For teenagers and young adults, a felony drug conviction can throw life off course—sometimes irreparably. Possessing even small quantities of drugs can lead to years in prison, probation and a permanent criminal record. That’s why it’s so important for young people facing felony drug charges to work with a drug defense lawyer. With help, it’s possible to have the charges minimized, dismissed, or reduced to a misdemeanor level, or to avoid a criminal record by pursuing enrollment in a pretrial diversion program.
WHAT ARE SCHEDULE I DRUGS IN GEORGIA?
Under the Georgia law Controlled Substance Act, drugs are classified by schedules. The most serious schedule, Schedule I, includes drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high likelihood of abuse. With drug possession, the schedule and amount determine the consequences.
There are many Schedule I drugs in Georgia but some of the most common are:
PCP (angel dust)
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, but Georgia treats it differently from other Schedule I substances. (Marijuana possession under an ounce is a misdemeanor.)
While possession of any Schedule I drug is a felony, the amount determines the severity of the punishment. Individuals possessing less than 1 gram of solid or 1 milliliter of liquid Schedule I drugs may be sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. If the amount is greater than 1 gram and less than 4 grams, sentencing bumps up to 1-8 years in prison. If it’s more than 4 grams and under 28 grams, the individual may be sentenced to up to 15 years of prison. Sentences become harsher with repeat offenses.
In order to argue a Schedule I drug case, the prosecutor has to show that the defendant possessed the drug. When the drugs are found in the individual’s pocket or personal bag, this is considered actual possession. But when the drugs are found in the individual’s car, house, workplace, dorm, or some other shared space, it’s considered constructive possession.
The law assumes that people have control over what’s inside their cars and know what’s inside their homes. But the state does have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew about the drugs.
Successful defenses sometimes involve questioning the legality of the search or stop in the first place. Did officers have a valid reason for pulling over a vehicle? Was a home search legal? A drug charge lawyer can sometimes successfully argue that the defendant truly did not know he or she possessed the drugs. It’s challenging to mount a defense based on entrapment unless the drug defense lawyer can clearly demonstrate the defendant would not have committed a crime without the influence of an undercover officer.
In some cases, a drug defense attorney can even keep the case out of the criminal justice system. First-time offenders may qualify for diversion programs, which can help individuals avoid criminal convictions altogether and provide access to resources like counseling or rehabilitation services.
A felony drug conviction can have a huge impact on your life. It may lead to the loss of college admissions offers, scholarships, job opportunities and student loan eligibility. But drug cases can be complex, and the prosecution has a high burden of proof to meet. An experienced felony attorney can help minimize or even eliminate the charges. Call us at 770-824-9221 to set up a Defense Strategy Meeting.