It goes without saying that most people understand that selling or possessing illegal drugs is against the law. But most don’t realize that the simple act of “sharing” drugs is also illegal under Ohio’s “Corrupting Another” statute. The Ohio Criminal offense of corrupting another with drugs is set forth in R.C. §2925.02 and addresses several actions that can result in a felony conviction with serious prison time. Introduced in my last blog, “Corrupting Another” is self-explanatory to a degree; but the scope of the law may surprise many. The statute holds one accountable for furnishing another with drugs, with or without their consent and when some harm results to the drug user. Below is what you need to know about actions that are criminal under this statute.
The first category of illegal conduct is giving someone a date rape drug. The statute clearly prohibits a person form administering “date rape drugs” like GHB (gamma-hydroxbutyric acid), and benzodiazepines such as Rohypnol or “roofies” to facilitate the commission of drug facilitated sexual assault. Administering the drug in a deceptive manner is a serious felony offense and the sexual assault is separate offense which would result in an additional sentence. It is easy to see why a person “slipping someone a roofie” would be illegal. This portion of the statute makes sense to protect others against this type of activity.
The second type of conduct that the Corrupting statute prohibits is when a person furnishes another with drugs and that person suffers serious physical harm or becomes drug dependent. This portion of the statute has a surprisingly broad scope covering a wide-range of actions.
For example, the heroin dealer who repeatedly sells to a person who becomes addicted to that drug could be charged. Likewise, the person who provides heroin to a friend who overdoses but does not die could be charged under this section. An individual who provides another, even a friend, with a drug or helps them administer the drug, and said drug user is seriously injured in an auto accident could face charges under the statute.
Prosecutors have also charged pregnant individuals under this statute if their babies are born drug dependent or with a related defect. A significant issue in these prosecutions is whether the term “another” applies to an unborn child.
Finally, corrupting another prohibits an individual from furnishing a drug to a juvenile “who is at least two year the offender’s junior.” This section then would apply to a 17 year old who furnished a drug to his 15 year old girlfriend or when a 19-20 year old give a drug to a 17 year old.
As to all of these sections, the penalties can be enhanced if the act took place in the vicinity of a school. In addition, when the drug furnished is heroin, cocaine, crack, or an addictive prescription pain killer like Oxycodone, the penalties are sever and many contain mandatory sentences.
Due to the increase of heroin usage, prosecutors and law enforcement will continue to broaden this use of statutes like R.C.§2925.02 to combat the use of illegal drugs. At this point it isn’t clear if there how far reaching this statute may end up being. For example, if someone gave a friend drugs -but that friend didn’t become drug dependent until year or two later, is that person still liable under this statute? And would every person who furnished that individual drugs (assuming they get drugs from more than one person) be equally liable? How would the courts determine when the drug dependence occurred? Would it matter if a person only became dependent after the second, third or fourth person gave them drugs?
Because this is an ever evolving area of the law, it is important to stay informed. If you are charged under this statute of “Corrupting Another”, your best defense is to hire an attorney right away who will protect your rights throughout the process.
W. Joseph Edwards has over 30 years of Criminal Defense work. He has represented thousands of clients in all areas of criminal law. Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Want a free case evaluation? Contact him at: 614.309.0243.