Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act (VGCSA) cases are intimidating to face in Georgia because they may result in a criminal record. In many cases, they lead to collateral consequences.
For example, there are often employment consequences from VGCSA convictions. If a person wants to get a good job, having a drug conviction, or a VGCSA conviction on their record is not a good impression for a potential employer or a recruiter.
To further determine the potential consequences of a Georgia drug charge, it is imperative to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable drug lawyer in Georgia will be able to help an individual combat such penalties by crafting an effective defense strategy.Social Stigmas and School Considerations
Another category of collateral consequences that may stem from a Georgia drug charge are school consequences. If a person wants to go to a good college, a drug crime conviction can derail those school plans. Admissions counselors consider convictions for drug crimes when they make admission decisions for colleges and universities.
Societal stigmas are another issue. People generally view someone with a drug crime as potentially committing other crimes or collateral crimes including theft and entering autos. A conviction for a drug crime can create a negative societal stigma for someone with a conviction.Diversion Programs
A Georgia drug crimes attorney may succeed in avoiding potential consequences by keeping the drug crime conviction from appearing on the criminal records permanently.
There are several ways this can be accomplished, including dismissal of the case, pre-trial diversion, drug court, conditional discharge pleas, and the use of the First Offender Act.
A drug lawyer in Georgia may have the means to keep the drug offense off the criminal record especially for a first-time offender by use of the First Offender Act, a conditional discharge plea, or some type of a diversion program. Such programs can help minimize any sort of penalties that an individual may face as a result of their Georgia drug charge.Constitutional Issues
Drug cases are often filled with constitutional issues related to violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. A Georgia drug lawyer tries to expose potential violations to the citizen’s right against unreasonable search and seizures and reviews the tactics to finds the drugs used by Georgia police officers and the law enforcement.
In VGCSA cases, the drugs are a crucial piece of evidence for the state. Where the suppression of drug evidence is possible, dismissal of the charges becomes likely. An issue with the methods law enforcement used to find drugs can be a Fourth Amendment violation which is the most common.
A qualified Georgia drug lawyer also looks for violations of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution and under the Georgia Constitution, a person who is accused of the crime and is in custody is entitled to a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
This means that a person who was arrested by law enforcement is not required to speak to the police or to give incriminatory information, coupled with the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment to counsel.Importance of Legal Representation
Under the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, a person who has been arrested by law enforcement is entitled to the help of an attorney in all critical stages of the prosecution. That person can request an attorney to be present at any time during questioning by law enforcement. It is important to know that until a person invokes their right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment or their right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment, law enforcement is free to question the individual.
When an individual requests an attorney prior to questioning, law enforcement is required to honor this request and cannot conduct an interrogation of the subject without a lawyer present. To best understand their rights and avoid any consequences associated with a Georgia drug charge, an individual should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
There are many types of drug charges in Georgia that produce varying degrees of penalties. A misdemeanor possessing drugs charge in Georgia can result in up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. However, in Georgia, there are many surcharges on the fines, such that a $300 fine may end up being billed at $800.
A felony possessing drugs charge can be penalized from between 1 to 15 years, and up to 30 years or life in prison depending upon the quantity the individual is charged with, and how many times the person has been charged beforehand. There are also fines involved in these offenses.Penalized Drugs
Georgia generally follows the scheduling classifications of the federal government with respect to controlled substances. Georgia uses four schedules. The DEA has five drug classification categories. Schedule I drugs or controlled substances are drugs that currently have no acceptable medical use and they have a high potential for abuse and dependency. Examples of schedule one drugs include heroin, LSD, PCP, and ecstasy.
Schedule II drugs or controlled substances are considered dangerous drugs or have the high potential for abuse and dependency. These drugs have medical uses that are accepted but are dangerous due to their addictive properties and potency. Examples of Schedule II drugs include Dilaudid, Vicodin, OxyContin, and ADD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin.
Schedule III drugs are controlled substances or drugs with an acceptable medical use and a low to moderate potential for dependency or abuse. Schedule IV drugs are controlled substances or drugs with an acceptable medical use and a low risk for potential abuse or dependency. Examples of common schedule four drugs include Xanax, Soma, Ambien, and Tramadol which is a muscle relaxant.Short Term Consequences
Short-term consequences for a person charged with committing a drug crime in Georgia include the seizure of evidence and property. Property could include guns, vehicles, cell phones, and other instruments of the crime.
In addition, a person charged with a drug crime can face incarceration until a bond is set. Someone who is convicted or initially accused of a drug crime faces many consequences which can include a loss of employment based on the arrest and suspension from school based on the arrest.
Depending on the type of drug involved, an arrest for the crime may lead an employer or school to make a decision outside of the court process. Georgia is an at-will state, which means that an employee can be terminated for any reason with or without cause. An employer need not wait for cause to terminate the employee. In these types of situations, a Georgia citizen can lose their job even before adjudication in the court system.Long-Term Consequences
The long-term consequences of a Georgia drug conviction include the permanent placing of the conviction on a person’s criminal record. That affects things like health insurance and life insurance, employment, and school admissions.
The record can follow someone with a conviction forever. People may perceive someone convicted of drug crime as having issues that can relate to honesty and integrity, and that can create a negative societal stigma.Aftermath of the Charge
When someone is charged with a drug crime in Georgia, they are arrested and taken to jail, bond out of jail, and then deal with the case in court.
More than likely, a charge is not dropped unless the individual can show the prosecutor that the search was illegal. However, a charge generally is not going to be dropped until an individual has a hearing with a judge. Sometimes, there can be mistakes in the drug testing process. The drugs must be taken to the crime lab and tested. Usually, the police do a pretty good job, but there is plenty of room for error and mistakes. The police can make a mistake when it comes to a search.Contacting an Attorney
A person should contact an attorney at the earliest possible moment, normally once they bond out of jail. Sometimes evidence can be destroyed, so it is important to obtain the reports to see if there are any problems. For example, the person must protect themselves from having a civil forfeiture claim or having their items taken and kept.Benefit of an Attorney
If a person faces a drug charge under the VGCSA statute, they should contact a qualified attorney immediately. If possible, they should speak to them prior to the time of arrest. A person facing such a charge should speak to a lawyer before answering any questions or making any statements to law enforcement.
An accused individual should immediately, upon contact with law enforcement, use the right to remain silent, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to invoke the help of an attorney. By doing so, they can help minimize the consequences of their Georgia drug charge.