Drug Charges in Georgia
The possession of illegal drugs can result in jail time and license suspension, and can affect the ability to obtain or retain a job. Therefore it is important to hire a lawyer experienced and skilled in drug defense.
Although Georgia law punishes many activities with regard to illegal drugs, the two most common charges are “possession” and “possession with intent to distribute.” As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I have successfully defended many clients against both of these charges, as well as a variety of other drug-related charges.
A person is guilty of “possession” of a drug when they “possess” a drug with the knowledge that the drug is illegal. Possession can either be “actual” or “constructive.” Actual possession is easy to prove, as when the drugs are found in your pocket. “Constructive” possession is proven by circumstantial evidence, as when drugs are found in a car in which you are driving. In some cases, the charge may simply be written as “VGCSA,” or a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. If you are driving at the time of the arrest, you may also be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Possession with Intent to Distribute
In addition to possessing an illegal drug, if there is intent to “distribute” or sell the drug, that is charged as possession with intent to distribute. This is sometimes determined simply by the amount of the drug the citizen had, but it can also be determined by specific evidence of an intent to sell the drugs. A big difference between possession and possession with intent to distribute: possession of Schedule I and II drugs carries a sentence of 2 to 15 years in prison, while possession with intent to distribute those same drugs carries a sentence of 5 to 30 years!
In addition to the well-known charges of drug possession and possession with intent to distribute, Georgia also has a separate crime known as “drug trafficking.” Trafficking involves cocaine, heroin, methaqualone, meth, and ecstasy. The sale or distribution of the above drugs, in certain amounts, is the element in the crime of trafficking. For each trafficking offense, there is a mandatory punishment depending on the type of drug and the amount possessed.
Prescription Drug Fraud
It is illegal in Georgia to possess prescription medications that are not in their original containers, whether you are prescribed those drugs or not. Of course it is also illegal to prescribe or obtain prescription drugs fraudulently, including possessing or using medications which were legally prescribed to someone else, because these are also controlled substances. In addition, many prescription drugs have limits on driving, and regardless of whether or not these medications were legally prescribed to you, you can be charged with DUI if you are driving with them in your system.
Georgia Controlled Substances Act
If you are charged with any drug charge in Georgia, you may see the charges written as “VGCSA”. This simply means you are charged with Violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. Drug charges in Georgia are usually a felony, although possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor.
The Act contains 5 schedules of controlled substances. Schedule I includes the most dangerous drugs and Schedule V the least dangerous.
Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, have no acceptable medical use and include opiates such as heroin, and hallucinogens such as MDMA(Ecstasy), and LSD.
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse but may have some medical use, and include opiates such as codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, amphetamines and cocaine.
Schedule III drugs have a lesser potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, have accepted medical use, and if abused may lead to moderate or low physical dependence. This includes certain stimulants, certain depressants, substances containing limited narcotic concentrations, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse relative to Schedule III drugs, have acceptable medical use, but if abused may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. They include Xanax, Valium, Wellbutrin, and certain other prescription drugs.
Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse relative to Schedule IV drugs, have accepted medical use, and may lead to limited physical and psychological dependence, including limited amounts of narcotic drugs such as codeine.
Marijuana is also treated as a controlled substance; however, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in jail, whereas any amount over one ounce is a felony.
Why Hire Mickey Roberts?
Mickey Roberts has defended those accused of drug possession, as well as drug distribution, for over 34 years. Many of those cases also involved high school and college students charged with drug possession.
Most drug cases initially start out with either a vehicle stop and subsequent search, or with a search warrant obtained by the police to search a person’s home. All of these cases involve the 4th Amendment, which prohibits the unreasonable search of a person’s home, person, and effects, including cars. Your lawyer MUST know the current case law on “search and seizure.”
Mickey Roberts has handled hundreds of cases where he has aggressively attacked unlawful searches where drugs have been found. He is considered a 4th Amendment expert.
In addition, he has taken forensic science classes which enable him to understand how the State tests for drugs and therefore also how to attack the validity of these tests.
Sample Win: Case was thrown out for illegal search when police followed my client into an open garage, then searched the garage, violating my client’s 4th Amendment rights.