Being arrested for a drug-related offense is extremely distressing because Georgia law heavily penalizes crimes involving controlled substances. A DeKalb County drug lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the Georgia Code of Law will prove to be essential in a drug-related case in which your money, your reputation, and your future are all on the line. A simple possession charge for less than one ounce of a controlled substance could mean costly fines, jail time, and a criminal record that marks an individual for life.
A simple possession charge for less than one ounce of a controlled substance could mean costly fines, jail time, and a criminal record that marks an individual for life. Additionally, laws related to controlled substances are complicated, as the schedule of the drug, the amount and the purity, as well as how the substance was discovered can all play a part in the charges and sentencing. The state of Georgia comes down hard on drug-related crimes, which means that jail time and fines are far-reaching.
Drug Crimes in Georgia
There are often many aspects to consider in cases relating to drugs, as there are those who manufacture, those who distribute, those who sell, and those who buy drugs, and at any point in this cycle, a person could be in possession of the controlled substance. Law enforcement is well aware of this, so they do their due diligence in these cases and come down hard on anyone caught with controlled substances. Employing the useful skill set of an experienced drug attorney DeKalb County in as early on in the legal process as possible can play a key role in minimizing a harsh sentence.
Drug-related offenses run the gamut but could include:
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Manufacture and distribution of a controlled substance
- Transporting a controlled substance
- Drug trafficking
- Selling drugs
- Running a “pill mill” (doctors)
There are often multiple charges involved, which means that an individual charged with drug trafficking may also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute. Because each charge carries its own sentencing, jail time and fines can quickly add up.
Classification of Controlled Substances
The Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency offers a copy of Title 16, Chapter 13 of the state code of law on its website, which deals with controlled substances and offers a detailed list of controlled substances as well as related crimes and penalties. The schedule of the substance can greatly impact sentencing.
Examples of controlled substances in each schedule of drugs in Georgia include:
- Schedule I – marijuana, heroin, MDMA, peyote, LSD, psylocilibin (mushrooms)
- Schedule II – cocaine, opiates (morphine), opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl), methamphetamines
- Schedule III – steroids, ketamine, buprenorphine
- Schedule IV – alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium)
- Schedule V – pregabalin (Lyrica), substances containing less than 200mg codeine or less than 100mg opium
A first offense with a Schedule I or II substance may mean anywhere from two to 15 years in prison while a first offense with a Schedule III, IV, or V substance may be one to five years in prison. The substance matters, but the quantity found also influences charges.
Substance and Quantity
The quantity of the substance is of great importance. A possession charge can be a drug trafficking charge if the amount of the substance an individual is caught with is significant enough that it gives authorities reason to believe that there is an intent to sell or distribute. In Georgia a person may be charged with drug trafficking if caught with:
- 28+ grams of crack cocaine or cocaine
- 4+ grams of heroin or opiates like morphine or opium
- 10+ pounds of marijuana
- 28+ grams of methamphetamines
- 28+ grams of MDMA
Possession of a small amount of marijuana may be charged as a misdemeanor, and the sentencing may be up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or one year in a diversion program.
Drug trafficking, or intent to distribute, on the other hand, is a felony charge and a conviction for a first offense could mean fines ranging from $200,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the amount of substance in possession, and up to 25 years in prison according to the OC.G.A. § 16-13-31. Second offenses will result in even greater penalties.
Defending Those Accused of Drug Crimes
Drug crimes are considered among the more serious criminal offenses in Georgia and these charges should not be taken lightly. Because of the major negative impact that penalties of a drug charge in the state of Georgia may have on the accused, it is critical that a drug lawyer in Dekalb County is brought in to build a strong defense.
It is critical to building a sound defense and to have a legal expert who can consider all of the elements of a case in order to negotiate the charges and possible plea bargains in the defendant’s favor.
If you have been arrested for a drug-related crime, contact our firm now to have a DeKalb County drug attorney assess your case and determine the best course of action for your situation.