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.
Georgia law regulates the use of drugs and has severe penalties for drug crimes. According to the Georgia Drug Threat Assessment, Atlanta has become a regional hub for the transportation and distribution of drugs.
A drug-related charge is a very serious matter. Activities such as possessing, growing, and selling controlled substances are against the law. In Georgia, any conviction for violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (GCSA) carries severe penalties. In addition to criminal penalties, you may face suspension of your driver’s license, financial losses, damage to your career, and if you are a student, serious threats to your academic career.
If you have been accused of a drug crime in Georgia, you do have options. Seek the help of a knowledgeable Atlanta drug crimes attorney to protect your rights as soon as possible.
State Drug Laws Apply in Atlanta
Georgia’s complicated controlled substances statutes classify different types of drugs and establish the severity of penalties for crimes involving each. The classifications are called “schedules” and are primarily based upon the drug’s potential for abuse. There are five levels of controlled substances, Schedule I being the most serious, and Schedule V being the least serious:
These drugs have no accepted medical use and are considered unsafe, even when taken under the supervision of a medical professional. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, Psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (Ecstasy), and in some cases, marijuana.
Even though some states have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana possession, in Georgia, possession of less than one ounce of weed is still a misdemeanor. What’s more, in certain situations, marijuana possession can be charged under Georgia statutes as felony possession of a Schedule I substance. Do not assume that just because pot use is legalized in other states, that you will not face potential penalties for possessing it in Georgia.
These substances, such as oxycontin and morphine, are used for medical purposes under supervision. However, they also have a high likelihood of psychological or physical dependency.
These drugs, such as Vicodin and anabolic steroids, are used by medical professionals. They have a low to moderate risk of abuse or dependency.
Schedule IV and V
Schedule IV and V substances have a lower potential for abuse or dependency and are commonly prescribed by medical professionals. Xanax and Ambien are examples of Schedule IV substances. Cough medicines with small amounts of codeine are Schedule V substances.
Section OCGA 16-13-30 of the Georgia code of laws deals with marijuana. Georgia does not recognize a medical or recreational use for marijuana. Penalties depend upon the amount of marijuana possessed. Possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Possession of more than 1 ounce but less than 10 pounds is a felony. If a person has 10 pounds or more in their possession, they may face drug trafficking charges.
Under Georgia law, drug crimes include the following:
- Possession – Anyone caught with illegal substances may be charged with drug possession. If an individual is in possession of drugs, and they do not have a prescription or some other legal reason to possess it, they may be charged with drug possession. This charge applies to any illegal substance, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, but it also applies to prescription medicine if the person does not have a valid prescription. Simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, but for most other drugs, simple possession is a felony. Depending on the amount of drug, it may be drug trafficking, which is a much more serious offense.
- Possession with intent to sell – The crime of drug possession with the intent to sell is subject to strict penalties. Determining whether a person possessed drugs with intent to sell may involve many factors, including the amount of drugs found, the way the drugs are packaged, the presence of a measuring device or large amounts of cash, and more.
- Trafficking in drugs and drug-related objects – This is the most serious of the Georgia drug crimes. Drug trafficking charges are based upon the sale, manufacture, delivery or possession of prohibited quantities of particular drugs. Penalties depend on the type of drug and the quantity found.
Other possible drug charges include:
- Cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of drugs
- Prescription fraud
- Medical marijuana violations
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Being under the influence of drugs
Georgia Drug Crime Penalties
Under Georgia law, drugs are organized into categories, or schedules, based on the potential risk for abuse and destruction in the lives of users. Possession of a Schedule I, II, and III drugs carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail or up to 30 years for repeat offenses. Possession of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison or up to 10 years for subsequent offenses. Most controlled substance charges are classified as felonies, and the penalties for all felonies under the act start with at least a year of incarceration.
Possible Defenses to Drug Crimes
There are a wide variety of possible defenses to a charge of violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. Some of those include:
- The drugs belong to someone else
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Crime lab analysis—the prosecution must prove that the substance is the illegal drug in question
- Missing drugs—if the prosecution loses the actual drugs, the case may be dismissed
- The drugs were planted
The facts and circumstances of each case are unique. The penalties for a drug distribution conviction can be affected by factors such as whether the charge is a first offense; whether you have a criminal record; and whether you have served previous jail time.
If you or someone you love is facing a drug charge in Georgia, you need an experienced Atlanta drug crimes lawyer. The consequences of a drug conviction can affect all aspects of your life. You need an attorney who not only knows the law but also is familiar with the courts and prosecutors. At Schnipper Law, we will examine the facts of the case, advise you of your options, and zealously defend your case. For a free consultation, call (404) 545-5845 or contact us today.
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.
Contact an Experienced Atlanta Drug Crime Attorney for Assistance
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 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 404-545-5845 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.