A misdemeanor drug conviction has severe ramifications and life-long repercussions. Many of these are not readily apparent to someone who has never been charged before.
All too often, defendants in misdemeanor drug cases such as simple marijuana possession or possession of drug paraphernalia will enter a plea of guilty at their first court appearance just to get the matter over with or avoid further embarrassment.
Many do so without even consulting a criminal defense lawyer. This can be a disastrous mistake that can affect your future in a multitude of ways, summarized in detail below. Always consult with a seasoned attorney before making such a decision.
Ohio law carries the potential for a driver’s license suspension for up to 5 YEARS for nearly every drug conviction. This applies to all offense levels, even for a Minor Misdemeanor charge of simple marijuana possession of less than 100 grams. It also applies if a vehicle was not involved in the offense. However, some judges are reluctant to impose a driver’s license suspension where no vehicle was involved. The license suspension takes effect immediately upon a plea. Most defendants retain a criminal defense lawyer or law firm proficient in handling drug cases for this reason alone.
Even worse, a drug-related license suspension will show up on your driving record for the rest of your life. It remains on your driving record even if you later succeed in getting the underlying drug charge itself expunged from your criminal record. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles will permanently list a “Drug Suspension” on your traffic record, which will be revealed in any future background check. You should also be mindful of the fact that there are companies nowadays that mine data from online court websites and store it for future reference… and this information is unaffected by expungement or record sealing.
A person charged with a misdemeanor drug offense, as opposed to a felony drug offense, will also typically be facing such penalties as fines, court costs, community work service, and drug counseling or classes. In some courts, judges will also tack on local jail time, probation (community control), and drug treatment programs.
Be aware that some drug offenses filed under local municipal ordinances require mandatory jail sentences. Only a lawyer familiar with drug cases in the particular court where your charges are filed can tell you what the judge may do in your individual situation. Attorney Weisenburger routinely appears in Kent Municipal Court, Stow Municipal Court, and Ravenna Municipal Court on misdemeanor drug-related offenses.
Drug convictions also have hidden collateral consequences. Such repercussions could include: a permanent criminal record (except in Minor Misdemeanor cases); rejection by potential employers; denial of professional licenses; ineligibility for public benefits, student loans, educational grants, and work-study programs; loss of scholarships; legal disability from ownership or possession of firearms; future child custody problems; housing and rental application difficulty; bank loan denials; dramatically increased insurance premiums; and a host of other issues.
Many colleges and universities routinely notify the parents of any student charged with a drug offense (or an alcohol-related offense).
Some courts (Kent Municipal Court and Ravenna Municipal Court) have drug diversion programs, and some courts (Stow Municipal Court) do not. For details, consult a criminal lawyer familiar with the court where you are charged. Be aware that drug diversion programs come with certain risks that you absolutely must understand and be willing to accept. Many will require future drug testing.
Some drug diversion programs require the consent of both the prosecuting attorney and the arresting officer. This is problematic when you are up against an ambitious prosecutor who sees you with a target on your back simply because drugs are involved. Again, consult a criminal defense lawyer to protect yourself.
Many misdemeanor drug charges result from routine traffic stops by police officers. All too frequently, officers will charge everyone in the vehicle and let the criminal courts sort the cases out. Other times, the person nearest the drugs or paraphernalia…or the last one to deny possession, is the only one charged.
Many drivers are intimidated by overzealous police officers. They unwittingly allow vehicle searches that turn up all kinds of contraband, including pipes, rolling papers, scales, roach clips, baggies, and loose pills. Often this is accomplished by the threat of a canine search. Consenting to a search of your vehicle is ALWAYS a mistake, regardless of what the officer tells you. To learn how to handle yourself during traffic stops, check out the brief YouTube video provided by our friends at www.flexyourrights.org.
Another common encounter resulting in drug charges occurs when police respond to noise complaints or other residential disturbances. Officers are usually invited inadvertently into the premises and then rely upon the legal doctrines of “plain view” and “plain smell” to justify warrantless searches. To fully understand your rights under such circumstances, also check out this brief YouTube video, courtesy of www.flexyourights.org
Drug cases nearly always involve complex constitutional search and seizure issues, which require specialized knowledge far beyond the expertise of a typical lawyer or law firm. Court rules require your attorney to raise such issues early on in your case before critical deadlines expire. Evidence also needs to be preserved for later presentation by your defense lawyer. You can see how important it is to secure the services of an accomplished criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after drug charges are filed.
Drug cases are challenging to defend. Attorney Weisenburger is vastly familiar with the drug laws in Ohio and can thoroughly review and analyze the case against you. He can determine if police actions, searches, and seizures were illegal. He will do whatever it takes to protect your constitutional rights.
Mr. Weisenburger will not hesitate to challenge the evidence. He will fight aggressively to have any drug charges dismissed or reduced. He will explore any conceivable option to meet your goals in the case and avoid the harsh consequences associated with a drug conviction.
Attorney Weisenburger has over 30 years of courtroom experience in the field of criminal law, handling drug cases in both Portage County & Summit County, including the following charges:
Attorney Weisenburger represents clients charged with criminal offenses across Northeast Ohio, including, but not limited to, Portage County and Summit County. Our firm has law offices in Ravenna and Stow. He routinely handles criminal charges in the following courts:
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The attorneys in our law firm primarily service Portage County courts (Ravenna and Kent), and Summit County courts (Akron, Stow, Barberton). Cases in all other courts in North East Ohio, such as Cuyahoga County courts, are handled under specific terms and conditions.