Many people suffer from severe addictions to prescription drugs or otherwise abuse these drugs. Ohio law does not allow people to obtain, possess, or use prescription drugs that have not been prescribed or obtained by legal means, such as medical professionals and pharmacies. Thus, if you are caught with prescription drugs and do not have a legal prescription, you can face criminal charges.
A Columbus prescription drug attorney knows how serious it is when you get caught with prescription drugs in Ohio, and they want to help you understand your legal rights and what kind of legal issues you can run into when you are caught with illegal prescription drugs.
Many prescription drugs can help people’s lives and increase their health and well-being, but when prescription drugs are used without a prescription, you are in danger of facing various drug offenses. Drug addiction can be painful and life-threatening, and addiction is the number one killer of all mental health conditions. Therefore, it’s imperative that solid and useful information is shared about these issues, including the legal ramifications.
Common Prescription Drugs People Abuse
Most drugs can be abused in some way, but there are certain drugs that people are most likely to abuse because of their properties. Unfortunately, many of these drugs are prescription drugs, and many of them are highly addictive. Opioids, for example, have been labeled an epidemic by the U.S. Department of health and human services because over eleven million people abuse this classification of drugs. Other drugs that people may abuse include various types of painkillers, depressants, anti-psychotics, and stimulants. Any drug that must be prescribed and has been illegally obtained can fall under this category. Some of these drugs will have more severe consequences than others.
In Ohio, some of the most common illegal prescription drugs people have are:
Many people who abuse these drugs begin taking the drugs legally for pain or mental health management, but these drugs can become habit-forming and lead to addiction, which can cause people to seek out these drugs illegally.
In Ohio, and across the United States, drug schedules help determine what consequences will result from drug crimes and whether crimes are felonies or misdemeanors, and at what level. There are five schedules, five being the least severe and one being the most severe. These drugs are classified based on a couple factors: legal uses and the ability to be abused.
- Schedule 1: Drugs in this classification do not have accepted medical purposes and have a high potential for abuse and dependency. Drugs in this class include LSD, Ecstasy, heroin, and Marijuana.
- Schedule 2: Schedule II drugs do have accepted medical uses, but they have a high potential for dependency and abuse. These drugs include methamphetamines like Adderall, cocaine, oxycodone, high-grade morphine, and opium.
- Schedule 3: These drugs are less abused than the schedule I and II drugs, but they can result in some physical dependency and higher psychological dependency. These drugs have some medical uses. Includes some Codeine blends, anabolic steroids, low-grade morphine, and ketamine.
- Schedule 4: These drugs are abused less than schedule III drugs; however, they are associated with some risk for dependence. These drugs also have medical uses. Includes Ativan, Xanax, Dacron, Darvocet, and Rohypnol.
- Schedule 5: Drugs in this group are less abused than schedule IV drugs. These drugs have medical uses, and they have a low risk of psychological or physical dependence. Includes Motofen, cough syrup (in low quantities), and Lyrica.
Some of the classifications of drugs have been challenged; for example, many groups suggest that marijuana should be removed from schedule I because it has started to be used medicinally and is not as dangerous as the other drugs on the list. This idea is often reflected in the legal system, and marijuana-related crimes often get lower sentences than other schedule I drugs. This discrepancy stems from the fact that the DEA is a federal body that still lists marijuana as a schedule I drugs, but some states have legalized marijuana. In Ohio, marijuana has been decriminalized in small amounts and has legalized marijuana in some instances, and legislation of marijuana laws continues to be a salient issue in Ohio).
Consequences for Prescription Drug Crimes
The consequences of a prescription drug crime can vary based on the severity and magnitude of the crime. For example, consequences become more severe when someone involves a minor in the crime, or people who have criminal histories will face higher consequences. Many people who are merely in possession of illegal prescription drugs in low quantities will face misdemeanor charges or less serious felony charges. Punishments for these crimes can include fines, imprisonment, addiction treatment, driver’s license restrictions or suspension, and a criminal record.
Generally, most people who don’t have previous drug offenses and possess prescription drugs can expect to be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which entails up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. Those who have previous drug charges can expect to be charged with a fifth-degree felony, which comes with up to $2,500 in fines and a maximum of one year in jail.
Having more than the bulk amount of drugs but less than five times that amount, you will be charged with a higher crime of aggravated possession of a controlled substance, and this charge is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies may result in up to five years in jail and a max of $10,000 in fines. IF you have more than five times the bulk of a drug but less than fifty times the bulk, your charge is bumped up to a second-degree felony, which is associated with up to eight years in jail and $15,000 in fines. Fifty times bulk or more is a first-degree felony that comes with up to ten years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines; this is a major drug offense.
Beyond just the legal consequences, people who have drug offenses face social, career, and personal consequences. Drug charges can influence your ability to work the job you want, and it can carry a social stigma as well.
How Lawyers Defend Drug Cases
There are many ways that a drug crimes attorney can fight for your interests and get the best possible legal outcomes for your case. No matter the details of your case, there are ways that a lawyer can help defend their client and seek improved outcomes. Using the Ohio law and precedents as a guide, a legal team will help you create the best strategy for your individual case.
Some things your legal team will explore when they take on your case:
- Piecing together a series of events for your case
- Finding any mitigating circumstances
- If the search that led to the discovery of the drugs was legal
- Searching for any error with warrants
- Determining if illegal surveillance was used
- Checking that your fourth-amendment rights were upheld
- Verifying that you were read your Miranda Rights
- Ensuring the legality of all evidence that was obtained
- Making sure there were no lab errors or mishandlings
By taking these steps, your legal team can help you defend yourself and put your best foot forward during the legal proceedings. Drug cases are often intimidating and have a lot of factors involved, but a good legal term will help you better understand your case and what needs to be done.
Why Hire a Drug Defense Lawyer in Ohio?
The law is not easy to understand, and drug law can become quite complicated, which is why it is so important that you seek the help of a qualified lawyer if you are facing drug charges of any kind. A lawyer is your best option if you want to get the best outcomes for your case.