A good drug defense attorney starts early in the case the find out what defense are available to the client. It is important for the drug defense attorney to review all of the evidence in the clients case, such as witness testimony, lab tests, video evidence, audio evidence, etc. The law in Georgia regarding drug charges is known as the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
The Georgia Controlled Substances Act found at O.C.G.A. § makes it a crime to possession any drug listed in the "schedules" provided in the code. The "schedules" of controlled substances are found at O.C.G.A. § 16-13-25 through O.C.G.A. § 16-13-29. The drugs listed in the code are both legal (medical) drugs, and illegal drugs. It is illegal to possess a legal (medical) drug without a prescription, and it is illegal to possess any illegal drug. Illegal drugs are drugs such as cocaine, heroine, LSD, etc. Generally, it is a felony offense in Georgia to possess any controlled substance listed in the code. For possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, see our page on Marijuana Defense by clicking below:
Basically, drug charges are divided into three main levels. These are: (1) possession, (2) possession with intent to distribute, and (3) trafficking.
There are different levels of punishment for a person violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. The punishment depends on the servility of the violation. The Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Bill (HB 1176) of 2012 changed the punishment for drug offenses dramatically.
Sometimes referred to as “simple possession,” is when a person has a drug, and had no intent to either sell it, or otherwise distribute it to others. The possible sentence on a conviction of possession of a drug depends on what drug a person possessed. The sentence could range from one year to fifteen years, depending on the drug, and other circumstances.
(b) Possession With Intent to Distribute:
Conviction of this offense depends largely on factors surrounding the possession of the drug, not just the drug itself. For instance, the court would look at quantity of the drug involved, and other things involved in the case, around the drug when a person got arrested with the drug, such as a lot of cash, scales, notebooks with lists of (buyer) names, an actual sale when the arrest happened, etc. A sentence for possession with intent to distribute is more severe than simple possession.
Trafficking applies only when certain drugs are involved, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, etc. The focus on a trafficking prosecution is the amount of the drug involved, and it usually must be a very large amount to warrant a conviction for trafficking. A conviction for trafficking brings mandatory minimum prison sentences, huge fines, and is among the most serious drug charges in Georgia.
A person charged with possession of drugs may have defenses to such charges. A good lawyer can analyze a drug case and use any defenses to get the charges dismissed, or to win at trial. Such defenses as "the equal access rule" can help a person charged with a drug offense get the charges dismissed. For example, the Georgia Court of Appeals handed down a powerful decision regarding the "equal access rule" as a defense to possession of drugs in Georgia in Rogers v. State, 690 Ga.App. 437 (2010).
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