Cleveland Drug Crime Lawyer

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Cleveland Drug Crimes Attorney

If you or a family member has been arrested for drug-related criminal offenses, you need to speak with a Cleveland drug crimes lawyer right away. It is vital to know and understand your rights after any arrest for any crime. Any mistakes in the early stages of building your defense can have disastrous consequences, so it is vital that you reach out to a trustworthy, experienced attorney at your first opportunity after arrest and booking.

Drug crime convictions often involve harsh penalties, with lengthy jail or prison terms, hefty fines, and stringent probation requirements. Drug crimes can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances involved, and whether the drug crime qualifies as a misdemeanor or a felony can have a significant impact of the penalties that could be imposed. Accordingly, it is imperative to consult with a skilled Ohio drug crime attorney like Matthew Bangerter who can advocate on your behalf to seek the dismissal of the charges, a favorable plea bargain, a not guilty verdict, or a favorable sentence.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important to act swiftly to protect your rights and begin launching a defense strategy. Do not hesitate to contact Northeast Ohio drug crime attorney Matthew Bangerter to discuss your drug crime charge.

Drug Crimes Charges

Northeast Ohio drug crime attorney Matthew Bangerter represents clients facing a wide variety of drug charges, including:

  • Drug possession. It is illegal for anyone to possess certain illicit substances. Even a small amount intended for personal use can lead to severe penalties if you are convicted of possession. The severity of a possession charge typically depends on the type of substance and the quantity the defendant had on their person when they were arrested.
  • Drug cultivation and manufacturing. Growing cannabis or manufacturing any synthetic drugs is a serious crime, and it is possible for this type of case to lead to severe charges for every party involved. Penalties for drug cultivation can vary based on the type of drug, the quantity of illegal drugs seized by arresting officers, and the overall extent of the operation.
  • Drug trafficking. The term “trafficking” generally applies to carrying illegal drugs across county lines for the purposes of sale and/or distribution. However, the state applies this term more broadly, encompassing what many other states define as possession with intent to sell. This means an individual could be charged with drug trafficking just for providing drugs to another person.
  • Drug sales and distribution. The unlawful sale of illicit substances can lead to severe penalties. It is possible for these offenses to qualify as misdemeanors or felonies based on the type and quantity of the drug.
  • Pharmaceutical drug sales. It is unlawful to possess or sell pharmaceuticals that are only legal to possess with a valid prescription. Illegally obtained pharmaceuticals can form the basis for a serious drug crime case, even if those drugs are legal to possess with a prescription.
  • Medical professional criminal drug charges. Medical professionals who fill out fraudulent prescriptions or knowingly enable illegal pharmaceutical sales can not only face criminal prosecution but also the loss of their professional licenses and other serious penalties.
  • Federal drug charges. Drug crime cases can escalate to the federal level if any federal law enforcement agency becomes involved, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Prosecution in federal court is very different from prosecution at the state level and the defendant faces much harsher penalties if they are convicted.
  • Misdemeanor drug charges. Many drug offenses in Cleveland are prosecuted at the misdemeanor level. While less severe than felony offenses, misdemeanors can still lead to severe penalties, including fines, jail time, and more. It is vital to have experienced defense counsel on your side if you have been charged with any misdemeanor drug offense in Cleveland.

It is vital for a defendant to remember that in any criminal case, it is possible for them to face multiple charges based on the extent of the police’s investigation and their behavior during arrest and booking. It is possible for you to have been wrongfully charged with a drug crime you did not commit, or you may have a substance abuse disorder. Whatever your situation entails, it is vital to connect with a trustworthy Cleveland drug crimes lawyer with your defense.

Penalties For Drug Crimes In Ohio

Drug offenses carry significant penalties, including long prison terms, hefty fines and other lifelong consequences, and it is important to promptly retain experienced legal representation. In Ohio, even a misdemeanor drug conviction can have significant consequences since drug penalties include a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to three years. Not only does a drug conviction result in jail or prison terms and hefty fines, but it also causes serious damage to your reputation and can prevent you from obtaining federal grants and student loans.

