Skilled Drug Crimes Defense Attorney in Morgan County, Georgia

Two men holding a drug dog - drug crime lawyer

Anybody who has been arrested for a drug crime in Georgia knows the stakes for being convicted are high. Along with a fine, and jail time, it may mean forfeiture of your property, affect your ability to get a job, have a negative impact on child custody or visitation rights, and cause rifts with family, and friends. For all those reasons, and more, if you or someone you care about is facing a felony or misdemeanor drug charge, it is vital that you put an experienced drug crimes lawyer on your side: one who will aggressively fight for you.

Michael Fulcher Law has a track record of successfully defending people against drug charges in Morgan, Greene County, Putnam, Jasper, Taliaferro, Walton, Newton Counties, and surrounding communities, including the crimes of:

  • Drug possession
  • Possession with intent to distribute
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Drug trafficking

How a drug crime lawyer can help defend against your charges

When it comes to helping people in need of solid legal representation in drug crime cases, we bring loyal advocacy, and zealous protection of our clients’ constitutional rights to the table.

We understand the Georgia drug laws, and make sure to take advantage of all potential avenues for your defense from police violations of probable cause to changes in the law that work to your benefit.

We have faced the prosecutors who may be involved in your case, and know how to counter their strategies.

We bring all our skill, and experience in defending people who have been accused of drug crimes, and will tailor a strategy to your specific situation.

Your defense starts with listening to your story, so we can start looking for the best strategy to refute the police, and prosecution claims, spot potential legal obstacles, and help you achieve the best possible results.

When choosing the right drug crimes attorney to help you, look for one who:

  • Thoroughly investigates the prosecution’s evidence
  • Takes a comprehensive approach by addressing every detail in building your case
  • Gives you options, so you can think about what plan of action is in your best interest
  • Is responsive, and answers your questions in a clear, concise manner
  • Is local, and understands the laws in your jurisdiction
  • Is effective, and competent, with a record of successful outcomes on cases similar to yours
  • Is an advocate who is relentless when it comes to your defense

Among the most common drug crimes in Morgan County are those involving marijuana. Although it is used medicinally, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law, putting it in the same category as heroin, and LSD, among others. In Georgia, there is no legal use for cannabis: using, buying, selling, and growing are all still illegal (although Atlanta, and several other cities have decriminalized possession of less than one ounce), and medicinal use is highly restricted. There is little chance that laws regarding recreational marijuana use laws will loosen up any time soon: efforts to allow it have been rejected many times over.

Whether charged with possession, distribution, use or sale of marijuana or any other involving crime including methamphetamine, cocaine/crack cocaine, prescription drugs, we work hard to mitigate your charges or get them dismissed.

It is more than our experience, it is our passion to tip the scales in your favor, and to protect your rights, and your freedom.

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When you need a lawyer after being charged with a DUI or criminal offense or as you explore your options for filing a personal injury claim, look no further than Michael Fulcher Law’s impressive background, and ultra-attentive client service. To learn more about how we can help you achieve the best legal solution possible for your circumstances, call our criminal defense law firm at (706) 438-1555 or contact us online, and schedule your free consultation today.

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Why you need a qualified drug crimes lawyer if charged with drug trafficking

Overall, Georgia has among the strictest drug laws in the U.S. Of course, some charges are more severe than others. Among the most serious of drug crimes is drug trafficking, which is generally defined as the crime of possessing, selling, transporting, or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances or prescription drugs over an amount specified by law.

Georgia’s laws mirror federal statutes in most cases., and while it is similar to drug possession, drug trafficking is a felony. So, yes: you need a skilled, knowledgeable, and aggressive attorney if you have been charged for drug trafficking because—while they vary depending on the drug “schedule”, and the amount—penalties for a conviction may include:

  • Possession (trafficking) of any Schedule I or narcotic Schedule II drugs: punishable with 5-30 years in prison. Subsequent convictions are punishable with 10-40 years or life in prison. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Schedule I drugs are defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use, and a high potential for abuse.” Schedule II drugs are considered dangerous as they have a “high potential for abuse” that may lead to “severe psychological or physical dependence.” Examples of schedule II drugs are Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and oxycodone/OxyContin.
  • Possession (trafficking) of Schedule III, IV, or V drugs: punishable by 1-10 years in prison. Subsequent convictions are punishable with 1-10 years in prison. These include drugs that have a moderate to lower potential for abuse and/or physical or psychological dependence.

