What to Expect If You're Arrested for Drug Possession

Being arrested in any context is terrifying. You may see flashing lights, feel the snap of handcuffs, and hear three devastating words:  “You’re under arrest.” If you have been arrested for drug possession, you may be wondering what you can expect next.

In the following post, we will address common questions that people have when they have been arrested or charged for possession of drugs. We will also explain the five classifications of controlled substances in Ohio.

No matter what the circumstances of your arrest may have been, consulting with a qualified legal representative will give you the best chance of securing a favorable outcome.

Common Types of Illegal Drugs and Substances

Possession of any amount of a recreational or unregulated substance is illegal in most U.S. cities, states, and territories. Common examples of illegal drugs include:

  • Ecstasy
  • LSD (acid)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Psilocybin mushrooms

One of the most common illegal drugs is cannabis, also called marijuana. While cannabis is still illegal in most states, cannabis laws are changing rapidly and can often be confusing. 

For instance, recent legislation in Ohio has sought to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. In areas where this substance is decriminalized, people who are in possession would still face a fine. But if this legislation were adopted, possession would be a civil offense, rather than a criminal one. We’ll discuss the laws in Ohio surrounding cannabis in further detail below.

Possession of certain illegal substances is also a crime under U.S. federal law. However, the amount of legal trouble that you would face from breaking this law would depend on a number of factors. Relevant factors include the laws that are in place within your specific jurisdiction, the type of substance you possessed, and the amount the police found on your person.

Stay Calm When You Are Being Arrested for Drug Possession

The first thing you should remember while being arrested is to remain calm. This can be very difficult, but panicking will not help. 

In fact, lashing out or responding in an erratic way may result in further (and more severe) criminal charges. For instance, law enforcement officers may accuse you of resisting arrest. The officers may then use a greater degree of physical control and force to subdue you, which can potentially cause serious injuries.

Just because you are being arrested for drug possession does not mean you are legally guilty. The foundation of the United States’ legal system is that you are innocent until proven otherwise. 

Further Steps To Take if You’re Arrested for Drug Possession

Allow the arresting officers to place handcuffs on you. Remain silent and calm as they drive you to the police station.

After you arrive, you will be permitted to make a single phone call before they escort you to a jail cell. If you already have an attorney, you should contact them immediately. 

If you don’t have legal representation, call a family member or loved one. Be sure to tell the person you call to secure a lawyer and find out how long the police have to file a drug charge following your arrest.

In order to avoid remaining in a cell for the entirety of your case, ask that the courts set a bail amount during your arraignment. A judge will make the decision to either grant or deny you bail. If you are denied bail, simply maintain communication with your lawyer and take any actions they advise.

One standard piece of legal advice is to avoid answering any questions that police ask you. Unless your attorney is present, simply decline to answer and exercise your right to remain silent. Refuse in a polite, but determined way. Responding angrily will only make the situation more tense and will not improve your circumstances.

This advice also applies to written communication. Never write anything or sign any documentation the police put in front of you. Anything you say or write could be used against you down the road.

Drug Classifications in Ohio

Not all drugs possession charges are equal under the law. The severity of the legal ramifications for your charge depends on the classification of the substance you possessed. Under Ohio law, there are five “schedules” of drug classification.

Schedule 1

Substances that are classified as Schedule 1 are considered to have a high likelihood of leading to abuse. Additionally, they are not socially accepted for medicinal use. Examples include heroin and LSD. 

Cannabis is also a Schedule 1 substance. As we mentioned above, the laws surrounding cannabis are somewhat confusing. This substance is regulated for medical use under Ohio state law. However, possession without a license is still considered to be a crime.

Schedule 2

These types of substances are considered to have a high risk of abuse, but they do have some medicinal applications. Examples of Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and methamphetamine.

Schedule 3

Schedule 3 drugs have a lower probability of leading to abuse and are more accepted for use in medical contexts. Examples of Schedule 3 drugs include anabolic steroids and Ketamine.

Schedule 4

These drugs have a low potential for abuse and many accepted medical uses. Schedule 4 drugs include Valium, Xanax, and Ambien.

Schedule 5

While still regulated, these substances have very low potential for abuse and are commonly used for medical applications. Examples of Schedule 5 drugs include antidiarrheal medications and certain cough medicines.

The penalties for your drug arrest will vary and are based on the type of substance the police find. No matter what kind of drug possession you face, contacting an attorney as soon as possible can provide you with the best path forward.

If you are accused of drug possession, you have the legal right to fight these charges aggressively. In order for you to be convicted, prosecutors will have to prove their claims beyond a reasonable doubt. This is an incredibly high legal standard.

As we noted above, it is also important to avoid providing the authorities with any information or statements to which they are not legally entitled. You should understand and exercise your rights. 

Secure the services of an attorney with plenty of experience in guiding clients through cases like yours. Contacting a knowledgeable legal professional will give you the greatest chance of securing a favorable outcome in your drug possession case.