Drug Possession Charges in Georgia
If you have been charged with any type of drug offense, you need the advice of an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer. Drug possession, possession of drug related objects and other criminal charges can leave you facing heavy penalties and years in prison. In addition, the collateral consequences of a drug conviction can have a significant impact on your professional and academic life. Fortunately, an experienced defense lawyer can help protect your important constitutional rights throughout the criminal process and ensure your case is resolved as favorably as possible.
Georgia’s Controlled Substance Schedules
The Georgia Code classifies controlled substances on a schedule. The penalties for drug offenses depend upon what schedule the drugs fall under:
- Schedule I: Drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
- Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse and the potential for psychological or physical dependence that have accepted medical uses under severe restriction.
- Schedule III: Drugs with a lower chance of abuse, low or moderate potential for psychological or physical dependence, and an accepted medical use.
- Schedule IV: Drugs with a lower chance of abuse, limited potential for psychological or physical dependence, and an accepted medical use.
- Schedule V: Drugs with the lowest potential for abuse, limited potential for dependence, and accepted medical use.
Penalties for a Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act
A Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act can result in a wide variety of penalties. The consequences that you can face depend on a variety of factors, including the type of substance possessed, the amount, and whether there was evidence that you intended to to distribute it to others. The most effective way to find out the potential penalties you are facing is to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can,
Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony in Georgia?
Other than less than one ounce of marijuana, possession of any amount of a controlled substance is a felony under Georgia law. A felony conviction results in the automatic loss of your civil liberties. These include the right to possess a firearm, the right to vote, and the right to serve on a jury. These rights can be restored in certain cases after the required length of time has passed, but this is not guaranteed. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer any time you face drug possession charges.
Is Possession of Marijuana a Felony in Georgia?
Marijuana possession charges depend on the amount of marijuana involved. If it is less than one ounce of marijuana, the offense is a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to 12 monts and a $1,000 base fine. If there is an ounce or more marijuana, the defendant can be charged with a felony. The penalties for felony possession of marijuana range from one to ten years in prison.
Defenses Against Drug Possession Charges
The fact that you have been charged with drug possession does not mean that you will – or should be – convicted of the crime. There are many important legal defenses to possession charges.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officers to have a warrant before they can search your home or seize evidence against you. There are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement, but these are very strictly interpreted under applicable case law. You have the right to challenge any search of your home or vehicle that was performed without a warrant. You also have the right to challenge the seizure of evidence (although a warrant is not required if the drugs were in an officer’s plain view).
Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer convinces a defendant to commit a crime. This is far more difficult to prove than many people realize: the defense must show that the defendant would not have committed the crime without the officer’s actions, and the prosecutor can overcome an entrapment defense by showing that the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime. (For example, if the defendant had several prior drug charges on his or her criminal record.) Despite these difficulties, entrapment is a legal defense that you should discuss with your lawyer.
The Drugs Were Planted
If drugs were planted in your house or vehicle or placed on your person, you were not knowingly in possession of the drugs. This can be used to get an acquittal at trial, or even have the charges dismissed altogether. It can, however, be hard to prove that the drugs were planted without your knowledge. Prosecutors are not likely to believe a defendant’s claims of innocence. Because of this, a defendant usually has to go to trial and convince a jury that the drugs were planted. Jurors may or may not be inclined to believe this. Your defense lawyer can find circumstantial evidence or other witnesses to help corroborate the fact that the drugs were planted.
The Drugs Belonged to Someone Else
In some cases, drugs will be found in the presence of several people. A prosecutor can charge any or all of those present with drug possession. In this case, a defendant has the chance to prove that the drugs belonged to someone else. Again, a prosecutor is not likely to believe a defendant, and you might have to take your case to trial to let a jury decide whose drugs were found.
The Substance You Possessed Was Legal
In some cases, you may be able to claim that the substance you possessed was, in fact, legal. For example, if law enforcement mistakes hemp for marijuana, you may be able to raise this defense. Similarly, if you possessed a controlled substance for which you had a prescription, your possession of the substance would be legal and the charges against you would likely be dropped.
Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney for All Drug Possession Charges
Defendants have the constitutional right to consult with an attorney at all stages of the investigation and court case against them. By exercising this right, you can prevent a wrongful conviction or get a fair plea deal that minimizes the consequences you are facing. Attorney Adam D. Brown is an experienced drug possession attorney in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, who is committed to protecting the rights of people accused of crimes. Call (404) 947-9721 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.