Possession of Cocaine

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with possession of cocaine 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 cocaine possession case.

What is Cocaine?

While this questions seems simple at first, what is included in the definition of cocaine for legal purposes can be complicated. Pursuant to ORC 3719.41, cocaine is listed as a Schedule II drug. It is listed alongside drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and raw opium. Cocaine for purposes of Ohio’s drug laws includes the leaves of the coca plant and any of its compounds, salts, isomers, extracts or derivatives unless the leaves or extract do not contain cocaine. This includes both powder and crack cocaine.

Possession of any quantity of cocaine is a felony in Ohio under ORC 2925.11. In order to convict a person of possession of cocaine, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:

  • Possessed cocaine;
  • Knew that the substance was cocaine; and
  • Intended to possess it

Possession of Cocaine Under Ohio Law

Pursuant to ORC 2925.11, it is illegal to knowingly obtain, possess or use cocaine. Thus, the required element of knowledge and/or a reasonable belief that the substance is cocaine is required. Knowledge means the specific intent or purpose to possess cocaine.

A person must have actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance in order to be charged with drug possession in Ohio. Actual possession is having physical control of the controlled substance on your person or in your possession. For example, if the controlled substance is in your pocket, you are in actual possession of a controlled substance. 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.

Penalties for Possession of Cocaine in Ohio

The penalties for possession of cocaine in Ohio vary based on the amount of cocaine in the offender’s possession, the number of previous criminal convictions, and whether the offense was committed near a school or juvenile. The charge can vary from a 5th degree felony to a 1st degree felony and can result in penalties from a 6 months in prison and a $2500 fine to 11 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Moreover, any drug conviction in Ohio will result in a driver’s license suspension of 6 months to 5 years. Below is a breakdown of the possible offense levels.

5th Degree Felony

If the amount of cocaine possessed is less than 5 grams, possession of cocaine is a 5th degree felony punishable by 6-12 months in prison and up to a $2500 fine.

4th Degree Felony

For possessing 5-9 grams of cocaine, the offense will be charged as a 4th degree felony. This is punishable by 6-18 months in prison and up to a $5000 fine.

3rd Degree Felony

For 10-19 grams, possession of cocaine is a 3rd degree felony punishable by 9 months to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

2nd Degree Felony

If the amount of cocaine possessed is 20-26 grams, possession of cocaine is a 2nd degree felony punishable by 2-8 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

1st Degree Felony

For possessing 27-99 grams of cocaine, the offense will be charged as a 1st degree felony. This is punishable by 3-11 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. A mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison must be imposed.

1st Degree Felony

For more than 100 grams of cocaine, possession of cocaine is a 1st degree felony punishable by a mandatory maximum sentence of 11 years in prison if the defendant is a major drug offender and up to a $20,000 fine.

The following table summarizes the preceding information:

Cocaine Possession

Amount of DrugChargeSection Determining PrisonPresumption/Mandatory Prison
5-9 grams4th degree felony2929.13(B)No
10-19 grams3rd degree felony-------Presumption
If convicted 2 or more times for previous felony drug abuse offense - mandatory
20-26 grams2nd degree felony-------Mandatory
27-99 grams1st degree felony-------Mandatory
100+ grams1st degree felony-------Mandatory max
Secondary Consequences for a Cocaine Possession Conviction in Ohio

In addition to the penalties outlined above, a felony possession of cocaine conviction can have serious secondary consequences, including preventing you from securing employment or renting an apartment, revocation of a professional license (e.g., lawyer, doctor, nurse), inability to be admitted to a college or university, ineligibility for student loans and can have a bearing on the custody of your children.

Possession With Intent to Sell Cocaine in Ohio

Law enforcement, upon making an arrest for possession of cocaine, will attempt to find evidence of intent to sell cocaine. Possession of cocaine with intent to sell carries significantly harsher penalties than possession.

Possession of cocaine with intent to sell is governed under by Ohio’s Drug Trafficking statute, ORC 2925.03. Possession of cocaine with intent to sell requires that 5 elements be met: possession, knowledge, intent, sale and reasonable cause. The factors are defined as follows:

  1. Possession – exercising dominion and control over the cocaine at issue.
  2. Knowledge – awareness and intent to sell cocaine.
  3. Intent – knowledge and purpose to sell cocaine in the person’s possession.
  4. Sale – preparation, transportation, shipment or delivery of cocaine in the person’s possession.
  5. Reasonable Cause – the alleged offender must believe that the cocaine in his or her possession is intended for sale to another person.

A higher volume of cocaine in a person’s possession can lead to an inference that the cocaine is being held for sale, not personal use.

Ohio Defenses to Possession of Cocaine

Several defenses exist for possession of cocaine. These include unlawful search and seizure, lack of Miranda warnings, entrapment by law enforcement, mistaken identity, and lack of possession.

The primary defense would be unlawful search and seizure. Law enforcement does not always comply with search and seizure laws, creating an opportunity for you to assert that the police violated your constitutional rights. An unlawful search and seizure could result from a lack of probable cause or search warrant, and from a search warrant that was not properly executed.

In the event that an unlawful search and seizure took place, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence. If granted, the evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights will be excluded from the prosecution’s case and the charges may be dismissed.

If you were charged with possession of cocaine and the arresting officer failed to administer Miranda warnings, anything you said to the police officer will not be admissible in court.

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Drug Attorney

If you have been charged with possession of cocaine in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC to discuss your case. An experienced and knowledgeable Columbus and Delaware, Ohio drug attorney can help you fight the charge and achieve the best possible outcome. Call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation to discuss your possession of cocaine case. For more information, consult Johnson Legal, LLC’s Drug Crimes Blog.