In a recent article published here on Johnson Legal, LLC, I discussed the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to require the prosecution to prove the weight of cocaine without any filler. The case, State v. Gonzales, dealt with the issue of a person being charged with a violation of R.C. 2925.11, which provides that no person shall knowingly possess cocaine in an amount that equals or exceeds 100 grams. This is a first degree felony in Ohio.
The court held that the statute was unambiguous and, by its plain terms, prohibits the possession of 100 grams or more of cocaine, not cocaine and filler. However, the Ohio Supreme Court inexplicably reversed its own decision mere months after its original decision in State v. Gonzales (II). The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration after two members of the Ohio Supreme Court retired.
In its decision, the court held that any fillers part of the usable drug must be included when considering the appropriate penalty for possession of cocaine. One reason for the court’s reversal was that “fillers, or adulterants, that are part of powder cocaine are not intended to be removed before consumption. Indeed, the fillers are an inherent part of powder cocaine.”
One member of the Court, Justice Patrick Fischer, who voted to overturn the court’s previous decision, voted against the motion for reconsideration. In his opinion, Justice Fischer stated that “this court issued a number of opinions of decisions at the end of 2016 in which motions for reconsiderations were not ripe for review until the beginning of this year. The timing of these motions places this court in the unusual position of being asked to put itself in the shoes of the previous court to determine whether that court erred . . .”
Justice William O’Neill went further, stating that “each of the opinions in Gonzales I was fully and carefully considered by the seven justices of the court. The only thing that has changed since Gonzales I is the makeup of the court.”
The key issue the justices disagreed on was a clear definition of the “purity” of cocaine. Justice O’Neill provided in his dissent that the definition put forth by the majority could lead to the absurd result that “from this date forward, the statute in question will be read to mean that 2.99 grams of baby powder will now be considered to be 3.00 grams of cocaine if there is even a scintilla of the controlled substance found in the ‘mixture.’”
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your criminal offense case.
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