STATE OF OHIO v. R.H.: Conviction Avoided in Columbus Marijuana Case

Our Columbus law firm represented a 31-year old Upper Arlington man who was charged by Columbus police with possession of marijuana.

Less than 30 days after arrest, we were able to avoid a conviction of any type by resolving the case with a bond forfeiture.

Our defense strategy was to prevent or make it extremely difficult for the State to prove the substance our client possessed was marijuana. How did we do that? To understand this defense, there are several things you need to know.

First, in minor misdemeanor marijuana cases, unless the client gives up his or her right to a speedy trial, the case must be brought to trial within 30 days after the person’s arrest or the service of summons. See Section 2945.71 of the Ohio Revised Code. For higher level marijuana charges the speedy trial time is longer, but time constraints imposed on the prosecution still exist.

Second, in all drug cases the State has the burden to prove that the substance found was a controlled substance. In this case, the prosecution had the burden to prove the substance was marijuana. The only way a prosecutor can prove that is through laboratory testing.

In Ohio, a lab report alone, if signed by the person performing the analysis, “is prima-facie evidence of the content, identity, and weight or the existence and number of unit doses of the substance….” See Section 2925.51(A) of the Ohio Revised Code. But an exception is if the accused or his or her attorney files a timely demand for “the testimony of the person signing the report….” See Section 2925.51(C) of the Ohio Revised Code. In the attorney timely files a demand for lab testimony, then the lab report alone is not only insufficient, but is inadmissible unless the lab technician who actually did the testing appears in court and in ready to testify.

In R.H.’s case, we timely filed a request for laboratory testing, but the technician was unable to 1) complete the testing, and 2) appear in court to give testimony within the speedy-trial window available to try the marijuana case.

We find that only a very few attorneys timely file requests for lab testimony. As a result, their clients are at a major disadvantage when it comes to getting the best possible result in their drug case.

If you are charged in Columbus or central Ohio with any drug case (Marijuana, Cocaine, pills, or any other controlled substance), call one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at 614-454-5010 for a free consultation.

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