Penalties for most drug-related criminal offenses in the state will vary based on the type of drug, the quantity the defendant had in their possession, the defendant’s prior arrest record, and any other aggravating or mitigating factors present in the case. Aggravating factors work against the defendant and encourage harsher penalties while mitigating factors work in the defendant’s favor and sometimes encourage leniency from sentencing judges.

For example, if you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, and a search of your vehicle reveals not only a stash of illegal drugs but also an unregistered firearm. You could not only be prosecuted for DUI but also for drug possession and a weapons violation. This could escalate the severity of your penalties dramatically, even if you did not hurt anyone.

Cleveland drug offense attorney Matthew Bangerter will work to protect your legal rights, explore all possible defense strategies, and work with the prosecution on a possible plea bargain to minimize the adverse consequences of any penalties you may face. The Fortress Law Group has years of experience defending clients from all types of drug charges, and we have successfully resolved many complex cases on behalf of clients in Cleveland.

Protecting Your Rights

Drug cases rely heavily on evidence to support the allegations and sometimes the evidence is obtained in violation of a person’s constitutional rights. Northeast Ohio criminal defense attorney Matthew Bangerter understands the importance of the protection of constitutional rights and will investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and any evidence collection to ensure that your constitutional rights are upheld.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects you against self-incrimination. You are not required to act as a witness against yourself, so you are not legally obligated to answer any questions from arresting police officers. Do not assume that remaining silent makes you look guilty; simply remember that anything you say can potentially be taken out of context and used against you.

The Sixth Amendment ensures your right to legal counsel when you are accused of a crime. You have the right to an attorney, and you must take full advantage of this right to ensure the greatest chance of reaching a positive outcome for your case. Your Cleveland drug crimes lawyer can examine the circumstances of your arrest and booking to ensure the arrest was lawful and that your rights were respected by arresting officers.

Defending Yourself Against Drug Charges

In every criminal case, the prosecution faces the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard of proof that they will attempt to meet by leveraging various forms of evidence and witness testimony against you. It is the job of your defense attorney to prevent them from meeting this burden of proof. You may have more defenses available to you than you initially realize.

It is possible for a defendant to avoid conviction for a drug-related offense by leveraging exculpatory evidence and highlighting inconsistencies with the prosecution’s case. They may also need to highlight procedural violations from the police, chain of custody violations with the evidence brought forth against them, or they may need to prove that their rights have been violated in some way.

If you did commit the crime and the prosecution has all the evidence they need to secure a conviction, your situation may not be as hopeless as it may appear. Your defense attorney may attempt to plea bargain for you, securing lighter penalties, reduced charges, and/or a suspended sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. For some defendants, plea bargaining is their most viable option for mitigating the penalties they face in a drug crime case.

When you choose the Fortress Law Group to represent you in a drug crime case, you can expect compassionate and respectful interactions with our team, responsive communication, and results-driven legal counsel through every phase of your case. Our goal is to help you avoid conviction if at all possible or mitigate your penalties if sentencing is unavoidable.

What is Drug Trafficking Under Ohio Law?

Ohio drug trafficking laws state that drug trafficking essentially means providing drugs to someone else. Technically, this would involve selling, offering to sell, preparing for shipment, or preparing for distribution. Any form of providing drugs to someone else could be charged as drug trafficking. Here is you will know what is drug trafficking under Ohio law?

Possession, Sale, Distribution and Intent to Distribute Unlawful Drugs

Possession would obviously mean that a person had drugs on their person or under their control. There are cases involving people in a car where someone in the car had possession of drugs. Oftentimes, the drugs would be in the central console, under a seat or between the crack in the seat or something like that so the police would then charge everyone in the car with possession. They would say that everyone in the car had potential control over that drug.

As far as sale and trafficking of the drugs, often times the police and prosecutors can be extremely strict. A person could be charged with trafficking just simply by providing someone else with any drugs.

If someone at a party had marijuana and passed it to their friend, then technically they would be guilty of “trafficking” a drug. This is an extreme example but when we get into court, it is possible for a person to be charged with drug trafficking just for buying drugs for their friends or for providing it to their friends, even if no money exchanged hands.

Penalties in Ohio for Forging a Drug Prescription

Forging a drug prescription would also be considered a felony in Ohio. It would start with a fifth degree felony and could go up based on other factors.

