I was arrested for possession of marijuana or marijuana-related charges in Ohio. What can I do?
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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You have two general options in most criminal cases, including charges for possession of marijuana, in Ohio. The first is to enter a plea bargain and negotiate the smallest possible sentence. The second option is to contest the charges.
Entering a Plea Bargain on Marijuana Possession Charges
Before entering a plea bargain you should be aware of the programs, like those available through the Ohio Drug Rehab Centers, available in your jurisdiction. If you are a first time offender in Ohio, you generally have better options. Many counties in Ohio will allow first time offenders to participate in a conditional release program.
A conditional release program usually involves drug awareness classes and drug rehab for any marijuana addiction issues. Ohio also permits you to keep your driver’s license while you are in a conditional release program. If you successfully complete your program requirements, your marijuana arrest will not appear on your record. If you have an extensive history, especially for other drug related charges, you may need to consider contesting the charges.
Contesting Marijuana Possession Charges
Many people directly challenge whether the state has enough evidence to prove they were possessing marijuana. Other defendants choose an indirect approach by challenging the basis of the search or the stop. A direct challenge to a marijuana arrest in Ohio involves asking a judge or jury to decide whether the state has enough evidence to convict you of possessing marijuana.
If the marijuana was found in the pocket of your clothes, you probably will not have much luck with this option. However, if the marijuana was not found on your person, but rather in a common area that several people had access to, you may be able to successfully challenge the link between yourself and the marijuana. Essentially, this means that you attack the circumstantial nature of the state’s evidence on the marijuana possession charge.
An indirect challenge to a marijuana arrest in Ohio involves asking a judge to throw out evidence because it was seized illegally. For example, if the police conducted a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion, and then searched your car without probable cause, you may be successful in getting a court to rule in your favor. If the evidence against you is suppressed, or thrown out, then the state must dismiss the charges against you. Search and seizure laws are state specific. The rulings of appellate courts in Ohio will affect whether you can win a motion to suppress the evidence.
Before you finalize your decision, you should review the facts of your arrest for marijuana possession with an Ohio drug attorney. A drug attorney is a criminal attorney who can review your options and all of the collateral consequences related to those options. Do not wait until your first court date to start looking for a drug attorney. The sooner you find an attorney, the sooner the attorney can begin damage control by making sure evidence in your favor is preserved or by getting you into programs that will result in a more favorable plea bargain.
Because the collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction in Ohio can affect your driver’s license and criminal history, you should at least consult with a criminal defense attorney in Ohio before finalizing your plea bargain so that you clearly understand all of the options available in your situation.
Follow this link for more information about Ohio Marijuana Laws and Ohio Medical Marijuana Laws.