What Is Aggravated Trafficking in Drugs?

Under O.R.C. 2925.03, a person commits drug trafficking when they sell or offer to sell a controlled substance. They may also face charges when they transport or prepare for shipment any drug they know will be sold (whether they are the one doing the selling or someone else is).

In some instances, drug trafficking is considered an aggravated offense. When a crime is "aggravated," that means some element makes it worse. Thus, aggravated drug trafficking is more severe than drug trafficking. As such, it comes with harsher penalties.

What Elements Aggravate a Drug Trafficking Crime?

The factor that elevates the severity of trafficking is the type of drug involved in the offense. In Ohio, controlled substances are separated into 5 categories, referred to as schedules. Essentially, the groups are based on the dangerousness of the drug.

Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous. Typically, they have:

  • No accepted medical use, and
  • A high potential for abuse.

Schedule II drugs are also considered dangerous substances but less so than those in Schedule I. Generally, they have:

  • A high potential for abuse;
  • An accepted but severely restricted medical use; and
  • A potential to lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.

Schedule III drugs are those that have:

  • A lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and II substances,
  • An accepted medical use, and
  • A risk of causing moderate to low physical dependence and high psychological dependence.

Schedule IV drugs include those that have:

  • A lower potential for abuse than substances in the previous three schedules,
  • An accepted medical use, and
  • A lower risk of causing physical or psychological dependence than substances in Schedules I, II, or III.

Schedule IV drugs are considered the least dangerous, and they have:

  • A lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances,
  • An accepted medical use, and
  • A lower likelihood than Schedule IV drugs of causing physical or psychological dependence.

As mentioned before, aggravating factors are those that increase the severity of an offense. Thus, when it comes to drug trafficking, as you might imagine, substances that are considered more dangerous would lead to more serious criminal charges. More specifically, aggravated drug trafficking is charged when a person sells or prepares for sale a Schedule I or II controlled substance.

However, the sale or preparation for sale of the following drugs will not lead to an aggravated charge:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl-related compounds
  • Controlled substance analogs

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Drug Trafficking?

In Ohio, aggravated drug trafficking is always a felony. But whether it's charged in fourth, third, second, or first degree depends on the amount of the substance involved and where the offense occurred.

Generally, aggravated drug trafficking is a fourth-degree felony punishable by:

  • Up to 18 months in prison and/or
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

If the substance was at or 5 times above the bulk amount, the offense is a third-degree felony penalized by:

  • Up to 36 months in prison and/or
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

If the quantity of the drug was 5 times but less than 50 times the bulk amount or sold near a school (and the quantity was at or five times above the bulk amount), the offense is a second-degree felony punishable by:

  • Up to 12 years in prison and/or
  • Up to $15,000 in fines

If the quantity of the drug was 50 times but less than 100 times the bulk amount or sold near a school (and the quantity was 5 times but less than 50 times the bulk amount), the offense is a first-degree felony punishable by:

  • Up to 16.5 years in prison and/or
  • Up to $20,000 in fines

If the drug involved was at or above 100 times the bulk amount, the offense is also a first-degree felony, but the defendant will be designated a major drug offender.

Have you been charged with drug trafficking in Cleveland? Contact Patituce & Associates at (440) 709-8088. We do what it takes to help our clients seek to avoid the harsh punishments associated with drug crimes.

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