While marijuana may have been legalized for recreational use in several states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, and for medicinal purposes in 23 states, possession of marijuana is illegal in Ohio. Possession of marijuana can lead to serious prison terms, significant fines, driver’s license suspensions, difficulty securing employment, inability to obtain student loans, and apartments not permitting you to rent.
How is “Possession” Defined?
Possession is a more difficult term to define than it may appear. A person can be in “actual” possession or “constructive possession.” Actual possession is having physical control of marijuana on your person or in your possession. For example, if marijuana is in your pocket, you are in actual possession of marijuana. Constructive possession exists when an individual knowingly exercises dominion and control over an object, even though that object may not be within the individual’s immediate physical possession. For example, if marijuana is kept in a storage garage, you knew that the substance was marijuana, and you have the key, a strong case may exist that you were in constructive possession of marijuana.
In addition to possessing marijuana on your person, illegally cultivated marijuana in your home or other place in your control will result in being charged with both illegal cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana. In order to illegally cultivate, one must be in either actual or constructive possession of marijuana.
Ohio Penalties for Marijuana Possession
In Ohio, possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a minor misdemeanor. While a fine of up to $150 may be imposed, no jail time will be imposed and no criminal record will exist. Possession of 100-199 grams is a 4th degree misdemeanor, which can result in 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Furthermore, this offense will be on your criminal record.
A conviction for possession of 200-999 grams of marijuana will result in a 5th degree felony, which may result in 6-12 months in prison and a $2500 fine. Possessing 1000-19,999 grams will result in a 3rd degree felony, which may result in a prison term of 9 months – 3 years and a $10,000 fine. A conviction for possessing 20,000-39,999 grams carries a mandatory 5-8 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Finally, possessing 40,000 or more grams of marijuana will result in a mandatory 8 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
In addition to criminal penalties, a marijuana conviction can result in significant secondary consequences, such as difficulty finding employment, being ineligible for student loans and other government assistance, and jeopardizing any pending or future child custody actions. Furthermore, any person who is convicted of a drug possession charge may have their driver’s license suspended for 6 months – 5 years and have any professional licenses suspended or revoked.
Defenses to Possession of Marijuana
Several defenses exist for possession of marijuana. These include unlawful search and seizure of your home, vehicle or person, lack of Miranda warnings, entrapment by law enforcement, mistaken identity, and lack of possession.
The primary defense to possession of marijuana is unlawful search and seizure. The police do not always comply with search and seizure laws. This creates an opportunity for you to argue that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights. A lack of probable cause or a search warrant not being properly executed often creates a situation where the police conduct an unlawful search and seizure.
In the event that an unlawful search and seizure takes place, Attorney David Johnson will file a motion to suppress the evidence. If granted any evidence obtained by law enforcement in violation of your constitutional rights will be excluded from the prosecution’s case and the charges may be dismissed.
Another very effective defense for those charged with possession of marijuana is that the arresting officer did not administer the Miranda warnings properly, or failed to administer them at all. If law enforcement fails to do this, anything you said to the police will not be admissible in court.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Possession of Marijuana Attorney
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Attorney David Johnson at Johnson Legal, LLC to discuss your case. An experienced and knowledgeable drug defense lawyer in Columbus and Delaware, Ohio can help you fight the charge and achieve the best possible outcome. Contact Attorney David Johnson at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation to discuss your possession of marijuana case.