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Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail in Ohio?

Drug Crimes

May 13, 2024

Ohio has relaxed some of its drug laws in recent years, particularly those laws concerning marijuana possession. However, many drug charges still carry hefty penalties, even for first-time offenders. These penalties often include jail or prison sentences, particularly in cases involving drugs other than marijuana.

Drug Possession Laws in Ohio

Ohio law defines possession of a controlled substance as obtaining, possessing, or using illicit substances. The penalties associated with a drug possession conviction depend on the type and amount of the drug in question. State law categorizes different drugs into “schedules,” which follow federal guidelines under the Controlled Substances Act. The five drug schedules break down as follows:

  • Schedule I – These drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States. Heroin, LSD, and marijuana are three examples of Schedule I drugs.
  • Schedule II – These drugs also have a high potential for abuse but may have some accepted medical uses with severe restrictions. These substances are considered dangerous and can lead to significant psychological or physical dependence.
  • Schedule III – This schedule includes drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Their abuse potential is less than Schedule I and II drugs but more than Schedule IV.
  • Schedule IV – Drugs in this category have a low potential for abuse compared to Schedule III substances, as well as a lower risk of dependence.
  • Schedule V  These drugs have the lowest potential for abuse among the scheduled drugs and are commonly used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

Broadly speaking, Ohio law says that possessing drugs in Schedule I or Schedule II (aside from marijuana) is a felony. While the type of felony varies depending on the amount and type of drug, this type of drug possession charge is a fifth-degree felony at minimum. In Ohio, fifth-degree felonies carry six to 12 months in prison.

Possessing drugs in Schedules III through V is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio for a first offense. First-degree misdemeanors in Ohio carry a maximum penalty of up to 180 days in jail. You can go to jail for a first-time possession offense.

Drug Trafficking and Related Charges in Ohio

While drug possession refers to having relatively small amounts of illegal substances, possessing larger amounts of drugs or engaging in the cultivation or manufacture of drugs could lead to more severe charges. Drug trafficking, manufacture, or cultivation charges are nearly always felonies, even for a first offense. These charges carry lengthy prison terms if you are found guilty. The primary exception is trafficking small amounts of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor.

Facing a First-Time Drug Charge in Ohio? We Can Help

If you face first-time drug charges in Ohio, including charges related to marijuana possession, contact the Akron drug crimes lawyers at DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder immediately. Our experienced attorneys can help prepare a robust defense so you can avoid the worst potential outcomes in your situation. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.