Common Drug Offenses in Ohio

These days the most common drug offenses  in Ohio are a toss-up between heroin and meth, and both are epidemics. A recent seminar mentioned there is one heroin overdose every single day in the Cleveland area. Meth is also a very serious drug being used and it is an epidemic especially in the more rural counties.

Unlawful Controlled Substances in Ohio

An unlawful controlled substance could be a wide variety of drugs including heroin, marijuana and prescription drugs, such as Percocet and Vicodin. Any kind of painkiller or narcotic that would require a prescription could also be considered a controlled substance.

Schedules of Controlled Substances under Ohio Law

There are five different schedules of controlled substances under Ohio law. The first includes a list of the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no medical value like heroin. The other schedules decrease in the level of possible dangerous use and addiction and may have medical uses.

Medical Marijuana Is Not Legal In Ohio

At this point in Ohio, marijuana is illegal for all use, medical or otherwise. A bill on the ballot was recently turned down by the voters. It was just not sitting well with people, so at this point, there is no legal marijuana in Ohio.

Penalties in Ohio for Drug Paraphernalia

A person could be charged for anything that would typically be found around a house if it was being used for illegal drug use. For example, someone might have a hypodermic syringe because they were diabetic, but if there were drugs in it or it was being used for drugs, then the person could be charged with having drug paraphernalia.

This would extend all the way to pipes for marijuana, even the plastic bags that was used for carrying the marijuana or the scale used for weighing the drugs.

Anything that was being used in relation to drugs could be considered drug paraphernalia.

The Punishments for Paraphernalia Charges Would Vary Between 2nd Degree and 4th Degree

Possession of drug paraphernalia would be a misdemeanor, although there are a couple of different versions. Being in possession of actual drug paraphernalia would be a fourth degree misdemeanor, whereas possessing drug abuse instruments would be a second degree misdemeanor.

Marijuana paraphernalia is usually charged as a fourth degree misdemeanor whereas needles or anything used for heroin, for example, would be charged as a second degree misdemeanor.

Drug Offenses Could Fall Under Misdemeanor or Felony Charges Depending On the Quantity and Type of Drug

Whether a drug charge would be a misdemeanor or felony would be determined by two things, the first being what type of drug it was. A small amount of marijuana could be a misdemeanor, and possession of any other drug could be a felony. However, possession of a large amount of marijuana could end up being a felony, along with trafficking of any kind of drug. Again, it depends on the types of drugs and the amount.

When it comes to trafficking charges, the penalties would really depend on the quantity of drugs that were being sold. Any trafficking charge would start with a fifth degree felony, which would be the lowest degree, and it could go all the way up to a first degree felony and could be enhanced by some other factors.

Penalties Would Be Heavier If Minors Were Involved or If It Was Near a School

Penalties are usually enhanced if there is the presence of a juvenile or a school within 1,000 feet of the incident. This means that if there was a child nearby and someone was selling a small amount of marijuana, then it would go from a fifth degree felony to a fourth degree felony.

In this case the person could also face charges for endangering children or contributing to delinquency.

Second or Third Drug Offenses Can Make Penalties More Serious

The charges do get more serious at this point. In regards to possession, the crime itself would not become more severe but the judge would start handing out harsher penalties if the person was back in front of the court for a second, third or a fourth charge.

For other crimes such as assembling or purchasing chemicals or assembling methamphetamine, there would be some mandatory prison time if a person was caught for a second time, because law enforcement is really trying to crack down on those crimes.

For more information on Common Drug Offenses in Ohio, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (440) 306-3205 today.

Common Defense Strategies in Drug Related Cases

There are some common defense strategies in drug related cases. If you want to get help building a drug crime defense strategy, the best thing you can do is learn more about the process, and then get help. In the majority of cases, people may have underlying substance abuse problems. The focus should be on trying to get them help instead of punishment so getting someone admitted to a treatment facility rather than prison. Someone who goes to prison with a drug problem will most likely come out with a drug problem and that does not benefit society or the individual. If someone with a substance abuse problem actually receives treatment, then there is an overall benefit for everyone. That is one less drug addict in the community.

Regarding defenses that can be used in drug related cases; there could be an infinite number of possibilities. They could range anywhere from false positives on lab tests to fighting the evidence itself, such as how it was obtained by police. The possibilities of defending a case could be endless. It all depends on the facts of the case.

