Skilled Drug Possession Lawyer in Morgan County, Georgia

Man being arrested holding a bag of pills- Drug possession lawyer

Just how serious are drug possession charges in Georgia? Conviction for possession can bring steep fines and a lengthy prison sentence. Even having less than an ounce of marijuana and some rolling papers or scales can amount to a felony charge. That’s why if you are facing serious drug possession or drug trafficking charges in or around Morgan County, Georgia, you need serious legal advocacy.

We know that if you have been arrested for drug possession, you’re worried about your future and your freedom. Tell us your side of the story and we will listen. Talk to us and we will let you know what your rights are and review and discuss your options. Most importantly, bring us your issue and we will help find the best possible solution. If you are in trouble for any Georgia drug possession charge, call Michael Fulcher Law immediately at (706) 438-1555 to make sure your rights are protected.

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.

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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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The exclusive focus at Michael Fulcher Law is the relentless pursuit of the rights of our clients. As a former prosecutor, Michael Fulcher knows what the stakes are and how important it is to have a passionate advocate on your side. What’s more, we are with you through each step of your case—with the ultimate goal of getting the charges against you reduced or dismissed if possible. Your first step is to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your needs and start building a solid defense. To set up a time to talk, contact us online or give us a call at (706) 438-1555.

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about drug possession charges in Georgia.

While each case is different, these are the concerns that clients often have. These answers can’t replace the all-important consultation you have set up with us, but it should answer some of the questions you may have.

Perhaps the most critical factor is beating a drug possession charge is to get the best possible legal representation. Look for a drug possession lawyer who has experience with cases like yours, and who knows the local laws, and has worked in the courts in your jurisdiction. That’s important, because that’s the attorney who has insights into the prosecutors, and judges who will most likely be on your case. At the same time, make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney, and trust that your case will be given the attention it deserves, and needs. Get representation as soon as possible—preferably as soon as you post bail. Do not wait until an indictment is handed down.

After looking at the facts of your case, we can determine the best course of action. For instance:

  • Were your Fourth Amendment rights violated: Did the police commit illegal search, and seizure? Were you questioned without being allowed to see a lawyer or not given your Miranda rights?
  • Did entrapment play a role: Were you induced into taking a drug into your possession by an informant or the police?
  • Was there an abuse of power: Was there an excessive use of force or other intimidating tactic used at the time of your arrest, or did you feel coerced in any way?
  • Is there reasonable doubt: Is there a good reason to believe that you really didn’t know that the drugs were in your home or car, and that they may have been put or left there by someone else?
  • Were the drugs actually yours: Were they found in someone else’s vehicle or residence?
  • Did you have a lawful medical reason for having the drug: Did your physician prescribe a Schedule II, Schedule III or Schedule IV drug for your legal, and legitimate use?
  • Was the chain of custody broken: Was the drug evidence mishandled by the police or are they actually missing?

We examine every possible avenue in creating a defense on your behalf to help you “beat a drug possession charge”, and get you the justice you deserve.

Any arrest is bound to be stressful. Because penalties for Georgia drug possession, and drug trafficking law are so severe, it’s imperative to:

  • Stay calm: don’t yell or get hysterical, and definitely don’t become violent
  • Be respectful: While it’s true that you’re angry, and possibly feeling defiant, being uncooperative, and mouthing off is not going to help your situation. That doesn’t mean you have to volunteer any information to the police beyond your name, and produce your identification, but that’s it.
  • Be smart: Do not lie to, attempt to bribe, or otherwise try to convince the police to release you.
  • Request legal counsel: It’s your right, and it’s in your best interest. Don’t discuss anything with the police without your lawyer being present.

The difference between personal use, and trafficking (or possession with intent to distribute) is largely a matter of amount. Say you had an ounce, and a half of marijuana: that may seem like something you would use over a medium period of time. Unfortunately, the threshold for personal use is less than an ounce, and everything over that is considered enough to sell or distribute. At the same time, if you have less than an ounce in your possession but were also nabbed with scales, multiple baggies, or a lot of cash, you are likely to be facing an intent to distribute felony charge.

