First Time Drug Offenders in Georgia
Many of our clients are first time offenders. They may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time but are a generally good person. We have had many clients ask us if there are more lenient punishments for first-time offenders or if there are any “breaks”? Georgia does have some special sentencing provisions for first time offenders. The situations they apply to include:
- Minor crimes where a judge decides to implement the Georgia First Offender Sentencing Act; and
- For drug crimes where it was possession of marijuana less than an ounce, then the defendant can seek a conditional discharge
Georgia First Offender Act
The Georgia First Offender Act allows first-time offenders to avoid having a conviction on their record by completing specific conditions. Not every charge is eligible for first offender status. Anyone charged with a serious violent felony, serious sexual offense, DUI, or child pornography charges will not qualify for the first offender program.
The Georgia First Offender Program will include probation, fees, program completion, and possibly jail time.
If all of the conditions of the program are met, and the participant does not commit a new crime during the time they are in the program, then the charge will be sealed from your official criminal history.
However, getting into the Georgia First Offender Program is not automatic. You need a criminal defense attorney in Georgia to assist. Your attorney can inform the Court that you are willing to enter into the program and the prosecutor will receive whether you are eligible. Ultimately, the judge has the discretion to allow the accused to participate in the first offender program.
When a person is charged with possession of marijuana in an amount less than an ounce, they can seek for a conditional discharge. Conditional discharge is an alternative sentencing tool where the judge can dismiss a drug-related charge after completion of certain conditions. This process can only be used once and is only available to people who have never been convicted of possession of marijuana before. The terms generally consist of probation, drug screenings, fines, community service, and a risk reduction course. If all of the conditions are not complied with, then the court will revoke the conditional discharge status and proceed with the original charge.
While conditional discharge seems like a great option, it requires a significant commitment. The conditions are time intensive and require many sacrifices such as time and money. A failure to complete just one aspect will result in your status being revoked. That is why we urge people to never enter into a conditional discharge program without first consulting with a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney.
First Time Drug Offenders in Georgia Have Options
There are multiple options available to people who have been charged with a drug related crime as their first offense. Do not make the mistake of pleading guilty since it is your first offense. Speaking with one of our Georgia Drug Crime Lawyers will be critical in helping you understand the options that are available for your case. We have over 50 combined years of experience in assisting those charged with a drug-related crime.
Your best chance of getting enrolled in an alternative program is calling a criminal defense lawyer in Georgia immediately. It takes time to go through all the evidence in your case to find out which option you are eligible for. We also take the time to understand your goals and find which choice best meets your goals. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.