Our legal team at Weintraub & Alper Legal is exceptionally knowledgeable in search and seizure laws. Our attorneys will ensure that your constitutional rights have not been violated through law enforcement's discovery of drugs on your person, car, home, etc. With our legal support and protection of your rights, you will enjoy a much stronger likelihood of having your drug crime charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Georgia Drug Possession Laws
Possession of illegal drugs is a grave matter. For example, possession of just one gram of marijuana, even if you have never been arrested before this incident, exposes you to:
- A sentence of up to 12 months
- Payment of a fine of up to $1,000.00
- The creation of a permanent criminal record
To illustrate just how small one gram of marijuana is, a package of Sweet 'N Low artificial sweetener weighs one gram.
Further, even if you are caught with this one gram of marijuana while you had nothing to do with driving a car (such as while you were attending a rock concert at Phillips Arena in Atlanta or walking on the sidewalk with your friends in Atlanta's Buckhead community), your Georgia driver's license or your privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended for six months.
This is a hard suspension and goes without any limited permit to allow you to go to and from school or to drive to and from work. If such loss of your driver's license causes you to lose your job because of your conviction for even just one gram of marijuana, the Georgia Department of Driver Services' response is "tough luck."
Drug Possession Charges and Your Rights
Possession of drug prosecutions often involves search and seizure issues under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 1, Paragraph XIII of the 1983 Georgia Constitution. Every person in our country has the constitutional right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures of their person, home, automobile, business, etc. The discovery of drugs often follows an apparent traffic stop of a motorist (often for "speeding" and/or for "failure to maintain a lane") and a subsequent search of his vehicle. A court-issued search warrant is not always needed to substantiate a person's vehicle search.
A warrantless search of your car for drugs can be based on the officer claiming that you - the car's driver - supposedly consented to the search. Also, the officer could claim that he accumulated evidence after he pulled you over that provided him with probable cause to believe that drugs were on your person and/or then secreted in your car, thereby permitting the officer to search your vehicle. Note that as to marijuana, the Georgia appellate courts have held that the odor of burnt marijuana - in and of itself - is enough evidence to constitutionally permit an officer to force the driver and the passengers out of the car, frisk the occupants of the car for weapons and drugs, and search the entire vehicle for drugs: all without a court-issued search warrant.
Possession With Intent To Distribute
Georgia drug possession laws prohibit anyone from possessing either controlled or uncontrolled substances with the intent to distribute. If charged with this crime, the laws heavily penalize anyone convicted and face felony-level consequences. These penalties may include substantial fines and lengthy imprisonment terms.
What are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Georgia?
Your consequences will largely depend on the substance in your possession. Georgia categorizes different sets of drugs by a "schedule" system, from 1 to 5. Schedule I drugs may include heroin, LSD, or ecstasy, while Schedule 5 drugs could include anything that contains a small amount of codeine or opium.
The penalties may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Schedule I and II drugs
- 1st offense: Between 5 to 30 years imprisonment
- Two or more offenses: Between 10 to 40 years imprisonment; life sentence is possible
Schedule III, IV, and V:
- Between 1 to 10 years imprisonment
The law will also consider how much evidence is discovered to determine the severity of the charges. If items such as measuring scales or plastic bags are found, these may be seen as tools to enable the transport or sale of drugs. These items could be scrutinized heavily or used to support prosecuting arguments during trials, jury deliberations, and sentencing. That is why it is essential to speak with an Atlanta drug possession attorney immediately to determine whether or not this evidence is enough to uphold the charges.
Is Drug Possession a Felony?
Possession of other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other unlawful substances is a felony and is punishable by imprisonment for more than twelve months. A conviction of a felony exposes the defendant to the following:
- Not being eligible to obtain many positions of employment or admission into colleges and post-graduate programs
- Not being permitted to possess and/or use a firearm
- Not being eligible to be licensed as a lawyer, doctor, teacher, accountant, etc
- Not being eligible to vote
- Harsher terms of imprisonment
- Higher fines
- Asset forfeiture
The impact of one foolish indiscretion can follow you for the rest of your life.
Contact Weintraub & Alper Legal today to schedule a consultation with our Atlanta drug possession attorney!
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