What Is Drug Trafficking Under Georgia Law?
As in other U.S. states, drug crimes in Georgia are taken very seriously, especially trafficking. Drug trafficking involves manufacturing, selling, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Penalties for this serious felony offense depend on the schedule the drug falls under and the quantity of drugs involved. However, you can expect a prison sentence of at least five years and, often, a hefty fine.
Having a basic understanding of the GA drug trafficking laws is important, but it’s especially necessary if you are facing drug trafficking charges. In this piece, we’ll dive into drug trafficking laws, potential defenses, and penalties, as well as your rights if you get arrested for drug trafficking.
If you are facing Georgia drug trafficking charges, even if that is your first offense, consider consulting an experienced drug lawyer in Atlanta. An experienced attorney from Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC, may be able to get the charges dropped or reduced. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Georgia’s Drug Trafficking Laws
Under Georgia drug trafficking laws, it’s illegal to manufacture, deliver, distribute, bring into the state, or sell any controlled substance.
GA drug trafficking laws can be found in Georgia Code § 16-13-30 and § 16-13-31. Any narcotics and drugs that are illegal or legal to possess only with a lawful prescription are considered controlled substances.
The Georgia Controlled Substances Act classifies controlled substances into schedules based on their potential for abuse and psychological or physical dependence.
Schedule I drugs are considered the most addictive and dangerous and include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Schedule II drugs, such as cocaine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine, are also considered dangerous, though some can be obtained with a prescription.
Schedule III drugs have an accepted medical use and a certain potential for abuse. They include controlled substances such as ketamine and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV controlled substances include Xanax and Valium, while Schedule V drugs include Lomotil and Parapectolin. Both Schedule IV and Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse and accepted medical use.
When Is a Drug Crime Considered Trafficking?
Simply having a drug in your possession is considered a lesser crime than drug trafficking. To be charged with drug trafficking, you have to deliver, manufacture, distribute, or possess a certain amount of a controlled substance.
The State of Georgia sets different limits for drug trafficking charges for different categories of drugs. While only 4 grams of heroin would be enough amount to qualify the offense as drug trafficking, the amount of 28 grams of cocaine can be a dividing line between simple drug possession and drug trafficking. When it comes to marijuana, a drug crime can be considered trafficking if it involves more than 10 pounds.
In general, a person can be charged with drug trafficking if they are caught in possession of a quantity of drugs that suggests sale rather than personal use. However, determining the critical quantity can be difficult because it can depend on the type of drug and its purity.
Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as tools used to produce drugs, can also be an indication of trafficking.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Georgia
Convictions and sentencings for drug charges can be complex because they depend on the type and quantity of drug, among other things. A person charged with drug trafficking of a Schedule I or II controlled substance will face much harsher penalties than one charged with trafficking Schedule III, IV, or V drugs.
Drug trafficking of a Schedule I or II drug can result in between five and 30 years in prison and a fine of up to a million dollars for a first offense. A mandatory minimum penalty can be at least five years and up to 25 years in prison—the larger the amount of drug in question, the longer the mandatory minimum sentences.
Drug trafficking of a Schedule III, IV, or V drug can result in spending between one and ten years in prison.
Defenses Against Drug Trafficking Charges
Individuals have several viable defenses when facing drug trafficking charges, including:
Unlawful search and seizure: Law enforcement officers sometimes violate the Fourth Amendment, which forbids the unlawful search and seizure of someone’s property. The evidence can be deemed inadmissible in court if they don’t obtain the proper warrant to search a person or their property.
Insufficient evidence: Your attorney can argue that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to prove the elements of drug trafficking beyond a reasonable doubt.
Illegal wiretapping or surveillance: You can challenge the legality of any wiretapping, surveillance, or other electronic monitoring methods used by law enforcement to obtain the evidence against you.
Your Rights if Arrested for Drug Trafficking
If you find yourself arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, the most important thing to understand is that you have the right to remain silent and request a lawyer.
Trying to explain and defend yourself is a natural reaction to accusations, especially ones with serious ramifications, but you’ll likely end up doing more harm than good. Therefore, always inform the arresting or interviewing officer that you won’t talk unless your attorney is present.
More importantly, you have the right to retain an attorney. Trafficking is a serious felony charge with life-changing consequences. Ensuring you have skilled and knowledgeable legal representation is essential for the best possible result.
Free Case Evaluation with Farnsworth & Murphy LLC
If you are facing a drug trafficking charge, your freedom and whole future are in jeopardy. Not having an experienced lawyer by your side can mean spending the next 25 years of your life in prison.
Award-winning criminal defense attorneys at Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC, have the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to fight your charges.
When we handle your drug trafficking case, you can rest assured we will do everything we can to achieve the best possible result. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!