Drug possession laws in Walton County, Georgia
Whether here in Georgia or in any other state, possession is the most common drug charge. Conviction for even a small amount of an illegally obtained or possessed prescription drug or controlled substance can carry severe penalties. What those penalties are depends on both the type of drug in your possession and the quantity. It may also depend on whether it is deemed to be for personal use (for instance, a single joint) or the court sees it as intent to distribute, such as when there’s a larger amount of the drug and paraphernalia including items like multiple baggies or scales.
Drugs are classified by type and potential for abuse called “schedules.” There are five drug schedules that were determined by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) through the Controlled Substances Act. Specifically, determination as to “which schedule a drug or other substance should be paced, or whether a substance should be decontrolled or rescheduled” is based on:
- Actual or relative potential for abuse
- Scientific evidence of the drug’s effect, if known
- Current scientific knowledge about the drug
- Its history and pattern of abuse
- The scope, duration, and significance of the abuse
- Whether there is a risk to public health
- It’s psychological or physiological dependence liability
- Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of an already controlled substance; in other words, a chemical that is commonly used in manufacturing another controlled substance
Georgia outlines the regulations and penalties for drug charges through Title 16 and Offenses Chapter 13.
Schedule I and Schedule II drugs
Drugs in these categories include those most likely to be abused and have no or little accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs are those considered to be the most dangerous, addictive, or likely to be abused. The most common Schedule I Drugs in Georgia include heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy or molly), and psilocybin (mushrooms). Even though it has been legalized for recreational use in 18 states and the District of Columbia, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law and is illegal in Georgia. The state does permit authorized use of medical marijuana oil that has no more than 5% THC.
Schedule II drugs are those that still have a high risk of dependency and abuse but also have some accepted medical uses. Codeine, morphine, methadone, methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and oxycodone, all fit into this category.
Schedule III and Schedule IV drugs
Drugs in these schedules all have an accepted medical use and are considered to be anywhere from moderate to low probability of misuse. Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine.
Schedule IV drugs have an even lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, such as Valium, Xanax, and Ambien. The last category is Schedule V, which includes cough medicines with less than 200 milligrams of codeine per dose.
All scheduled drugs that have a legitimate and accepted medical use are only legal with a prescription, and only for the person for whom the prescription is intended. Any other use or possession is deemed unlawful.
Drug possession laws in Georgia
Most drug possession charges in Morgan County, Georgia are felonies, the sole exception being arrest for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, which usually amounts to a misdemeanor. Under Georgia law, there are two different types of possession: actual and constructive.
Actual possession means that the illegal substance is found on your person: in your pocket, purse, backpack, or anywhere on your person. Constructive possession is when a drug is found in your car, your residence, or your office. If you knew it was there and you had both the power and intention to control those drugs, then you can be charged with constructive possession.
A third possible charge is for minor (or juvenile) possession. In Georgia, a juvenile is an individual who is under the age of 17. If charged for drug possession the young person appears in juvenile court. In many cases, kids who are found guilty of a drug possession offense can receive alternatives to detention, such as probation, counseling, alternatives to juvenile detention, such as probation, community service, counseling, and suspension of a driver’s license or, in the case of someone under 18, delaying the ability to obtain a license.
Probation for juveniles is different from that for adult offenders. Any violation of probation can reset the clock and cause the addition of a year of probation or other more conditions.
Overall, drug possession charges and potential penalties depend on the type and amount of the drug. Prior convictions for drug crimes or any other felony may increase the penalties you would face. The most common drugs for which people may face possession charges include:
- Cocaine possession: Cocaine is a Schedule II drug. Having less than 28 grams is considered possession, while more than that is considered trafficking. Possession is still a felony with penalties of up to 15 years for a first offense. A trafficking amount has a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison.
- Heroin possession: Heroin is a Schedule I drug and being charged with any amount is a felony. However, because it is considered one of the most dangerous street drugs, any amount over just four grams (less than a teaspoon) and up to 14 grams becomes a trafficking charge that comes with a mandatory minimum five year prison sentence.
- Methamphetamine possession: Meth is a Schedule II drug which has only very few legitimate and highly regulated medical uses in the treatment of obesity and ADHD, by prescription only. You can be charged with unlawful possession when found with less than 28 grams. Any amount over that is considered trafficking with a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in prison.
- Marijuana possession: Possession of any illegal drug, whether Schedule I or Schedule IV, is a felony. The one exception to that rule in Georgia is possession of marijuana, where having less than one ounce is a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 12 months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense. Possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana is considered trafficking and carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years in prison.