Because the state of Georgia is considered a “gateway” between the state of Florida and the entire East coast, law enforcement is well aware of the level of drugs flowing through the state. Consequently, drug offenses are taken very seriously in the state, even possession of marijuana. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, it is important that you also take the charges very seriously.
Despite the fact that a bill could be in works to change the laws regarding possession of marijuana in the state of Georgia, for now, if you have been charged with marijuana possession, you could be facing serious consequences for a conviction. Proposed bills have sought to change
Georgia’s law which considers possession of more than an ounce of marijuana a felony, with the potential of a ten-year jail sentence. If the bills went into effect, possession of marijuana for personal use would be charged as a misdemeanor, and less than one ounce could be considered a civil infraction. If you are currently facing charges of possession of marijuana, these proposed laws won’t help you—you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney by your side to help lessen the long-term repercussions to your future. Whether you are in Atlanta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, or anywhere in North Georgia, it is crucial that you speak to a knowledgeable Georgia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged. In the meantime, take your Miranda Rights seriously, and don’t speak to anyone, especially the police,until your attorney arrives.
Georgia Laws Concerning Possession of Marijuana
Even if you are not technically “holding” the marijuana, if the court finds you were “in control” of the drugs—that is, the drugs were within your reach and a reasonable person would believe you had knowledge of or access to the drugs—you could be charged with possession of marijuana. This means the marijuana could have been found in your glove box, under the seat of your car, or somewhere inside your home.
Georgia Laws for a First Offense of Marijuana Possession
If you are charged with a first-time, misdemeanor marijuana possession (less than one ounce), you may be eligible for a conditional discharge, or a diversion program. This means you will be sentenced to a specific term of probation, then once you have served that term, the charges of marijuana possession will be dropped, and possibly no longer reflected on your record. During your probation, you could face mandated drug counseling, classes, fines, community service work, and drug screens. Should you violate your probation, you could face the maximum first-time offender sentence, which is up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in prison.
Georgia Laws for a Second or Subsequent Marijuana Possession Offense
It is likely you will still be facing misdemeanor charges for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, even if it is your second or subsequent offense. While you would probably not be eligible for pre-trial, diversion or conditional discharge programs, you will still face up to $1,000 in fines, and up to a year in jail. Facing Georgia Charges of Possession of Marijuana?
Possession of More Than One Ounce of Marijuana
Serious felony charges could result if you are charged with possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. If you are convicted of the charges, you could face from one year to ten years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines.
Charged with Marijuana Possession in a Georgia School Zone
If you are found to be in possession of marijuana in a Georgia school zone, the penalties are much harsher. This is especially true if you are caught with enough marijuana to be charged with “possession with intent to distribute.” If you are convicted of possession of marijuana in aGeorgia school zone, you could face up to $20,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. For a second offense of possession of marijuana in a Georgia school zone, you could face at least five years in prison, with a maximum of 40 years, and up to $40,000 in fines.
How an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Knowing your rights and having a strong legal advocate in your corner from start to finish is a critical part of facing your marijuana possession charges. You need to help your attorney help you, which means not talking to the police until your attorney arrives, and carefully documenting every single detail of your arrest. Having an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney like Melanie Ellwanger on your side can greatly minimize the long-term consequences of your possession of marijuana charges. Melanie is a former prosecutor, and will fight hard on your behalf. For professional legal assistance, call Melanie Ellwanger at 404-803- 3105.