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Ohio Law Harshens Heroin Drug Law Definitions & Penalties


Ohio House Bill 171, which was passed in late May 2016 and became officially effective September 14th, 2016, has considerably changed several key legal statutes defining heroin drug trafficking and possession crimes. Previously, heroin charges involving 50 grams to 250 grams was considered a first degree felony; now, heroin charges involving 50 grams to 100 grams constitutes a first degree felony. If a drug crime involves more than 100 grams of heroin, it is a first degree felony that automatically labels the convicted as a “major drug offender.”

Under the same legal statute, a major drug offender in Ohio is defined as anyone convicted for or that pleads guilty to serious drug offenses. A major drug offender will be sentenced automatically to a mandatory prison term that can vary based on the discretion of the judge or the circumstances of the arrest. In many previous cases for major drug offender convictions, the mandatory sentence was 3 years but could go as high as 11 years.

Whereas Ohio seems to have taken progressive steps in criminal justice by reforming its laws on drug crimes and driver’s license suspension, HB171 represents a step in the opposite direction. It is now even easier for the state to label someone as a major drug offender, a title that can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Rather than working towards drug reform and rehabilitative programs, criminal offenders are more likely to lose years of their life in a prison for a drug crime that may have been nonviolent.

The bill can be seen in both summary and completion on The Ohio Legislature website. If you need a Columbus drug crime attorney to represent you after being arrested for possessing or distributing heroin in Ohio, you can rely on The Meranda Law Firm LTD. With two Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ leading our law firm, you know you can have confidence in our ability to protect your good name and future. Call 614.707.4239 to schedule your free case review today.