Georgia marijuana laws are tough
The severity of drug crime charges depends on the kind and amount of the drug in question. In Georgia, being convicted of possessing drugs like heroin, MDMA, LSD and Ecstasy — all Schedule I drugs — will generally result in heavier penalties than the ones handed down for possession of marijuana, which is not regarded as a “scheduled” substance.
Still, Georgia law is tough on marijuana. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana carries a felony status. For that charge alone, you face a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years.
While the stakes are always high in Georgia drug cases, it is often possible to negotiate with prosecutors to have a drug charge reduced or even dismissed. Police officers conduct unlawful traffic stops and searches more often than most people realize, and uncovering a violation of a defendant’s rights could be grounds to suppress evidence and have the case dismissed.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime, consult with an experienced criminal drug defense lawyer. Early intervention by a defense attorney is important to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
How Georgia classifies controlled substances
Although many people know that it is a crime to be in possession of certain drugs — or “controlled substances” — most don’t understand how what the law says and what sorts of penalties are handed down for a drug possession conviction.
Georgia state law mimics the federal Controlled Substances Act in that it divides substances into five different types or “schedules” based on both their accepted medical uses and likelihood of drug addiction or abuse.
- Schedule I substances: No accepted medical use and have a high likelihood of addiction/abuse; Includes heroin, MDMA and peyote.
- Schedule II substances: Have an accepted medical use but are subject to restrictions, and have a high likelihood of addiction/abuse; Includes Oxycodone, methamphetamine and cocaine.
- Schedule III substances: Have an accepted medical use and a lower likelihood of addiction/abuse than Schedule I or II substances; Includes ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.
- Schedule IV substances: Have an accepted medical use and a lower likelihood of addiction/abuse than III substances; Includes Lorazepam, Clonazepam and Diazepam.
- Schedule V substances: Have an accepted medical use and a lower likelihood of addiction/abuse than Schedule IV substances; Includes cough preparations with certain amounts of codeine, opium or other substances.
If you have been arrested for any sort of drug-related crime — possession, sales, manufacture — contact our office to speak to a drug attorney who can protect your rights and your freedom as soon as possible. Call our Cumming, Georgia office at 770-887-1209 today. Banks, Stubbs, & McFarland represents those facing drug charges in Forsyth County and surrounding counties.
What are the penalties for drug crimes in Georgia?
What are the penalties associated with a drug offense conviction? Drug crime penalties increase depending on the type and amount of drug found, as well as what the defendant did or intended to do with the substance.
Non-trafficking penalties for purchasing, possession or controlling an illegal drug
Georgia Code Section 16-13-30 sets out the consequences for conviction of possession or purchase of various controlled substances. The most serious of these would be Schedule I or II drugs. These will include so-called “hard drugs” like heroin or cocaine, among others. For possession of these drugs, the sentence can be between two and 15 years for a first offense. Additional convictions could carry from five to 30 years in prison. For lesser drugs, such as those of schedules III, IV, or V, a conviction can result in jail time of between one and five years for a first offense, or between one and ten years for additional arrests.
Drug crime penalties are heavier for trafficking charges such as intent to distribute. It should also be noted that all of the above convictions would be considered felonies. Felony drug punishments can include loss of rights, such as to vote or carry a firearm, and the need to present your criminal record to future employers. It is important to remember that a person is still innocent until proven guilty and has rights that need to be protected during all stages of the criminal proceedings
Don’t risk the harsh consequences of a felony drug conviction. Call the law firm of Banks, Stubbs & McFarland at 770-887-1209 for a free consultation!
Drug Trafficking: The difference between possession and distribution
There is, of course, another possible crime with which those who come in contact with law enforcement during a drug arrest can be charged as well: trafficking. Under Georgia law, the potential penalties between simply possessing a certain controlled substance and manufacturing, selling or delivering such contraband can be substantial. To take just one example, as we pointed out previously, the conviction of possession of a schedule I or II drug, such as cocaine, could result in between two and 15 years in prison for a first offense. The potential penalty for a first conviction for distributing or selling the same drug could be between five and 30 years of incarceration. If it is a subsequent offense the sentence can range from ten to 40 years.
So, being caught allegedly selling one of these types of substances can be a bad thing for a defendant. But the statute’s penalties also apply to those with intent to distribute, as well. This means that police or prosecutors might take certain evidence and use it to threaten a defendant with a longer prison term in order to elicit a confession or plea deal. They might say that the amount of drug found implies that one was intending to distribute it, for example, or that cash found nearby evidences the selling of the drug.
If you are facing drug charges in Georgia, you should realize that you may be facing hard time. This is especially true if law enforcement can make a case for trafficking. In these cases, protecting your constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizure, and improper questioning can be paramount. Further, having experience in the ways police and prosecutors use possession and trafficking offenses to make deals can result in a better outcome for a person facing drug charges.
Contact our office at 770-887-1209 to discuss your case with one of our drug crime attorneys. There may be valid defenses against your drug charges that only an expert drug lawyer can identify.
Can you be convicted of selling fake drugs in Georgia?
In Georgia, conviction for drug offenses can result in serious penalties, especially if those convictions include a charge of intent to distribute. The amount of jail time or other consequences defendants face in drug cases often depends upon the type of substance involved. But, what if someone is arrested for a drug offense when the substance involved is not actually the controlled substance it is supposed to be?
Georgia Code Section 16-13-21 contains the definitions that are relevant to drug crimes in the state. For our purposes in this post, we are looking at paragraph (12.1), which tells us what the state views as an ‘imitation controlled substance.’ To paraphrase, these substances are those that are made specifically to resemble a controlled substance, or are substantially similar enough to one, that with representations as to the fact that it is an actual illegal drug, a reasonable person couldn’t tell the difference.
Basically, the idea behind this law is to stop individuals from passing off other substances as an illegal drug, and attempting to avoid prosecution by claiming they hadn’t broken the controlled substance law since no actual illegal substance was involved. Section 16-13-30.2 of the state code stipulates that anyone convicted of knowingly making of knowingly attempting to distribute such fake drugs can be penalized for a misdemeanor of a highly aggravated nature.
Merely possessing a substance that a law enforcement officer thinks may be an illegal drug may not be enough for a conviction. In situations like this, it is important that people accused of drug crimes explore all their legal options.
If you have been accused of selling fake drugs in Georgia, contact our office at 770-887-1209 or through our contact form to discuss your options with an experienced drug crime attorney.
What is constructive possession in Georgia drug cases?
The war on drugs has been waged for over three decades at this point, and it doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight any time soon.
Whether one is charged with simple possession or possession with intent to distribute affects the punishment a defendant may face. Except in cases involving a sting operation where he or she has been arrested in the act of distributing illegal drugs, prosecutors may attempt to show this intent by using an inference based upon the amount of drugs found, or the coupling of drugs with other items, such as cash or weighing tools found when a search was conducted.
Law enforcement may attempt to build a case against a person for drug possession even if the individual did not actually possess the drugs at the time of a search or arrest. This can be done because of a legal concept of constructive possession. Constructive possession differs from actual possession in that the possession of the item is inferred from where it was found. Illegal drugs found in one’s vehicle or house, for example, may lead to a charge of drug possession even if one was in a different city at the time of the discovery. This is because a court may consider that items in a place over which a defendant has control are, in fact possessed by the defendant.
Possible defenses include showing that the defendant is not the only one having control and access to the area in question. Evidence of a roommate or someone else who regularly uses a vehicle might help in creating reasonable doubt for constructive possession. These defenses can get highly technical however, and those facing drug crimes charges need to consult an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP.