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What Is a Major Drug Offender in Ohio?

In Ohio, people accused of certain drug crimes can be labeled as major drug offenders. The designation is applied when the offense involves large amounts of specific controlled substances or controlled substance analogs. The various drug crimes statutes allow for courts to impose harsher penalties on individuals considered major drug offenders.

What Amounts Lead to a Major Drug Offender Designation?

Ohio Revised Code § 2929.01 defines a major drug offender as a person convicted of an offense involving the sale, offer for sale, or possession of a controlled substance.

For the major drug offender designation to be applied, they must have had, sold, or distributed at least the following amounts of drugs:

  • 100 grams of cocaine
  • 1,000 grams of hashish
  • 1,000 unit doses or 100 grams of heroin
  • 5,000 unit doses of LSD or 500 grams of LSD in liquid form
  • 50 grams of a controlled substance analog
  • 1,000 unit doses or 100 grams of a fentanyl-related substance
  • 100 times the bulk amount of any other schedule I or II controlled substance (except marijuana)

What Crimes Carry the Major Drug Offender Label?

A person may be designated a major drug offender if they commit certain drug offenses, and the crime involved an amount of a controlled substance equal to or more than the quantities listed in the previous section.

The major drug offender label can be specified for the following crimes:

  • Trafficking and aggravated trafficking in drugs (ORC § 2925.03): This offense involves knowingly selling, offering to sell, shipping, delivering, transporting, or distributing large amounts of drugs.
  • Illegal manufacture or cultivation of drugs (ORC § 2925.04): A person can be charged with this offense if they are in any way involved in the production of a controlled substance or the cultivation of marijuana.
  • Funding or aggravated funding of drug or marijuana trafficking (ORC § 2925.05): This law prohibits people from providing money or anything of value knowing that it will be used to sell a controlled substance.
  • Possession of controlled substances (ORC § 2925.11): Under this law, obtaining, possessing, or using controlled substances is illegal.

What Are the Consequences of Being Labeled a Major Drug Offender?

If someone is labeled a major drug offender in Ohio, they are charged with a first-degree felony and subject to a mandatory minimum prison term. The mandatory minimum is the maximum term allowed to be imposed for a first-degree felony offense.

Other controlled substances offenses can also be prosecuted as first-degree felonies. However, if the amount of drug involved does not meet the threshold for a major drug offender designation, the mandatory minimum term that can be imposed is in the range of maximum mandatories for first-degree felonies.

Let's take a look at a recent case to illustrate how sentences can be imposed when a person is designated as a major drug offender. In April of 2021, a Lima man was found guilty of trafficking in cocaine. Because he allegedly had over 100 grams of the substance, he was labeled a major drug offender. Accordingly, the judge sentenced him to a mandatory prison term of 11 years for cocaine trafficking. He was also convicted of several other crimes, including having a weapon under disability. With the additional penalties imposed for those offenses, he was subject to a total of 15 years of imprisonment.

Note that being designated a major drug offender leads to consequences other than increased prison time. For instance, two men were each subject to a $1 million bail in Delaware County Common Pleas Court because they received the major drug offender label. They were alleged to have been in possession of and trafficking in massive amounts of drugs.

We Can Help You

Being accused of a drug crime in Dayton, OH, carries severe penalties, especially if you are alleged to have large quantities of a controlled substance. However, passively accepting your sentence is not your only option. You can and should fight the charge. Even if the prosecutor has evidence against you, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise defenses, such as an unlawful search and seizure, to seek a favorable outcome like dropped or reduced charges.

At L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC, we are here to stand by your side throughout your case and pursue every legal option to protect your rights and best interests.

To discuss your situation with us, please call (937) 685-7006 or submit an online contact form today. We offer a free initial case evaluation.