In Georgia, to possess a drug means to physically have control of a drug, have constructive possession of a drug, or to have knowledge of the drug and the right or ability to control it. If an individual is found in possession of a drug, they may be charged with a crime.
To properly defend against such allegations, it is important to consult with a Georgia drug possession lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can begin building an effective defense strategy to help combat a Georgia drug possession charge.
Severity of the Charge
Law enforcement officers look for any violations of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act when prosecuting a drug possession charge. However, societal pressures and the perception of heroin and methamphetamine problems cause law enforcement officers to target those types of crimes in addition to marijuana, which is a more commonly held drug.
Building a Defense
The defense strategies for the possession of drug charges in Georgia begins with a thorough investigation of the case. Possession of drug offenses often occurs because of a traffic stop. Attorneys look at whether a law enforcement officer had articulable reasonable suspicion for the initial traffic stop and whether the officer had probable cause to arrest.
Attorneys look at the circumstances surrounding the search that led to the seizure of the drug to determine if there was a violation of a constitutional provision including the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. They look at the warrant to make sure that all technical requirements of the warrant were conducted.
A drug lawyer also contacts the prosecutor to begin channels of negotiation and communication and tries to poke holes in the state’s case that may lead to positive resolution of the case. Such actions are most effective when building a defense strategy for drug possession charges in Georgia.
The first constitutional issue that can be used when determining the defense strategy in a Georgia drug possession case is any violation of the Fourth Amendment, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, and per Georgia constitutional protections.
The second is a violation of a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, where a police officer seeks to interrogate a subject without first advising them of their rights under a case called Miranda versus Arizona.
The third is a violation of the person’s Sixth Amendment right, which is the right to an attorney in all critical stages including the right to an attorney at the time of questioning. Such issues can be used to build a proper defense strategy against a Georgia drug possession case.
A police officer who arrests a subject may interrogate the subject while in custody, but only after advising them of their rights under Miranda versus Arizona. That specifically includes the right to remain silent. The officer must inform the subject that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law and they have the right to an attorney.
The Miranda warning tells the subject that they are entitled to an attorney and if they cannot afford one, one will be provided to them before any questioning they face under dire.
Mistakes to Avoid
The biggest mistake to avoid in drug possession cases is speaking with the police after the time of the arrest. Georgia citizens have the right to remain silent and often are unable to use that right in a stressful situation.
This is important because law enforcement officers who are conducting an interrogation or questioning a subject in custody are doing so because they want to gain additional evidence. For example, this occurs often in a case where a person constructively possesses a drug because the drug is in a vehicle that the subject is a passenger in. There may be defenses that are extinguished by the person’s acknowledgment of the drug.
Another example is when marijuana is present and there are three passengers and a driver in the car. All four are in constructive possession of that marijuana. In a constructive possession case, the state must prove knowledge of the drug and the ability to control it. The admission that one knows that the marijuana is in the car helps the police officer meet one of those elements.
Benefit of an Attorney
An experienced drug crime attorney is important to contact early because they know how to evaluate the case to expose potential holes in the state’s case. This is important because it may lead to a dismissal. It may lead to downgrading the charges or to a favorable plea at the time of sentencing that mitigates the consequences to a person accused of these types of crimes.