Georgia has relatively strict drug laws. The state has employed a variety of statutes to prohibit the possession, sale, distribution and trafficking of numerous substances. There is no lawful way to possess, manufacture or distribute certain drugs in Georgia. There are also thousands of prescription drugs subject to controlled substances rules. Possession of controlled substances is only legal if someone has a medical recommendation and obtains the substance from a licensed provider. People violate drug statutes in Georgia every day, and a small percentage of those individuals end up arrested by the police.
Someone arrested while unlawfully in possession of drugs will likely end up charged with a criminal offense. Most of the time, accusations of drug possession will lead to simple possession charges. However, sometimes the state accuses someone of possession with intent. The accused might face worse charges and more serious penalties as a result of these elevated accusations.
What is possession with intent?
Unlike standard possession, which involves someone owning or having control over drugs currently subject to restrictions under Georgia state law, possession with intent means that someone planned to distribute those drugs to others. The state does not have to catch someone in the act to charge them for alleged involvement in drug trafficking. Those with a large amount of drugs or a variety of different drugs in their possession at the time of their arrest might face possession with intent charges.
What are the possible penalties?
Some standard possession charges are misdemeanor offenses, and some of them are felony charges. The schedule and the amount of the substances discovered by police will determine whether the state brings felony or misdemeanor possession charges against a specific defendant. If the substances are Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, the judge hearing the case can sentence someone who has been convicted to between five and 30 years in prison. If someone faces a second possession with intent charge, the possible jail time increases to between 10 and 40 years. Additionally, if someone gets arrested within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone, like a school, the penalties for a first offense could include up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
Although someone arrested on allegations of a drug offense may feel as though they have few options, mounting a criminal defense is often a realistic goal. Reviewing the state’s evidence with the assistance of an attorney can be a good starting point for those aspiring to defend against Georgia drug charges.