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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Drug Offenses

Possession of Marijuana is the most common misdemeanor drug offense. The fight to legalize marijuana has not made much progress in Georgia. The Georgia medical-marijuana bill died this year despite votes favoring the move in both houses. Possession of less than one ounce of pot/weed/marijuana etc. is still a crime, and it is one that is aggressively prosecuted. Jail recommendations are common for repeat offenders, and in rural areas of Georgia jail time is even common for first offenders. Criminal convictions can cause big problems with immigration, employment, lending and public benefits. If you travel to foreign countries, especially Canada, misdemeanor drug convictions can cause huge problems.

On top of the jail time, there can be up to $1,000 in fines. This fine is subject to court costs and surcharges. On marijuana cases there is an additional fifty percent surcharge. This means that whatever fine the court sets, you will end up paying almost double that amount. If you are convicted, your driver’s license will also be suspended for 180 days. You will have to complete DUI School and pay a $200 reinstatement fee to get your license back.

The good news is that we can resolve most cases with no conviction and no criminal record. Pre-trial Diversion programs are now common. These programs allow you to complete certain requirements in a specified time period and once completed, the charges will be dismissed and eligible for expungement from your record.  Even for Felony possession of marijuana, pre-trial diversion is now available in most metro-Atlanta counties.  “Drug courts” are also popular because research has shown that they are highly effective at combating repeat arrests. Drug courts typically require an intensive period of judicially supervised drug abuse counseling. The reward for participation is a dismissed charge and expungement of the record. There are also special “first offender” provisions of the Georgia Code that keep criminal convictions off your record. Under the Georgia First Offender Act, a defendant, at the time of entering a plea, can request that the judge sentence the defendant to First Offender Georgia treatment. If the judge agrees, then after the defendant completes the terms and conditions of the sentence, the defendant is deemed to not have a criminal conviction.

We aggressively fight marijuana possession cases. To get a conviction, the Government must prove that you had “knowledge” and “control” of the marijuana. It is not enough to show that you were just nearby contraband. The law specifically states that “mere special proximity to contraband” is not enough for a conviction. Additionally, the Government must prove that the seizure of the drugs was legal. Motions to Dismiss for illegal searches and seizures are regularly filed and litigated in drug possession cases.

Georgia NORML