crime.
A Columbus Drug Defense Attorney is Here to Help
Drug crimes can escalate quickly from a lesser felony to a second- or first-degree felony that results in a harsh mandatory minimum prison sentence. If you have been charged with selling or offering drugs to kids or near them, do not wait to get legal help. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to minimize the potential consequences of an arrest or conviction.