In Ohio, if you have an illegal drug or a medication without a prescription, you could be charged with either possession or aggravated possession of controlled substances. Although they contain similar elements – both involve knowingly obtaining, using, or possessing drugs – they differ in the type of substance involved.
Controlled Substances Schedules
Before delving into the specifics of what separates the two crimes, we’ll first discuss the schedule of controlled substances. Whether they are illegal drugs or prescription medications, controlled substances have various effects.
The state and the federal governments have schedules of controlled substances that split different drugs into separate categories according to how dangerous they are.
The classifications of controlled substances are as follows:
- Schedule I drugs: These are considered the most dangerous. They have no accepted medical use and are highly likely to be abused.
- Schedule II drugs: While also considered dangerous, some of these substances have accepted medical uses. They also have a high potential for abuse. Additionally, they can cause severe physical and psychological dependency.
- Schedule III drugs: These substances are less likely to cause abuse than Schedule II drugs. Also, their potential for causing psychological or physical dependency is low.
- Schedule IV drugs: The potential for abuse and psychological dependency of these substances is low.
- Schedule V drugs: These substances have a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedule IV. Generally, they are medicines that contain trace amounts of narcotics
Possession vs. Aggravated Possession
In Ohio, having or using a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance will result in a drug possession charge. But if you have a Schedule I or II drug, you’ll be facing an aggravated possession of controlled substances charge.
However, it’s not an aggravated drug possession offense if you had:
- Hashish, or
- Controlled substance analogs
As you might gather, because Schedule I and II drugs are considered more dangerous than III, IV, or V, an aggravated drug possession offense is more serious than regular possession. Thus, the punishments are more severe for the former.
The level of charges for aggravated possession depends on the type and amount of the drug involved:
- First-degree felony: This level is charged when the defendant had 50 or more times greater than the bulk amount but less than 100 times the bulk amount. The offense is also a first-degree felony when the defendant had more than 100 times the bulk amount of the substance. In this instance, the person is also designated as a major drug offender. Upon a conviction for either crime, the court must impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- Second-degree felony: If the defendant had 5 or more times the bulk amount but less than 50 times the bulk amount of the substance, the offense is charged as a second-degree felony. Upon conviction, the court must impose a mandatory term of imprisonment.
- Third-degree felony: In cases where the amount of the substance was at or above the bulk amount but no more than 5 times the bulk amount, the offense is a third-degree felony. A prison sentence is presumed for the crime.
- Fifth-degree felony: This level is charged when the defendant had less than the bulk amount of the substance. Depending on the circumstances, the court can sentence the person to a community control sanction or prison.
The term “bulk amount” refers to the applicable weighted units of the substance. For instance, the bulk amount for Schedule I opiates is 10 grams or more or 25 unit doses. The bulk amount of a Schedule I hallucinogen is 30 grams or more or 10 unit doses.