Ohio Has Programs Like Drug Court and Deferred Adjudication for First Time Offenders

Diversion programs are available in a lot of criminal cases for first time offenders where the person would be required to do community service and some sort of drug treatment program so they could ultimately have the case dismissed.

There is also something called Intervention in lieu of conviction where the person would plead guilty to a drug charge and if that crime was committed as a result of the drug habit or a mental health problem, the person could be placed in a drug or mental health treatment program.

The case would then be dismissed after completion of the program. There is a brand new combined drug and mental health court, and that is very treatment focused, so these options do exist especially for first time offenders.

Drug Charges Can Be Expunged or Sealed From a Record

Anything can be sealed as long as the person is not convicted; meaning if a case was dismissed or if the person was found not guilty.

If a person is convicted and it was for a misdemeanor or a lower level felony and they had not had other convictions, then they might still be eligible to have a drug conviction sealed in that case. For misdemeanors, they would have to wait a year from their last court involvement and for a felony; they would have to wait three years.

Drug Charges Can Be Reduced or Dropped If It Was Part of a Plea Bargain

A reduction in charges could generally happen as part of a plea bargain especially if it was for a first time offender who might be a good candidate for drug treatment. It would be part of the plea agreement and we would be able to negotiate or reduce the charges.

Getting the charges dropped completely would apply more to cases where we are looking at intervention in lieu of conviction or a diversion program where it was dropped but after the person received some sort of help or assistance.

There Are Certain Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Related Crimes in Ohio

There are generally mandatory minimum punishments for certain level felonies in higher level drug cases such as methamphetamine assembling. There are not, however, mandatory minimum penalties in Ohio for most drug cases which are lower level felonies like possession of heroin, possession of meth or cocaine.

Drug Crime Defenses and Related Cases Can Take a While to Be Resolved Depending On Certain Factors

Drug cases would have the same timeline as they would in a criminal case. Under the constitution, the accused would have the right to a speedy trial, meaning the trial would have to happen within a certain period of time.

The right to a speedy trial could be waived if more time was needed to investigate the case or if there were other advantages that a person could benefit from by waiving that right. It would generally take a few months or more to resolve a drug case, just like any other criminal case.

Can Police Search An Automobile Or A Home Without A Warrant?

Can police search your car without a warrant? What about your home? Police cannot search an automobile or home without a warrant, unless under certain circumstances. The fourth amendment and the Right to Search and Seizure and whether the officer would need a warrant would come into play here.

In Ohio, the police cannot just search a person’s car without a warrant if they have been arrested. However, they would be able to search the vehicle if it had been towed. They could do something called an Inventory Search because they would need the inventory of car before it goes to the tow yard.

Can police search an automobile or a home without a warrant? The Ohio Supreme Court just came out with a case where the police searched a car that was legally parked and found drugs and contraband in the car. The Supreme Court ruled that since the car was legally parked, the police needed to have a warrant to search that car.

On the other hand, if someone was pulled over on the side of the freeway and were arrested, the police would tow the car and if they did that, they would be able to search it lawfully without a warrant.

There are some exceptions for cars and homes but there would have to be certain reasons for the police to be able to do a search without a warrant.


Q: What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Cleveland?

A: The penalties for drug possession in Cleveland can include fines, jail time, loss of your driver’s license, probation, and mandatory substance abuse treatment. The severity of your penalties will depend on the specific details of your case, such as the type of drug you had in your possession, the quantity, and whether the prosecution has evidence to show you intended to sell or distribute the drugs.

Q: What Is the Most Serious Drug Charge?

Q: How Can I Avoid Jail Time for a Drug Charge in Cleveland?

Q: Why Should I Hire a Cleveland Drug Crimes Lawyer?

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Cleveland Drug Crimes Lawyer?

Consult With An Experienced Drug Offense Attorney Immediately

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Ohio, it is important that you consult with an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that your rights can be protected, and a defense strategy can be launched. Ohio criminal defense attorney Matthew Bangerter has considerable experience defending clients facing felony and misdemeanor drug charges. If you are facing drug charges, do not hesitate to contact Cleveland criminal defense attorney Matthew Bangerter to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how he can help you with your drug charges.