What happens in Ohio when a person is charged with possessing different drugs at the same time? This is becoming a common question my firm receives as more and more people are being charged with possessing multiple drugs (ex. marijuana and illegally obtained prescription medications / cocaine and heroin). Is the person sentenced for each drug individually or sentenced for being in possession of illegal drugs?
Surprisingly, as of 2017 the Ohio Supreme Court has yet to address this issue. Appellate courts in Ohio have held that each drug is sentenced separately and the offenses do not merge. R.C. 2941.25 provides that where the same conduct by the defendant can be construed to constitute two or more allied offenses of similar import, the indictment may list all of the offenses, but the defendant can only be convicted of one. This means that if a person is charged with multiple offenses that arise from the same incident and are committed with the same animus, the offenses must merge for sentencing purposes.
An example of this would be a person breaks into a store using a rock to smash the store’s front door. The person proceeds to steal clothing from the store and then flees the scene. The person is ultimately indicted for breaking and entering, theft, possessing criminal tools and criminal damaging. All of these offenses occurred as part of one criminal act, but the defendant can only be convicted on one of those offenses.
However, if a person is arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin, each of these drugs would be penalized independently according to most appellate courts in Ohio. The drug possession offenses would not merge for sentencing purposes.
However, this is an issue that is ripe for appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. R.C. 2941.25 requires the merger of felonies if the offenses are committed with the same animus in a single act. Here, the conduct of the person is possessing two different illegal drugs at the same time. Unfortunately, this remains an unresolved issue in Ohio as of 2017.
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.
Johnson Legal, LLC serves the following cities in the central Ohio area for criminal defense:
Westerville, Worthington, Columbus, Polaris, Reynoldsburg, Grandview Heights, Shawnee Hills, Bexley, Pickerington, Gahanna, Sunbury, Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Dublin, Hilliard, Lewis Center, Galena, Clintonville, Huber Ridge, Blacklick, Grove City, Delaware, Marysville, Groveport, Newark, Canal Winchester, Obetz, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Pataskala, Granville, Whitehall, Franklin County, Morrow County, Licking County, Union County and Delaware County