Collateral Consequences of Georgia Drug Possession Convictions
Georgia’s drug possession laws are harsh, with penalties that can include years in prison, even for just possessing more than one ounce of marijuana. Whether the substance or substances were intended for personal use or for sale and distribution will affect the severity of the charge, but a major factor is the type and amount of the controlled substance found in someone’s possession. And in Georgia, you don’t need to be carrying a drug to be charged; if it’s found in your home or your vehicle and it can be proved the drugs were under your control, you can be charged with possession. If you’re convicted of possessing drugs in the state, it’s important to understand the collateral consequences of having a drug conviction on your record.
Controlled substances in the United States are classified by schedules, with the most dangerous drugs in Schedules I (heroin, LSD, ecstasy) and II (cocaine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine). If you’re convicted of possessing a Schedule I or II drug in Georgia, you face felony charges and could spend from two to 15 years in prison for a first offense. Whether or not you serve any time, however, these convictions can negatively affect your life for years to come. For a first offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of six months; for a second offense, you will lose your driving privileges for a year. You may lose your job and have trouble finding another one. You could also find yourself without a home: if you’re convicted on a drug possession charge, you could be evicted from your apartment or a home in which you reside but are not the owner.
However, depending on the severity of the crime, first-time offenders may be able to participate in several programs for alternative sentencing. These programs could include pre-trial diversion or drug court programs that offer treatment rather than incarceration. They require an offender to meet certain requirements to have their charges dismissed.
First-time offenders may also seek a conditional discharge under O.C.G.A. § 16-13-2b, provided the drug offense is possession. The Georgia First Offender Act also enables some first-time offenders to avoid felony convictions for possession.
The overall complexity of these cases makes it essential to have strong representation from a qualified criminal defense attorney. If you face drug possession charges in Georgia, James D. Michael, P.C. offers skilled counsel. For a free consultation, call 404-857-4059 or contact us online today.