There are a number of factors that go into determining Georgia felony drug possession jail or prison sentences, fines, or other penalties.

  • For possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II, and non-narcotic drugs: Imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 15 years for a first offense, depending on the amount. A third or subsequent offense doubles that amount. (Schedule II narcotics include morphine, opium, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone, among others. Schedule II non-narcotic drugs include stimulants such as amphetamine or methamphetamine, and Ritalin, as well as amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.)
  • For unlawful possession of non-narcotic Schedule III, Schedule IV or Schedule V drug: A sentence of not less than one year nor more than five years for a first offense. Upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense, the sentence becomes not less than one year nor more than ten years.

Although the penalties that the court can impose are severe, there are punishments that are apart from those handed down by a judge. Convictions for drug possession can lead to strict conditions of probation for years, suspension of driving privileges, affect your ability to get a job, obtain a loan, or get a firearms license. It frequently leads to problems with family, and friends. Landlords typically run background checks, and are less than likely to want to rent to someone with a felony record., and if you are seeking child custody, a drug possession conviction may very well be held against you.

In criminal trial cases, the arraignment is the first time you will appear in court to address your charges. At the arraignment hearing, the judge will read the charges against you. You will be apprised of your rights, and your plea will be entered: you plead either guilty or not guilty. If you do not enter a plea, the court automatically enters a plea of not guilty. If you plead not guilty, your drug possession lawyer can ask for all evidence in your case, and start building a defense on your behalf.

Yes, possession of paraphernalia is a crime in Georgia—even if you did not have drugs in your possession. Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so if you are caught with certain items you can be charged under Georgia § 16-13-32.2: Possession, and Use of Drug-Related Objects. These include “any object or materials of any kind for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body marijuana or a controlled substance.”

Drug paraphernalia includes, among other things:

  • Scales
  • Syringes
  • Rolling papers
  • Roach clips
  • Bongs or Pipes
  • Cards or other objects with drug residue
  • A quantity of plastic “baggies”
  • Rolling papers
  • Even tin foil,

A violation of this code is a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.

There are no guarantees, but in some cases you may be eligible for a diversion, or alternative sentence, under Georgia’s First Offender Act. It is not automatically offered; it is requested by your drug possession attorney. It is only available if, indeed, it is your first offense, and you have never been convicted of a felony in Georgia or any other U.S. state.

Under this act, you still receive a sentence, and may still have to serve some jail time, but if you satisfactorily complete all the terms of your probation, you will no longer have a conviction, the Court Clerk will enter an Order of Discharge, and your records will be sealed. Any violation on any term of the conditions set by the Court can nullify your first offender status: moreover, you will be convicted of your drug possession charge, and could be resentenced up to the maximum penalties.

Some people convicted of a drug-related felony may have the option of drug court. For example, Morgan County is served by the Alcovy Judicial Circuit drug court, and reflects a partnership between “judicial, district attorney, law enforcement, drug court office, treatment providers, defense bar, and felony probation representatives.” The stated mission of this program is to ” enhance public safety by reducing crime, and recidivism while maximizing the productivity, and health of community through a more efficient allocation of available resources, which establishes a comprehensive system of treatment, incentives, and sanctions for eligible drug dependent offenders.”

In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Be 17 years of age or older
  • Be facing felony drug charges
  • Be facing a probation period of 18 to 24 months
  • Have a substance-abuse problem
  • Be a legal resident of the United States

You are ineligible if you live with a substance abuser, have been charged with sales or manufacturing narcotics, have a mental or physical disability that would not allow you to successfully complete the program, are in a medical pain management program, or have a history of violent crime or sex offenses.

Components of the program include integrating drug treatment services with justice system case processing, providing drug/substance abuse rehabilitation programs, monitoring abstinence of substance abuse through random drug testing, ensuring participants’ ongoing compliance through a coordinated strategy. By forging partnerships, and “using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution, and defense counsel promote public safety” drug courts also strive to “protect participants’ due process rights.”

Entry into the program is voluntary, and at the sole discretion of the program administrators, and “charges will be dismissed or a reduced sentence will be entered upon successful completion of the program.”

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“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!”

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