If you are facing the possibility of federal or state drug charges, you may be worried about the effect that your conviction may have on your work, family, and future. Georgia laws, like those in many states, treat drug offenders harshly, often imposing stiff fines or lengthy time in jail. For this reason, it is extremely important that anyone facing charges consult a Atlanta drug crimes attorney. At Schwartz Trial Law LLC, criminal defense lawyer Ryan Schwartz understands the complexities of drug laws in Georgia and the risks that defendants may face.Offenses Related to Drug Possession
Although drug crimes are often thought of as a single category of criminal charges, they encompass many types of illegal activity, ranging from simple drug possession to the very serious federal crime of drug trafficking. Georgia law generally focuses on three types of drug crimes: possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking.
The crime of drug possession includes both actual and constructive possession, and it generally results in felony charges. Actual possession may be charged when an individual is found with drugs on his or her person, or in another circumstance in which it is clear that the individual knowingly had control over the drugs. Constructive possession occurs when the defendant had the power to control the drugs, but they were not in his or her possession, such as if the drugs were in an individual’s drawer at home.
Possession with intent to distribute is a more severe felony than possession and is usually charged based on circumstantial evidence, such as possessing drugs along with a large amount of cash or other paraphernalia that would suggest an intent to sell the drugs rather than to use them personally.
The penalties for drug possession and possession with intent to distribute depend on the type of drug possessed by the defendant. Illegal drugs are divided into five different categories, known as schedules, under Georgia law. For example, Schedule I drug possession (heroin, LSD, and cocaine) is subject to far harsher penalties than Schedule V possession (medicines containing codeine). Generally, a conviction will result in at least one year of jail time, and it may even result in up to 30 years of jail for a conviction involving a Schedule I substance.Drug Trafficking in Georgia
Trafficking is the most severe of drug crimes. It may be charged when an individual possesses a significant quantity of drugs, and it appears that they were brought in from outside the state or that the defendant intended to distribute them outside the state. The exact quantity of drugs needed to support a trafficking charge is exceedingly complex and depends on the type of drug and the purity of the drug. For instance, the more pure the cocaine that a defendant possesses, the less that is needed for a trafficking charge. Drug trafficking convictions have mandatory minimum sentences, meaning the judge must impose at least a certain amount of jail time. In many circumstances, the mandatory minimum is 10 years or more.Protect Your Rights against the Prosecution
In order to determine whether someone has an illegal drug in his or her possession, police must often search the suspect and his or her home and belongings, seize the drugs, and test the drugs to determine what they are. At each step in this process, a defendant’s rights may be violated, or errors may occur that may result in reduced or dropped charges. For instance, all citizens are entitled to protection from unlawful searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, meaning that the police must have a basis to search before doing so. A failure to abide by these protections may result in a drug charge being dismissed.Enlist a Atlanta Attorney to Fight a Drug Crimes Charge
Drug convictions can have a lasting effect on a person’s freedom and livelihood. Despite these harsh consequences, the criminal justice system frequently fails to provide defendants with the advocacy that they deserve. As a former prosecutor who has seen the process from the inside, Atlanta drug crimes lawyer Ryan Schwartz understands how these charges are treated by the Georgia judicial system. At Schwartz Trial Law LLC, we can work with you to explore your options and vigorously assert your rights. Ryan Schwartz also is available to people who need a theft offenses attorney or guidance in a wide range of other criminal matters. He can represent defendants throughout the Atlanta metro area, as well as in Lawrenceville, Gainesville, Decatur, Woodstock, Johns Creek, Suwannee, and Jonesboro, among other Georgia cities. Call us at (678) 460-7568 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.