The state of Georgia has some of the most severe penalties for drug crimes in the USA. Under the wrong conditions, even possession of marijuana in small quantities can result in incarceration. The experienced Drug Crime Lawyers at The SHElaw firm® can help you understand your charges, possible penalties, and how we can help you reduce those penalties. Anyone in Decatur or greater Decatur County facing any level of drug charges, from simple possession to drug trafficking, can benefit from our expertise and experience.
What Are the Types of Drug Offenses?
There are two types of possession charges:
- Actual – The drugs were actually found on your person or in a vehicle where you are the only passenger.
- Constructive – The drugs found were in a vehicle or a room with more than one occupant, and none claim the drugs. The charge will apply to everyone in the motor vehicle or house.
Possession with Intent To Distribute
If the drug amounts involved were of a large enough volume, pre-packaged, or packaging materials are on site, the charge can include you had the intention to distribute the illegal drugs to others. Just the presence of a scale, plus the drugs, can turn your simple possession into an intent-to-sell charge. The maximum volume for misdemeanor possession of marijuana is one ounce.
Manufacturing or Cultivating
Being arrested while producing, compounding, processing, or preparing a controlled substance will warrant this charge. This can be done by any method or by extracting a product from a natural raw material. Examples include meth labs, ecstasy labs, and marijuana grow houses.
Selling any quantity of controlled substances is illegal in Georgia. The type and amount of drugs and the age of the buyers and sellers at the time of the transaction determine the charges. Selling any amount to minors is punished more severely than selling to adults.
Drug trafficking is a serious crime that involves transporting illegal drugs. Georgia State Law § 16-13-1 includes any person who knowingly sells, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state drugs intended for trafficking. Anyone who has possession of any amount of illegal drugs of any amount, if they know they are for trafficking, can get this charge. The law is specific about the types and amounts of drugs that are punishable in Decatur. Mandatory incarceration is a part of almost all cases of trafficking.
This is the charge when an accused possesses an unreasonable amount of prescription drugs. If a search reveals prescription bottles with the names of other individuals on them, this charge can be in addition to others. It can also apply if you have an excessive quantity of medication prescribed to you. This amount indicates that you are using more than one physician or pharmacy, or you have purchased the prescriptions illegally. Prescription fraud is also the charge for stealing a prescription pad and writing prescriptions for yourself and others while forging a physician’s signature. This charge also applies to physicians writing unnecessary prescriptions.
What Are the Penalties for These Drug Charges?
The financial penalties and possible years in prison can be stiff for a controlled substance charge. This applies to any drug that is illegal to have in your possession, or only legal with an appropriate order from a physician. The only misdemeanor charge is possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. This charge has no minimum jail time, and fines should not exceed $1000. A felony charge applies to more than that quantity or any other drug possession. The financial penalty, or mandatory jail time, is determined by the GA Code of drug schedules.
- Schedule I – The drug has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in the state, may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, and lacks safety protocols. (marijuana, heroin, LSD, mushrooms, MDMA)
- Schedule II – The drug has a high potential for abuse, has medicinal value, is only legal if prescribed by a physician, and has the probability for severe psychological or physical dependence. (cocaine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, opiate, codeine)
- Schedule III – The drug has a low potential for abuse, is used legally in medical treatments, and has a probability for low or moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence. (benzphetamine, phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids)
- Schedule IV – The drug has a low potential for abuse, is used in medical treatments, and may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. (Xanax, Valium, sleeping aids)
- Schedule V – The drug has a low potential for abuse, is available over the counter, and may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. (cough medicines with codeine, Lyrica, Parepectalin
Schedule I or II drug possession is punishable by 1 to 15 years of incarceration, based on the type and quantity of the drug. Intent to distribute or to manufacture raises the penalty to 2 to 30 years. Schedule III, IV, or V drug possession is punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison. Intent to distribute or to manufacture raises that to 1 to 10 years. The penalties range from not less than 5 years up to 30 years. The fines can go up to $1 million.
Ways to Avoid These Charges and Win Over the System
Most drug charges happen when the individual encounters the police, so try to avoid that. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Decatur offer some tips for when an encounter is unavoidable.
Tip #1 – Do not ingest, inhale, inject, snort, sell, or manufacture drugs.
Tip # 2 – Do not drive impaired.
If an officer pulls you over for speeding or erratic driving, your behavior will determine his next lawful move. Do not forget dash or body cameras record every movement. Our case may depend on their footage. If you exhibit any unusual behavior, they will suspect you are driving under the influence. The officer will ask you to blow into the portable breathalyzer. They will put you through the usual field sobriety tests. If they do not smell alcohol, but there is other evidence of impairment, glossy or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or shaking, they will suspect drugs. An arrest is imminent if the symptoms are severe enough for the cameras to pick up. This, in turn, gives them the right to a legal search and seizure. Stay quiet, do not talk except to answer specific questions with a simple Yes or No. Remain calm, stand still, and do not fidget to avoid an arrest. See our previous blog on DUIs for more details.
Tip # 3 – Do not have evidence in plain sight when driving impaired.
If the officers can look into your car and see drugs, weapons, or even large amounts of cash, they can report that it was in plain sight. This allows them to search your vehicle legally. If no evidence is in plain view to warrant a search of your motor vehicle or there is no justification for arrest, the officers must let you go. They may not detain you to wait for a drug-sniffing dog just because they are suspicious.
Tip # 4 – Do not despair; Call Shequel Ross and SHElaw firm® Today!
Contact the SHElaw firm® online or call 470-378-1162 to find out ways that we can help you. We will work through every aspect of your case and design the best plan of attack. Your experience is personal and yours alone; we will construct our personalized approach to the resolution. From an unjustified stop, unwarranted search and seizure, or an illegal arrest up to ways to lessen your minimum sentence, we will find ways to help your case and ease your stress.