Possession of Marijuana in GA Is Illegal
The State of Georgia under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and under federal law under the Controlled Substances Act regulate controlled substances. Under Georgia marijuana laws, possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the amount of marijuana.
Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana in GA
Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for misdemeanor possession can include:
- License suspension;
- Spending up to 12 months in jail;
- Up to $1,000 in fines; and
Even misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges may result in a criminal record which may affect your admission to schools or maintenance of professional licenses.
Felony Possession of Marijuana in GA
Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana may lead to felony charges and sentence including:
- Suspended license;
- 1-10 years in prison with a 1 year mandatory minimum sentence; and
- $5,000 in fines.
Felony Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Distribute
If charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, you may face up to 1 to 10 years in prison for 10 lbs or less of marijuana, and up to 30 years in prison for over 10 pounds.
Felony Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Distribute Within a 1,000 of School or Park
If you are charged with felony possession of marijuana within a 1000 feet of school grounds, a park, or a housing project, the sentence involves a minimum of 5 and up to 40 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.
The consequences for possession of marijuana increase with each conviction, so a second possession of marijuana charge will result in a harsher sentence than the first.
What Constitutes “Possession”?
Georgia has very specific laws when it comes to marijuana. While some states are moving to legalize the drug, Georgia still considers it a crime to sell or possess the drug. That doesn’t appear likely to change until the federal government moves to legalize it across the U.S. Even then, individual states can still make possession and distribution illegal.
When the Marijuana Is in Someone Else’s Possession
According to O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(j), Georgia law makes it a crime to have marijuana “under your control”. In other words, there may be points at which a Georgia prosecutor pursues possession charges even when you’re aware that the marijuana is in someone else’s possession.
For instance, let’s say that you rent an apartment and your friends bring over some pot. You are all enjoying your pot when an officer suddenly busts through the door. Even though the pot technically does not belong to you, a prosecutor can argue that you are also guilty of possession because you allowed the pot into your apartment.
When Someone in Your Car Is Found With Marijuana
The same argument can be made when an individual in your car is found with marijuana. This is known as “constructive” possession. In the case of your apartment, the police will likely find a living room smelling of pot with a frightened look on your face. In this case, it won’t be difficult for the prosecution to say that you exercised control over the pot.
If the pot is found in the pocket of one of your friends, you can always claim that you didn’t know it was there. It is much easier to prove this point. A skilled Georgia marijuana possession attorney can help you weigh your options.
In either event, claiming that the marijuana belongs to someone else does not constitute a valid defense if you are caught in possession of it. On the other hand, simply being near marijuana is not enough to claim that you are in possession of it.
How We Can Help
Given the severe consequences of even a misdemeanor marijuana charge, its important that you consult with a marijuana attorney immediately. From the time of your arrest until completion of your case, we are your best advocate.
Possible Case Dismissal Before Trial
We will sit down with you for an initial consultation to gather information about your case and answer any questions.
We will research the GA marijuana laws throughout our representation to protect your rights.
Moreover, we will fight to have the case dismissed before trial by filing Motions to Quash, Motions to Dismiss, and Motions to Suppress. If your constitutional rights are violated under the Fourth Amendment, we can have evidence, statements, or identifications suppressed. Or, we can move to have the case dismissed if you are unlawfully arrested, the statute of limitations has expired, you are not given your right to a speedy trial, or you’re being prosecuted for a second time for the same offense (double jeopardy).
Experience Working With Prosecutors to Keep Your Record Clean
We are familiar with the local courts and prosecutors and can also negotiate with prosecutors about potential plea deals. Oftentimes, We work with prosecutors to fight for conditional release of a marijuana charge, so that if you complete probation, the marijuana charge drops from your record.
We can also work to get pre-trail diversion. The court dismisses the charges upon completion of a diversion program.
Thorough Preparation for Trial
The prosecution has the burden to prove that you are guilty. Throughout the trial we will hold the prosecution to this burden. We will teach the jury that you are innocent until the prosecutor proves that you are a guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We will do this by reminding the jury of this during opening and closing statements. Furthermore, We will make sure the judge properly instructs the jury about this important burden at the beginning and end of the trial.
- We will prepare witnesses for your case if there are any.
- We will cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses to undermine the credibility of the officers and other witnesses. Additionally, we will ask questions which help the jury to see holes in the prosecutor’s case.
- We will make sure the court follows all the rules designed to protect defendants.
- During the trial, we may be able to undermine the prosecutor’s allegations that anyone identified you by calling or cross-examining witnesses.
- We may also be able to show that the prosecutor cannot prove that you “knowingly” possessed marijuana. If the jury believes that you did not know the drugs were present, you cannot be convicted.
- We will make sure that the prosecutor can prove that the substance taken from the scene of the crime is in fact drugs. We also inquire whether or not the drugs were transferred between police officers and the testing lab properly. If they were not, you cannot be convicted.
- We will ask the court to dismiss the case before the jury even deliberates if the DA failed to prove the case.
- We will look for any affirmative defenses to prevent conviction.
Can a Drug Conviction Affect Employment or Financial Aid?
In Georgia, you must be convicted of a felony drug offense to be denied financial aid by the State of Georgia. The State of Georgia, however, can only exert dominion over its own state programs. In other words, they cannot deny federal student loans to a student because they were convicted of a drug crime.
Your federal student aid can also be affected by a drug conviction. However, federal regulations are slightly more lenient. If you complete a drug rehabilitation program, you can apply for reinstatement. In some cases, you will be eligible for student aid even if you are incarcerated.
In terms of employment, Georgia sets some limits on how an employer can use a criminal background check against you during the application process. For instance, if you were given probation as opposed to jail time, that is not considered a conviction. Otherwise, the State of Georgia does allow employers to use that information against you.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Conviction for Possession of Marijuana is a serious charge that will change your future. We can work with you to prevent a conviction or lessen the consequences. Let us represent you in order to protect your rights.