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The difference between drug possession and trafficking in Georgia

| Jul 29, 2020 | Drug Offenses |

Georgia has strict drug laws with harsh penalties. All but the most minor of marijuana possession charges count as felonies. Whether you face charges with possession or trafficking (illegal sales of the drugs) largely depends upon the amount you have at the time of your arrest.

Georgia and the federal government divide different types of drugs by classes called schedules. Schedule I drugs are the most serious, as the government considers them dangerous and without a medical purpose. Schedule V drugs are the least serious, with a low potential for abuse and accepted medical use.

Penalties for possession

When it comes to possession, the amount on you, combined with the type of drug, will determine the penalties you face. For example, the penalty for possessing certain Schedule I drugs starts at one to three years in prison and goes up to 15 years with a limit of 28 grams of the drug. If you have more than 28 grams, your charges could include trafficking laws. As mentioned above, the only possession charge that is not a felony is possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. The penalty for that misdemeanor is less than one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Penalties for trafficking

Drug trafficking laws are very similar to the possession laws, in that they depend upon the amount and type of drug at issue. For example, if the police accuse you of having 28 grams of cocaine or more, you will be charged with trafficking. If the amount falls between 28 grams and 200 grams, you will face a mandatory minimum of ten years and a fine of $200,000. The penalties go up from there based on the amount.

Although the prison sentences are laid out as mandatory minimums, the law does allow the judge some discretion to lower those penalties based on a number of factors. In addition, the district attorney may offer lowered sentences based on cooperation in identifying other criminals or based on a plea agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant.

Facing drug charges in Georgia is a serious business. The best thing you can do to understand the charges you face is to find a lawyer experienced in handling drug charges.