Have You Been Charged with Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession with Intent to Distribute of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School in Georgia?
Drugs and narcotics that are illegal or only legal to possess with a valid prescription are called controlled substances. These are classified into five schedules. If you or a loved one have been charged with Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School in Georgia, you need experienced representation. We have over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience and here to help you defend against any drug charges. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Georgia Law on Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School
O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4 reads as follows:
- It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance or marijuana in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any real property owned by or leased to any public or private elementary school, secondary school, or school board used for elementary or secondary education.
Georgia Case Law
In Pennington v. State, sufficient evidence was found to support a conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school. The facts showed that officers got a tip about Pennington's shed on his property. The shed was less than 100 feet from an elementary school. With Pennington's consent, the officers searched the shed and found the presence of equipment and ingredients for manufacturing methamphetamine. In addition, a strong odor of methamphetamine had permeated the shed. When Pennington tried to argue that there was a lack of evidence that he intended to distribute near a school based of an absence of digital scales or money, the Court concluded that the equipment and finding unused plastic baggies supported a finding that he intended to distribute. Therefore, he was convicted under O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4.
The Penalty for Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School in Georgia
A person convicted of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4 will be guilty of a felony. For a first conviction, the punishment will be a maximum prison term of 20 years or a fine of no more than $20,000.00, or both. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the penalty will be a prison term between five and forty years, a maximum fine of $40,000.00, or both. For a second conviction, a minimum of five years must be served and cannot be suspended.
Having a felony conviction on your record can also make it difficult to obtain housing, employment, or receive credit. However, all drug possession cases will result in a mandatory suspension of your driver's license. If this is the first offense, then the suspension will last for a minimum of six months. If this is the second offense, the penalty is one-year suspension and a third or subsequent offense results in a minimum two-year suspension.
Georgia Defenses to Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School
The police failed to conduct a legal search: One defense available to you that your Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School Lawyer in Georgia can investigate is whether the police conducted an illegal stop, detention, or search when they discovered the drugs. Police officers must have a Constitutional basis for both stopping you and searching your property. If the stop is found to be unconstitutional, then anything found as a result of the search will be suppressed. If that happens, your case can be dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
The transaction occurred outside of a 1,000-foot radius from any park or housing project: It is a required element of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4 that the transaction occurs within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. Evidence that the location was outside of 1,000 feet would be greatly beneficial for your case. While it may prove that you did violate this law, you could still be charged with another drug crime.
Lack of evidence supporting possession with intent to distribute: To support a conviction for possession of controlled substances, marijuana, or counterfeit substances with intent to distribute, the state must prove more than just mere possession of the drug. A lack of evidence demonstrating that the substance was going to be distributed will result in the charges being dropped. However, the accused can still be charged with possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, or a counterfeit substance.
The transaction occurred in a private residence with no one under 17 years of age present: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4(g) provides an affirmative defense to this charge. If the transaction occurred in a private residence, no person under 17 was present, and the prohibited conduct was not carried on for the purpose of financial gain, then that is an affirmative defense to the charge of Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School. However, this defense will not present itself. You need an attorney experienced in criminal defense to help prove that this applies to your case.
The amount was not enough to distribute: Some courts in Georgia have found that if the amount seized was a small amount; then, that could lead to the presumption that the substance was not going to be used for distribution but instead; for personal use. While there is no set standard for what sum amounts to distribution, the Court decides on a case-by-case basis. Our Georgia Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School Lawyers know how to make the law work in your favor and demonstrate that no distribution of marijuana or counterfeit substances was occurring.
Innocence: Witness testimony or an alibi can be used to help prove your innocence. If you have any of these things, contact one of our Georgia Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School Attorneys so they can help you try to get the charges dropped.
What are not Defenses
I had a valid prescription for the controlled substance: A person can still be convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute even if they had a valid prescription for it. C.P.R. v. Henry County Bd. Of Education, 329 Ga. App. 57, (2014).
It belongs to someone else: Even if the substance does not directly belong to you, if caught in possession of it, you could be found guilty.
School was not in session at the time of the offense: According to O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4(d), it is not a defense if school was not in session.
The school was being used for other purposes at the time of the offense: Even if the school was being used for another purpose, a crime has still occurred.
The offense took place on a school vehicle and not at a school: The statute details that even if the crime occurred on a school vehicle, it would still constitute an offense under this law.
The equipment belongs to someone else: Even if the manufacturing equipment does not directly belong to you but is on your property, you could be found guilty. The Court assumes the owner of the house exercises dominion and control over the residence, and therefore, they could still be convicted of manufacturing marijuana or counterfeit substances even if they did not personally commit the crime.
Our Georgia Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School Lawyers will help you understand your options and will assist you with your case. To schedule a free consultation with Attorney Richard Lawson, Kimberly Berry or their team of Georgia Manufacturing, Distributing, Dispensing or Possession of Controlled Substances in or Near Public or Private School Attorneys contact our offices today. Our Attorneys are dedicated to being accessible to their clients—days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on their behalf. Every drug possession case is unique, and our Attorneys will work with you to formulate the best possible defense for your situation. They will advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Contact us today for your free case evaluation. Your future and ability to drive are at stake; do not sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.