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.
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.
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.