The only real difference between drug trafficking, and possession with intent to distribute is generally the amount. In the case of marijuana, if it is about an ounce or so, it will be construed as more than possession for personal use; but it could be considered enough for possession with intent to distribute. However, laws can be tricky. With cocaine, for instance, the amount of drug is tied to its purity; ergo, if the cocaine is less than 10 percent pure, the “weight” would be less than cocaine that is more than 10 percent pure. The Court would assess the percentage of purity, and multiply it by the weight you were carrying to come up with an appropriate sentence.

Other factors that impact penalties include “enhancements,” in which the judge may increase the penalty because of circumstances beyond the trafficking charges. For example, the trafficking took place within 1,000 feet of a school or other “drug-free” zone. In that case, the Court could very well increase (enhance) the jail sentence, fines, or other punishments.

A drug trafficking charge must be taken seriously because the consequences can be severe. Being found with just seven teaspoons of meth carries a mandatory minimum drug trafficking sentence of 10 years. If the quantity is 400 grams or more, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years plus a $1 million fine.

Punishments for trafficking marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs can be equally serious. Busted for trafficking marijuana? If it involves 10 pounds or more, you could be looking at a minimum five year prison term plus a $100,000. In fact, a violation of any provision of Georgia Code § 16-13-31 can lead to “an applicable mandatory minimum punishment, and for not more than 30 years of imprisonment, and by a fine not to exceed $1 million.”

If federal drug trafficking charges are leveled, expect the penalties to be even more extreme. For example, being convicted for a trafficking charge for five kilograms (about 11 pounds) of cocaine, and you could be imprisoned from 10 years to life, and be fined up to $10 million—and that is for a first offense.

As your qualified drug possession, and drug trafficking lawyer, we leave no stone unturned in finding flaws in the prosecution’s case, including improper police procedure, improper search, and seizure, lack of drug possession evidence (including “constructive possession”), or mistakes in the testing or chain of custody of the evidence. If your rights were violated, we will seek to have your case dismissed by winning a Motion to Suppress, and preventing the State from using certain evidence against you in a trial.

Answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions we receive

If you have been charged with a drug crime, we urge you to contact us immediately by calling our office at (706) 438-1555. You have the right to an attorney, and it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. It is common to ask, “where can I find a drug lawyer near me who can help?” We are located in Morgan County, and handle cases in courts in Greene County, Jasper County, Putnam County, Walton County, Newton, and Taliaferro Counties.

Georgia has five drug classifications (called “drug schedules”) of illegal drugs. Unlike 18 other states that, as of 2021, have legalized recreational use of marijuana, Georgia has not followed suit, with the exception of several localities around Atlanta.

In Georgia, the following are drugs are illegal:

  • Schedule I drugs: Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use, and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote. The list of drugs in Georgia is extensive, and includes marijuana. However, while the sale, and distribution of marijuana, and possession of more than one ounce are punishable as felonies, possession of less than an ounce is a misdemeanor. This does not mean you get a free pass: misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. The complete list of Georgia Schedule II drugs include combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
  • Included in the list of Schedule III drugs in Georgia are products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (such as Tylenol with codeine) as well as ketamine, and steroids. Schedule III drugs are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical, and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I, and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.
  • Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse, and low risk of dependence, and include drugs such as Alprazolam, Xanax, Darvon, Valium, Ambien, Zolpidem, and Tramadol.
  • Schedule V drugs have lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV, and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

Penalties for possession vary depending on the drug, and the quantity, but marijuana accounts for the greatest number of drug arrests in Georgia, and throughout the U.S. According to the FBI, in 2019, police across the U.S. arrested “545,602 people for cannabis related crimes in 2019. That arrest rate is 9% higher than the 495,871 people arrested for violent crimes the same year.” Your drug possession lawyer can tell you that most of those were for possession.

Marijuana drug possession, a Schedule I drug, penalties in Georgia are:

  • For possession of less than one ounce of marijuana: A misdemeanor punishable by a term of incarceration or probation of not more than 12 months or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both, or public works not to exceed 12 months.
  • For possession of more than one ounce of marijuana: A felony punishable by a term of incarceration between one, and 10 years.
  • For possession of marijuana with intent to with intent to distribute; or sale, delivery or distribution: any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years. Imprisonment terms generally depend on the quantity of marijuana.

Possession of other Schedule I, and Schedule II drugs: According to Georgia Code § 16-13-30, it is “unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his control any controlled substance.” Penalties for possessing a Schedule I controlled substance (see separate penalties for marijuana in the above paragraph) or Schedule II narcotic drug, are punishable “by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than 15 years.” That is for a first conviction. A third or subsequent conviction for the same offense carries a sentence of up to 30 years.

