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Drug possession in Georgia

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Drug possession charges in Georgia need to be treated seriously because they are serious matters of concern. In the event of a conviction, an individual accused of possession risks fines, jail time and the kinds of burdensome collateral consequences often inspired by the reality of having a criminal record. 

Georgia, like all states and the federal government too, categorizes controlled substances into schedules, which are like categories. These categories concern their potential for substance abuse and their accepted medical uses, with Schedule I drugs classified as the most dangerous, and Schedule V as the least. Possession of any illegal controlled substance in Georgia can lead to criminal charges – some are misdemeanors, and some are felonies, depending on the type and quantity of the drug at issue. 

Simple possession

Simple possession typically refers to possession of a small, “personal use” amount of a controlled substance. For most first-time offenders, possession of a small amount of relatively safe controlled substances is usually considered a misdemeanor, which can result in penalties including up to one year in jail, fines and possible probation. However, possession of harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine even in small amounts, is a felony in Georgia, which is a more serious charge than a misdemeanor. 

Possession with intent to distribute

If an individual possesses a larger quantity of drugs, or if there are other indicators of an intent to engage in sales – such as packaging materials or scales – charges can escalate to possession with intent to distribute. This is a felony charge and carries much stiffer penalties, including multiple years in prison, larger fines and more extensive probation periods. This intent to distribute is determined by the circumstances surrounding the arrest; not necessarily by any actual sale of drugs.

Constructive possession 

In Georgia, an individual doesn’t have to physically hold drugs to be charged with possession. Constructive possession means that drugs found in a place over which an individual has control (such as their car or house) can lead to possession charges. Proving constructive possession relies on demonstrating that the accused had both knowledge of the presence of the substance and the ability to control it.

A drug possession conviction in Georgia can result in long-lasting effects on a person’s life. It can hinder job prospects, educational opportunities and professional licensing. As such, it is generally wise to present a strong defense in the face of such allegations, instead of pleading guilty and hoping for lenience.