In Atlanta, Georgia, it is a crime to possess, manufacture, or distribute any amount of illegal narcotics or prescription drugs for which one does not have a prescription in one’s possession. Drug crimes can be prosecuted either as felonies or misdemeanors. Both the federal and state governments have dedicated substantial time and resources to finding and prosecuting individuals who violate drug laws. Even with little more than a tip, law enforcement officials often launch full-scale investigations into suspected individuals, which can lead to arrests and interrogations. Do not expect leniency if they are prosecuting you; the government will pursue its case aggressively and push for serious penalties that can affect all aspects of your life.
If you are accused of a drug crime in Georgia, Atlanta drug crime attorney David Schnipper can help sort through the various factors that can affect the charges against you and formulate a strong defense strategy.
Types of Drug Crimes
Under Georgia law, drug crimes include all of the following
If you have been charged with any of these offenses, experienced Atlanta drug crimes attorney David Schnipper can inform you of your options and develop a strong strategy for your defense.
Possession and Possession With Intent to Sell
Drug possession is the most basic drug crime in Georgia. Possession of any amount of any illegal drug is a crime. However, the penalties vary widely depending on what kind of drug is possessed, the quantity of drugs possessed, if it is suspected that there was an intent to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs, if the drugs were found near a school zone, and if there are previous drug convictions.
The crime of drug possession with the intent to sell is subject to much harsher penalties. The determination of whether there is intent to sell can be made based on many factors, including the amount of drugs found, the way the drugs are packaged (e.g., if the drugs are in individual baggies), the presence of scales or other measuring devices, the presence of large amounts of cash, the presence of a firearm, and others. A finding of intent to sell can significantly aggravate what might have otherwise been a relatively minor drug offense.
Drug trafficking is a more severe criminal offense than simply possession with the intent to sell. Drug trafficking involves transporting, selling, smuggling, or importing illegal drugs across either state or international borders. Drug trafficking is a federal offense, and penalties are extremely harsh, also depending on the drug in question and the amount trafficked.
The federal government spends a huge amount of time and energy investigating drug trafficking cases. The FBI and the DEA have entire teams of officials who are specifically trained in investigating drug trafficking, and they will not rest until they have exhausted every avenue and probed every lead. If the government obtains sufficient evidence to arrest you, you can expect rigorous and extensive interrogations until they have the information they need to convict you.
Prescription fraud is the illegal attempt to obtain otherwise legal drugs, such as painkillers or anti-anxiety medications. The following are examples of prescription fraud:
- Stealing a prescription belonging to another person
- Faking one’s identity to obtain a prescription
- Altering a real prescription
- Creating a forged or fake prescription
- Forging a doctor’s signature
- Trying to obtain the same prescription from multiple doctors
This crime is growing in Georgia, and can be committed either for profit, such as selling Oxycontin or Vicodin, or for recreational use too, which is also very popular with Valium, Morphine, and Xanax. Prescription fraud is a felony on its own and can also lead to drug possession charges.
Georgia does not recognize a medical use for marijuana (medical marijuana). Although it is not technically a controlled substance, marijuana is subject to the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and treated like other illicit drugs. Thus, possession, cultivation, and sale are all punishable offenses, even if the offender has a prescription that was valid where prescribed (such as in a state where medical marijuana is legal).
Driving under the influence of drugs and being under the influence of drugs are both crimes in Georgia. State law prohibits any person from driving while under the influence of marijuana or a controlled substance to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. Georgia law also makes it a crime to drive while there is any amount of a controlled substance present in the person’s blood or urine, or both.
Georgia Law Can Impose Harsh Sentences for Drug Offenses
One of the most important reasons to hire experienced Atlanta drug crimes lawyer David Schnipper when accused of many drug-related offenses is that Georgia has a program for less serious drug offenders known as alternative sentencing.
You may be eligible for the Drug First Offender Act or what is commonly referred to as “conditional discharge.” It’s a contractual obligation between the defendant and the court where the defendant promises that they will adhere to the terms of probation, and the court promises the defendant an adjudication of guilt will not be entered into. If the defendant abides by their promise that they make with the court in terms of the parameters of probation their case will be dismissed or “conditionally discharged.”
If you are facing jail time for a less serious drug crime, and depending on your past criminal history, you may be eligible to attend a drug treatment program instead of serving time. Some judges will even waive conviction if the drug offender completes a rehab program successfully. Typically, alternative sentencing is for non-violent, first- or second-time offenders accused of offenses such as possession or prescription fraud. Atlanta drug crime Attorney David Schnipper has a comprehensive understanding of the eligibility requirements for alternative sentencing and can put forth a persuasive argument on your behalf to keep you out of jail.
For some non-violent crimes, first-time offenders may be eligible for the pretrial diversion program and/or pretrial intervention program, which is an alternative to prosecution by the state. Placement in the pretrial diversion program requires a recommendation by the prosecuting attorney, but it allows the offender to remain in the community under supervision rather than in confinement. Experienced drug crime attorney David Schnipper can advise whether the pretrial diversion program may be available to you based on your individual circumstances, and whether pursuing that option is in your best interests. Perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of the program is that once an offender completes the requirements, the offense will not be on the offender’s record.
Whether you are facing a less serious charge or a severe penalty for a drug crime in Georgia, criminal defense attorney David Schnipper can help. Criminal charges alone can have far-reaching repercussions in your life, and it is important to consult experienced Atlanta drug crimes lawyer David Schnipper, who understands the consequences and intricacies of how prosecutors make determinations about which drug crimes charges to file. Attorney Schnipper worked for two District Attorney’s offices, and understands how prosecutors make their decisions. He is available to his clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact Attorney Schnipper online or call 404-983-6051 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.