Possession of a Controlled Substance Is Illegal and a Conviction Will Affect Your Future
Controlled substances are regulated by the State of Georgia under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and under federal law under the Controlled Substances Act. Under Georgia law, possession of a controlled substance can be a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the type of controlled substance and the amount.
Georgia Controlled Substances Schedule
Controlled substances are divided into five different “schedules” or lists of substances.
- Schedule I includes drugs with a high potential for abuse with no medical use including heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.
- Schedule II includes drugs with a high potential for abuse and dependence. But that also has a medical use such as Cocaine and Amphetamines.
- Schedule III, IV and V include drugs with progressively lower potential for abuse and addiction, and that can be used medically including some anabolic steroids.
Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance
Possession of a controlled substance of a Schedule I or II substance (drugs judged most addictive and dangerous) are felonies. The punishments include:
- Possession of a controlled substance of a Schedule I, or narcotic drug in Schedule II — for less than one gram (or one milliliter of a liquid) 1-3 years in jail, up to four grams or milliliters is 1 to 8 years in jail, and jail time continues to escalate as the amount of the substance increases.
- Non-narcotic Schedule II substances — less than two grams or milliliters of a liquid 1-3 years in jail, up to four grams or milliliters 1 to 8 years in jail, and jail time continues to escalate as the amount of the substance increases.
Possession of a Schedule III, IV and V substance is also a felony with 1-10 years in jail.
Less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor and a conviction will suspend your license and result in up to 12 months in jail, $1,000 fine, and probation. More than one ounce of marijuana is a felony charge which will suspend your license, and result in 1-10 years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines.
In Georgia, if this is a first-time offense, you may be able to get the charges discharged on the condition that you have not been convicted of any drug-related crimes. The court will likely impose a period of probation. If you violate the law during this period, the court will then pursue the initial charges against you. The court may also require the defendant to check themselves into a drug treatment program. The discharge may also be conditional on following up with that treatment. If the defendant follows all the rules outlined on their probation, the charges will be dismissed and they won’t appear on the defendant’s record.
Defenses to a Drug Possession Charge
The best defenses to drug possession are procedural. In other words, when your attorney can show that the arresting officers themselves violated the law, any charges against you related to the drugs can be dismissed. There are a couple of instances when this is the case. They are listed below:
Illegal Search and Seizure
The fourth amendment dictates the terms under which the government can invade the privacy of any individual and search their person or property. In order to search an individual’s property, a police officer must either have probable cause or a warrant issued by a judge. In the absence of either of these, the search is illegal unless you gave your consent. The evidence will be tossed and, with it, the prosecution’s case.
Entrapment is not as easy to raise as a defense as most people believe. When a sting operation crosses the line, the officer must induce the defendant to do the crime. In this case, the defense must be able to show that the defendant would not have committed the crime without the pressure of a police officer. If the prosecution successfully argues that a defendant was predisposed to commit the crime, then an entrapment defense will fail.
The Drugs Were Planted
This is a difficult argument to prove and you will have to prove it. An officer’s testimony will hold a lot of authority with a jury. Additionally, the officer will be defending themselves from a criminal charge as well. Arguing that the evidence was planted is a risky proposition.
The Drugs Are Missing
Your defense attorney should force the prosecution to actually present the drugs in court. This way, everyone can be sure that the drugs in question are actually drugs and that the amount allegedly in your possession is correct. If the drugs are missing, the court will not be able to verify any of the charges.
The Drugs Belonged to Someone Else
Lastly, you can argue that the drugs were not yours at all but someone else’s. Possession doesn’t necessarily mean ownership, however. It simply means they were under your control. Knowledge is enough to prove this in some cases. By raising this defense, however, your defense attorney pressures the prosecution into proving that you had knowledge of the drugs or exerted control over them.
Let Us Help You Protect Your Future
Even a misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance for marijuana charges could result in having a criminal record with a drug conviction, affecting:
- School admissions and attendance,
- Student loan and public housing eligibility, and
- Your ability to get or maintain professional licenses.
In addition to the problems described above, a felony conviction will further limit job and educational opportunities. Also, Georgia law creates a lifetime ban on food stamp eligibility. You cannot vote while incarcerated and on probation or parole.
I Will Fight to Get Your Case Dismissed
I will continue work with you throughout your case to learn the facts, and investigate to learn more information. Also, I will research the laws unique to your situation, to find a legal theories can to protect you.
I will demand that the prosecutor has real evidence. Drug tests done soon after arrests are often inaccurate, and I will make sure the drugs are scientifically tested.
I will use techniques in the law of criminal procedure which could stop your case from going to trial. Depending on the case, I may be able to file Motions to Quash, Motions to Dismiss, and Motions to Suppress. If the police or prosecutor violated your Fourth or Sixth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, we can have evidence, statements, or identifications suppressed so that they cannot be used at trial. Usually, a prosecutor is then forced to dismiss the case. This is because they no longer have any evidence to convince the jury to convict a defendant.
I can also move to dismiss your entire case if:
- You were unlawfully arrested,
- The statute of limitations has expired,
- Your Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights are violated because you are not given your right to trial in a reasonable time, or
- You’re being prosecuted for a second time for the same offense.
We Are Experienced Working With Prosecutors to Keep Your Record Clean
I often negotiate with prosecutors about potential plea deals, and work with prosecutors to get clients a conditional release of a client with their first controlled substance charge. This is so that if you complete probation, the controlled substance charge will be dropped from your record.
I Am Ready for Trial
Throughout the trial we will hold the prosecution to their burden to prove that you are guilty. I will:
- Teach the jury that you are innocent until the prosecutor proves to them that you are a guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during opening and closing statements, and remind them as I question witnesses.
- Make sure the judge properly instructs the jury about this important burden at the beginning and end of the trial.
- Search for helpful witnesses for you case, and if there are any, prepare them to testify.
- Cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses if I can undermine the credibility of the officers and other witnesses
- Ask questions to help the jury to see holes in the prosecutor’s case like whether you “knowingly” possessed a controlled substance (if the jury believes that you did not know the drugs were present, you cannot be convicted).
- Make sure the court, and the prosecutor, follows all the rules designed to protect defendants so that you get a fair trial.
- Make sure that the prosecutor can prove that the substances were scientifically proven to be drugs, and were transferred between police officers and the testing lab properly.
Contact George McCranie Law Firm Today
Don’t let conviction for possession of a controlled substance ruin your future. Let me work for you to prevent a conviction or work for a more lenient sentence.