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Ohio Federal Drug Crimes

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Ohio Federal Drug Crimes

Drug possession, trafficking, and distribution are not only illegal in states such as Ohio, but they are also prohibited at the federal level. Unfortunately, federal drug prosecutors are known for being particularly tough against drug offenders.

Federal drug offenses can carry mandatory minimum sentences if a conviction occurs, so the grievous penalties are reason enough to retain a practiced federal crimes attorney. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, contact Joslyn Law Firm to receive quality legal guidance.

Ohio Federal Drug Crime Attorney, Cincinnati

Federal law explicitly prohibits the possession of schedule I, II, III, IV, or V drugs, as do the state laws in Ohio. If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime, do not put your future at risk. Contact Joslyn Law Firm to receive quality legal representation today. Our criminal defense attorneys can advocate for you every step of the way.

To schedule your first consultation, call (513) 399-6289 today. Joslyn Law Firm represents clients all over the greater Cincinnati area including Newport, Northbrook, Florence, Blue Ash, Montgomery, Independence, and Norwood.


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Information Center


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Schedules And Controlled Substances

Title 21 of the U.S. Code is the main body of federal law that lists controlled substances and related prohibited acts that are criminal offenses. Federal law establishes five schedules of controlled substances, all of which are illegal. A drug or other substance may not be placed in any schedule unless:

  • findings are made for such drug or substance,
  • and the results of these findings meet those required for that schedule.

A drug on Schedule I has the highest potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. A drug on Schedule V has the lowest potential for abuse, and some medical fields use them for medical treatment.

A controlled substance is a drug or other substance included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco.

Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (L.S.D.), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“Ecstasy”).

Examples of Schedule II narcotics include hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®).  Other Schedule II narcotics include morphine, opium, codeine, and hydrocodone.

Examples of Schedule II stimulants include amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®). Other Schedule II substances include amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.


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Federal Drug Crimes

Simple Possession (21 U.S.C. § 844)

It is illegal for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless that person obtained it directly from or under a valid prescription or order from a “practitioner” while acting in professional practice. The crime is a misdemeanor but can elevate to a felony with higher penalties if the defendant has prior drug convictions. The law treats a violation of federal law by any person distributing a small amount of marijuana for no compensation as a possession (21 U.S.C. § 844) rather than distribution ((21 U.S.C. § 841).

Distribution/Manufacturing/Possession With Intent To Distribute (21 USC § 841(a)(1))

Distributing or manufacturing a controlled substance is a federal criminal offense. Also, possessing a controlled substance for distribution is a federal crime with more severe penalties than simple possession (21 U.S.C. § 844).

Conspiracy/Attempt (21 USC § 846)

The penalties under federal law for the conspiracy and attempt to commit any federal drug crime are identical to distribution penalties. 

Use Of A Communication Facility To Facilitate Drug Felony (21 U.S.C. § 843(b))

It is a federal crime subject to a four-year maximum sentence each time a person uses a telephone to arrange a drug transaction. 

Continuing Criminal Enterprise – “Drug Kingpin Statute” (21 U.S.C. § 848)

The judge may impose a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence and maximum life sentence on the leader of an organization of five or more individuals who engage in a continuing series of drug violations that allows the leader of the continuing criminal enterprise to earn a substantial income. The judge may also impose a mandatory life sentence and death penalty under certain circumstances.

Maintaining A Drug-Involved Premises – “Crack House Statute” (21 U.S.C. § 856)

There is a twenty-year maximum sentence for opening, leasing, renting, or maintaining any premises for drug manufacturing, use, or distribution. This statute applies to anyone managing or controlling these premises, such as owners and rental-property landlords.

Interstate Travel In Aid Of Racketeering – “Travel Act” (18 U.S.C. § 1952)

There is a five-year maximum sentence for traveling or using the mail, telephone, internet, or other instruments of interstate commerce with intent to facilitate drug trafficking.


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Penalties for Ohio Federal Drug Crimes

Penalties For Possession

Any person who violates the federal possession law may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year and fined a minimum of $1,000, or both.

