A drug conviction could result in the assessment of severe penalties including a lengthy prison sentence, years on probation and a hefty fine. The detrimental impact on your criminal history could go even further by hindering your ability to obtain gainful employment and forfeiting certain rights under state and federal law.

If you were recently charged with committing a drug-related crime, retaining the services of a dedicated legal advocate is crucial when trying to protect your rights. Discover the options available to you by calling and scheduling a risk-free consultation with a knowledgeable McDonough drug lawyer.

Controlled Substance Classifications

Under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, a controlled substance is defined by The Official Code of Georgia §16-13-21(4) as any drug, substance, or immediate precursor listed under O.C.G.A. §§ 16-13-25 through 29, or under Part 1308 of Title 21 of the Federal Code of Regulations. Typically, controlled substances are categorized into schedules, the determination of which is based on the drug’s medical benefit and the likelihood of abuse or dependency. The controlled substance schedules in this state are as follows:

  • Schedule I – Very dangerous and highly addictive with no medicinal use
  • Schedule II – High chance of abuse or addiction, but has some medical use
  • Schedule III – All have accepted medical uses but have addictive properties
  • Schedule IV – Pharmaceuticals with a low risk of addiction or abuse
  • Schedule V – Medications that pose the lowest risk of addiction or abuse

In addition to the above-listed schedule classifications, drugs considered to be controlled substances may also fall under a subcategory of substances known as “narcotics.” Under O.C.G.A. § 16-13-21(17), a narcotic is a drug that is indirectly or directly produced by extracting a substance of vegetative origin, independent chemical synthesis, or a combination of the two, such as opium or cocaine. Whether a crime involves a narcotic or some other type of controlled substance, those facing a drug-related criminal charge or conviction should consult a defense attorney in McDonough before appearing in court.

Drug-Related Criminal Offenses and Penalties in McDonough

In cases where an individual’s criminal activity involves one or more controlled substances, there are several offenses they could be charged with depending on the nature of the crime. Some of the more common types of drug-related crimes include the possession, manufacture, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery, or administration of a controlled substance, each of which is a punishable offense.

Penalties assessed for these crimes vary and depend on several factors, such as the type of drug, the schedule it is classified under, and the quantity of the controlled substance. For instance, the above-listed drug crimes are all punishable as felonies, regardless of which schedule classification the controlled substance involved falls under. The same conduct could be classified as “trafficking” if the drug quantities are high enough. The penalties for these types of offenses include imprisonment for anywhere from 1 to 40 years and/or a fine of anywhere from $5,000 to $1,000,000. A McDonough lawyer could help someone minimize these potential penalties by examining every possible defense along with any mitigation that may exist in a drug case.

Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

A drug offense can range from misdemeanor marijuana to trafficking. No matter the type or amount of a drug the defendant was alleged to have possessed, the defenses are typically the same. One of the most common defense strategies is alleging an illegal search and seizure. If the arresting officer did not have probable cause to search the defendant’s person or property and illegal drugs were found during this search, this evidence can be excluded from the case.

Additionally, if the officer searched a home without first obtaining a search warrant, then that is likely an unreasonable search. There are exceptions to these general rules, and a defendant may have more or less protections depending on where the search occurs. For instance, individuals have the most protection when they are inside their own home. These variables are why accused individuals should consult with an experienced McDonough attorney when facing drug charges.

Actual vs Constructive Possession

If no constitutional rights have been violated, then our team could look at whether the prosecution can prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the drugs. If the narcotics were found in one place or package and multiple people had access to the drugs, then the State may be unable to prove definitively who actually possessed the illegal substances.

Keeping Drug Offenses Off Your Criminal Record

Finally, there are numerous ways to keep a drug offense off someone’s record even if they are caught red-handed with the illegal substances. There are alternative resolution programs that essentially divert the drug offense out of the criminal system as long as the defendant completes the program. If one of these programs is not available, then an accused individual can use either conditional discharge or first offender to protect their criminal history. While these options have different technical applications, a skilled McDonough drug offense attorney knows when to use them, and the end result is a clean criminal history that will not hamper someone’s future.

Contact a McDonough Drug Attorney Today

When a person is charged and subsequently convicted of committing an offense with controlled substances, the consequences they face as a result can be devastating and have a long-lasting, harmful impact on their life. For those seeking to fight a drug crime charge or conviction, obtaining legal counsel could improve the chance of being acquitted or receiving a reduced sentence.

If you were recently charged or convicted of a crime involving a controlled substance, you have the right to legal counsel. To learn more about how our legal professionals could help you, reach out to discuss your case with a McDonough drug lawyer.

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Carl Chapman