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Ohio has consistently been listed as one of the states with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States. This has prompted lawmakers to enact strict drug laws to deter would-be users from possessing or distributing controlled substances. Individuals who violate these laws face serious penalties including hefty fines and jail time.

The penalties associated with drug-related offenses in Ohio range in severity depending on the amount and type of drug that’s involved. Possession or distribution of Schedule V drugs is penalized less harshly than Schedule I ones. This is because the former is considered to be far less addictive than the latter. Ohio Revised Code Section 3719.41 clearly describes which controlled substances fall on which Schedules.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2925.11 describes how an individual who possesses Schedule III, IV or V controlled substances may be found guilty of drug possession at trial. That same statute spells out how any individual who has Schedule I or II narcotics on them may be prosecuted for aggravated drug possession charges instead.

Those convicted of simple drug possession often face misdemeanor charges for their first offense. Defendants may also be assessed $1,000 in fines and be required to spend 180 days in jail.

Individuals facing drug possession charges for the second or more times will generally be charged with a fifth-degree felony. If they’re convicted of such as crime, then they may have to pay a fine of $2,500 and spend up to a year in jail.

Anyone convicted of possession of a “bulk amount” of a controlled substance in Elyria and other cities throughout Ohio may be charged with a fourth-degree felony. A conviction for such a crime carries with it a $5,000 fine and a sentence of up to nine months or more in jail.

Those convicted of drug crimes may also be put on probation.

Ohio defendants charged with drug crimes may be eligible to participate in a drug diversion program. If they complete substance abuse treatment classes or counseling and other requirements, then their charges may ultimately be dropped.

A conviction for a drug crime on your record can greatly impact your ability to secure a job, take out student loans, win custody of your kids and deprive you of other freedoms. This is why you owe it to yourself to contact a criminal defense attorney that’s keen on defending you from Ohio drug charges.