However, if a person commits an offense after one prior conviction for possession under federal law or a prior conviction for any drug, narcotic, or chemical offense chargeable under the law of any state, the sentence becomes more severe. It includes a term of imprisonment for not less than fifteen days but not more than two years and a minimum fine of $2,500.

Suppose a person commits a federal possession offense after two or more prior federal possession convictions or two or more prior convictions for any drug or narcotic. In that case, that person is subject to a sentence of imprisonment for not less than ninety days but not more than three years, subject to a minimum fine of $5,000.

Penalties For Distribution

Courts base the penalties for distribution on the type of drug involved, the existence of any prior convictions, and whether death or serious bodily injury resulted from the crime.

No Prior Convictions 

Controlled Substance Maximum Term Maximum Fine Minimum Term

If Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Maximum Term

If Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Schedule I 20 years $1,000,000

$5,000,000

20 years Life
Schedule II 20 years $1,000,000

$5,000,000

Schedule III 10 years $500,000

$2,500,000

Schedule IV 5 years $250,000

$1,000,000

Schedule V 1 year $100,000

$250,000

 

Prior Convictions

Controlled Substance Maximum Term Maximum Fine Minimum Term

If Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Maximum Term

If Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Schedule I 20 years $1,000,000

$5,000,000

20 years Life
Schedule II 20 years $1,000,000

$5,000,000

20 years Life
Schedule III 10 years $500,000

$2,500,000

15 years
Schedule IV 5 years $250,000

$1,000,000

Schedule V 1 year $100,000

$250,000

 

The Distribution/Sale Of Marijuana

Where there are fewer than 50 kilograms of marijuana, defendants face imprisonment of up to five years and a maximum fine of $250,000 if the defendant is an individual. If the defendant is an organization, the maximum fine is $1,000,000.

If the defendant commits this crime after a prior conviction for a felony drug offense, he faces a prison sentence of up to ten years. The defendant faces a fine of up to $500,000 if a person. However, the judge can fine an organization up to $2,000,000.

Circumstances Giving Rise To Enhanced Penalties

Federal prosecutors may also increase penalties if a defendant has a prior felony drug conviction or is a career offender, which means having two or more felony drug offenses or crimes of violence on a criminal record.

There is a twenty-year mandatory minimum if death or serious bodily injury results from drug use. Enhanced penalties are also available for distribution to individuals under twenty-one (21 U.S.C. § 859) or distributions near schools, playgrounds, youth centers, arcades, pools, and public housing (21 U.S.C. § 860).

If the quantity of certain controlled substances exceeds a certain threshold, it can increase the mandatory minimum sentence to five to ten years. The mandatory maximum sentence will be forty years to life. These enhanced sentences apply to crack cocaine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, L.S.D., P.C.P., methamphetamine, and mixtures containing methamphetamine.


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Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations for federal drug crimes is five years. Prosecutors may not prosecute, try, or punish an offender unless the prosecution files the case within five years of the offense. (18 U.S.C. § 3282). Murder and other capital-offense crimes are exceptions to this law. Murder committed using a firearm during a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime is a capital crime. (18 U.S.C. § 924). As a result, no statute limits the time to file charges for these capital crimes. Thus, the prosecution may find an indictment for a capital offense at any time without limitation.


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Defenses

There are several defenses available to federal charges for drug offenses. Common defenses include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Chain of custody issues
  • Entrapment
  • Erroneous forensic or lab analysis
  • Evidence tampering or planted evidence
  • Lost or tainted evidence
  • Insufficient evidence

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Additional Resources

U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines – The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency. Its principal purpose is to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal criminal justice system that will promote justice by setting forth detailed guidelines prescribing the appropriate sentences for offenders convicted of federal crimes.

Council on Criminal Justice Recommendations – Some of the Council’s recommendations related to drug crimes include reducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and creating legal waivers with states that have legalized marijuana.


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Cincinnati Federal Drug Crime Lawyer, Ohio

If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio. A skilled drug crime lawyer can represent you during the judicial process and build a strong defense for your case. Allow Joslyn Law Firm to be of help during this difficult time in your life.

Contact Joslyn Law Firm at (513) 399-6289 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal options. Our attorneys serve the Cincinnati community including nearby cities such as White Oak, Reading, North College Hill, and Norwood.


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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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