Controlled substance refers to “a drug, substance, or immediate precursor in Schedules I through V.” A narcotic drug is also a controlled substance but generally refers to opioids.

Unlawful possession of a Schedule III, IV, or V drug is controlled substance is a felony, and punishable by a 1 to 5-year term of incarceration. Unlawful possession means that there is no legal justification or permission; for example, possessing a drug that has no legal medical use in Georgia and/or for which you do not have a valid medical prescription.

As regards to medical marijuana, Georgia’s medical marijuana law “allows certain qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil,” which is derived from the marijuana plant. It authorizes the Georgia Department of Public Health to issue a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” to qualified persons, which will prove that they are authorized to have the oil, and protect them from arrest.”

There are several options for “first-time offenders” in the Georgia legal system that can keep you out of jail. Those who have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, simple have never been previously convicted of violating “any statute of the United States or of any state relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drug” before may be eligible for a conditional discharge, under which the judge can dismiss the charge after the first-time offender meets certain conditions. The conditions that are typically required for a conditional discharge may take up to three years to complete. They include:

  • Probation
  • County jail
  • Regular, mandatory drug screenings
  • Fines
  • Successful comprehensive rehabilitation program/Risk Reduction Program
  • Community service

All requirements must be met in order to be successful. Failure in even one of these requirements these will cause revocation of the conditional discharge. It is important to discuss this with your drug charge lawyer to decide if you can make the commitment since there are no second chances.

There is a second option: under the Georgia First Offender Act, you won’t necessarily avoid some jail time, but upon successful completion of your sentence, you will not have a conviction, and your charge will be sealed from your official criminal history. Your drug crimes attorney informs you of your eligibility, but it is up to you to tell the Court that you are willing to enter the program. Eligibility is based on a number of factors, including no prior felony convictions in any state, and no previous First Offender sentencing. If the judge determines you are eligible, you adhere to all the terms served up by the judge, which can include paying any, and all fines, attending all meetings with your probation officer, and upholding all conditions of your agreement with the judge. Hopefully, jail time can be avoided; but in any case, if you successfully complete all requirements, you have a better chance to move on with your life.

Remember, though:

  • While your conviction may be sealed to future employers, it is still accessible to the Court, to the police, and to prosecuting attorneys
  • If you fail to uphold any of the conditions, you can lose your First Offender status, be resentenced, and receive the maximum sentence for the crime you committed

Hopefully, you abide by the terms of the agreement to complete your probation, and the probation officer will request an Order of Discharge from the judge.

Suppose you were previously convicted of a felony drug charge that may have been eligible for a First Offender’s status. In that case, you may still be able to be retroactively sentenced as a first-time offender, and have your conviction discharged. You would need to complete the probation program as provided under the First Offender law, and have your record modified to show no felony conviction.

Some drug charges are misdemeanors. While these are still crimes, they are less serious than a felony charge, which is what many people think of as a criminal charge. The only real example of a misdemeanor drug charge in Georgia is for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, or a first offense charge for possession of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, scales, or bongs. In Atlanta, and several other communities, possession of less than an ounce is decriminalized; which means it is still illegal, but there is no arrest, and no prosecution. In Georgia, however, a misdemeanor is still a criminal charge that may include substantial penalties.

Felony drug charges are more serious: and, in fact, most drug possession charges in Georgia are considered felonies with punishments that can include thousands of dollars in fines, and years in prison. Moreover, you could lose driving privileges, make it more difficult to find employment, and you will be restricted from owning or possessing a firearm.

Whether a misdemeanor or a felony drug charge, it can cost you time, money, freedom, and future opportunities. If you have been arrested, and charged, let attorney Michael Fulcher help protect your rights.

Don’t talk to the police until you talk to us

If you are facing a drug charge, you feel like you’re facing an uncertain future. We provide the steady hand, and clear strategic thinking you need following an arrest. Let our trial-tested drug crimes defense lawyer use his experience, and insight to positively impact your case, and get you the best possible results. For a free, and confidential consultation, and to discuss your immediate needs, contact us online or call us at (706) 438-1555.

AMAZING WORK

“Mr. Fulcher has been tremendously helpful with my case. Since hiring him he has consistently returned my calls as quickly as he can. We discussed an ideal outcome, and I set about doing exactly as he said. Following his advice we were able to get a very favorable outcome. He is always quick to answer any questions, and has stayed very engaged with me throughout this ordeal. Michael provides excellent counsel, and I would recommend him to anyone!”

— TOM

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