A Comprehensive Guide to Georgia Drug Trafficking Laws
Georgia drug trafficking laws regulate the manufacture, distribution, delivery, and sale of controlled substances. This guide covers the basics of these laws and the penalties if someone violates them.
What Are Georgia Drug Trafficking Laws?
If you live in the state of Georgia, you are probably familiar with many of the controlled substance regulations, but if you are visiting or passing through, you should have a basic understanding of the Georgia drug trafficking laws. Many Georgia drug trafficking cases originate on the highways. Because of this, many counties have special units dedicated to stopping drug trafficking on the roadways.
Of all drug charges, trafficking is often considered the worst, a conviction of which carries significant prison time, parole, and huge fines. A drug crimes attorney can help explain your options and offer advocacy and representation when you have been charged with being involved in a drug operation.
Understanding Georgia Laws On Drug Trafficking
The Georgia laws on drug trafficking can seem overly complicated, as the penalties for being caught trafficking vary not only on the type of drug but also on the amount and whether you have priors.
You can also be charged with trafficking if you bring a large enough amount of a controlled substance from another country or state. There are several factors involved. The first element of trafficking involves whether you:
- Manufactured; or
The second element involves possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or distributing a certain amount of a drug, which varies between the controlled substances.
Under the law, there are two types of possession. Actual possession means that an individual has an illegal substance on them, in their proximity or that he or she has direct control over the drugs.
On the other hand, constructive possession means the individual has the illegal substances in an area where they have dominion or control over them. So, even if an individual doesn’t have drugs on them, they can still face drug crime charges. Or, in other words, either actual or constructive possession will be enough to establish the possession needed to support a drug trafficking charge.
Controlled Substances Included in Drug Trafficking Laws In Georgia
To avoid accidentally committing a crime, it is wise to learn as much as you can about the drug trafficking laws in Georgia. They are found in the Title 16 Crimes and Offenses Chapter 13 Controlled Substances.
- Trafficking cocaine: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(a)
- Trafficking marijuana: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(c)
- Trafficking methamphetamine: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(e)
- Trafficking morphine, opium,or heroin: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(b)
For the first offense of Schedule I and Schedule II, which are considered the most dangerous drugs, you face between five and 30 years in prison, depending on the substance involved. For any offense after that, you can expect to receive between 10 and 40 years to life in prison.
According to Georgia drug trafficking laws, for the lesser offenses of trafficking Schedule III, Schedule IV, and Schedule V controlled substances, you may receive 1 to 10 years in prison. These are considered to be drugs with low or moderate potential for psychological or physical dependence, a lower chance of abuse, and accepted medical use.
Bear in mind that if you are charged with drug trafficking, you may face a mandatory minimum sentence. That means the State of Georgia applies a federal mandatory minimum sentence when it comes to drug crimes.
In these cases, the judge has limited discretion in imposing a sentence and often can’t sentence you to a lesser penalty than the mandatory minimum if you are convicted, despite the circumstances of the crime. The drug trafficking penalty in Georgia may even include a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years in prison along with a fine of 1 million dollars.
But, in some cases, a judge can depart from the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment if, for example, the person’s criminal conduct didn’t result in death or serious injury, or they didn’t possess a dangerous weapon or a firearm at the time when the crime was committed.
These laws can be confusing, so if you are charged with drug trafficking, consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney would be beneficial to your case.
What Amount Of Drugs Is Considered Trafficking?
With so many recent changes in various state regulations, many people wonder, “What amount of drugs is considered trafficking?”. The answer is that it varies because Georgia sets different limits for different categories of drugs, and they are not always the same for individual schedules.
For example, for cocaine, as little as 28 grams or a mixture that is at least ten percent cocaine can result in serious consequences. Heroin, morphine, and opium, however, can be harshly penalized for a mere four grams. The most strict penalties for trafficking marijuana, on the other hand, are measured in pounds.
There Are a Variety of Georgia Marijuana Law Penalties
Although all trafficking charges are somewhat dependent on the amount involved, according to the Georgia marijuana law, the amounts that result in significant penalties are much larger than other drugs. However, the quantity of marijuana being trafficked impacts the penalties, and even affects parole guidelines.
Depending on the amount of marijuana involved, a conviction may result in a prison sentence with the term of imprisonment increasing beyond the mandatory minimum sentence with the quantity being moved.
Drug trafficking charges are serious in Georgia and are nearly always prosecuted as a felony offense. If you are facing drug trafficking charges, a felony lawyer is a wise choice to ensure you receive no more than the mandatory minimum sentences in sentencing court or your case is dismissed. However, for small amounts of marijuana, or if your trafficking case is reduced to possession, you may be able to get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
Illegal Drugs Law Facts
Obtaining legal advice regarding the most current illegal drugs law can potentially save you money and trouble. Therefore, you should know what the various categories are and the penalties for each.
Cocaine Trafficking Penalties
If you are charged with trafficking cocaine, that is not merely a slap on the wrist. The amount of cocaine chosen as the dividing line between possession and trafficking is 28 grams. If you are convicted of trafficking an amount of cocaine between 28 and 200 grams, the sentence can be ten to thirty years in the state penitentiary and a fine of $200,000. For 200 to 400 grams, the sentence is 15 to 30 years with a fine of $300,000. If you are convicted of 400 grams or more, you face a prison sentence of 25 to 30 years and a $1,000,000 fine.
Heroin, Morphine, and Opium Trafficking Penalties
The heroine has probably the most unforgiving sentencing scheme. It is a Schedule I drug, considered the most dangerous with no medicinal value. However, if you are convicted of trafficking between 4 and 14 grams of heroin, morphine, and opium, the sentence is five to thirty years in prison with an associated fine of $50,000. For 14 to 28 grams, you can receive a sentence of ten years and a fine of $100,000. If you are convicted of trafficking 28 grams or more, you face a sentence of 25 to 30 years and a $500,000 fine.
Marijuana Trafficking Penalties
If you are convicted of trafficking marijuana, you may receive a sentence of five years and a fine of $100,000 for 10 to 2,000 pounds. For 2,000 to 10,000 pounds, you can be sentenced to seven to thirty years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If you are convicted of moving 10,000 pounds or more, you face a sentence of at least fifteen years and a fine of million dollars ($1,000,000).
Methamphetamine Trafficking Penalties
Trafficking methamphetamine can also have serious consequences and penalties. The difference between possession or selling methamphetamine from trafficking methamphetamine is the amount of drugs. It’s a Schedule II drug, and 28 grams was chosen as the threshold that can result in grave consequences. If you are convicted of trafficking methamphetamine between 28 and 200 grams, the sentence can be ten to thirty years in the state penitentiary and a fine of $200,000. For 200 to 400 grams, the sentence is a minimum of 15 years with a fine of $300,000. If you are convicted of 400 grams or more, you face a minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $1,000,000 fine.
Hire a Georgia Lawyer to Improve the Outcome of Your Drug Trafficking Case
Under Georgia’s drug trafficking laws, you face a significant possibility of lengthy prison time if you are caught with a large enough amount of a controlled substance that you intend to distribute. To avoid the most serious penalties, hiring an experienced legal representative may be critical when you face a serious felony charge.
By removing the most serious charges, you may be able to avoid the harshest sentences. For example, if your charge of trafficking can be negotiated to a charge of drug possession, it may drop from a felony to a misdemeanor. According to Georgia law, selling drugs or trafficking a controlled substance can result in expensive drug charges that require substantial assistance. Contact The Waltman Firm to schedule a consultation today!