Have you Been Charged with Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute?
Georgia laws punish drug crimes heavily, especially cocaine. Possession, sale, manufacturing, and trafficking cocaine are all crimes in Georgia, and each has their specific penalties. It is important to have a Lawyer that knows the differences between each offense and how to successfully defend against them. The Office of Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Cocaine Lawyers are here to help and defend against any cocaine charge that you have. A charge is not the same as a conviction so call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Cocaine is part of the Schedule II drug in Georgia, which is included in the same category as methamphetamine, crack cocaine, morphine, opium, and methadone. Possession of cocaine with intent to distribute is a separate crime from merely possessing cocaine. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30(b) states, “It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, sell, or possess with intent to distribute any controlled substance.” However if found with greater than twenty-eight ounces of cocaine, the crime will be elevated to trafficking.
What Has to be Proven
To be guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is unlawful for any person to possess a controlled substance in Georgia and therefore, the State must show that the accused possessed cocaine. As discussed earlier, the possession can be actual or constructive. If someone is not in actual possession, then a person who knowingly has both the power and the intention at a given time to exercise dominion or control over the cocaine will be deemed to be in constructive possession of it. To prove constructive possession, the State must establish a link between the suspect and the cocaine that goes beyond mere spatial proximity.
Penalty for a Conviction in Georgia
The penalty for being charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute is a prison term of five to thirty years and is classified as a felony. However, a second or subsequent offense will face a penalty of prison for ten to forty years or possibly life in prison. O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(d). The consequences for being convicted of a felony can be detrimental. It can cause difficulty in obtaining a job or getting credit in the future.
However, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school grounds, a park, housing project, or in a drug-free zone has it is own consequences. In any of those situations, the penalty will be a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison and/or a fine up to $20,000 for the first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the penalty increases to a minimum of five years in prison but no more than forty years and/or a fine up to $40,000.
Alternatively, Georgia allows for conditional releases or diversion programs for people facing their first criminal prosecution. A conditional release is a program similar to probation where you have conditions set by a judge that you must satisfy for the charges to be dropped. Judges are more likely to order a conditional release it is the first drug offense for the accused, and it is a relatively minor case. In these cases, the court will defer the case proceedings against a suspect and put them on probation for up to five years. The conditions could include requiring the accused to undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program or medical treatment. The court proceedings will be dismissed if all the conditions are completed successfully. O.C.G.A. §§ 16-13-2(a)(c).
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.
Defenses to Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute
Lack of intent: Without evidence that there was intent to distribute the cocaine, then you cannot be guilty of possession with intent to distribute. Proof that you were going to use the cocaine for personal consumption or that you have never distributed before could help bolster your case.
The police used an illegal stop: One defense available to you that your Lawyer can investigate is whether the police conducted an illegal, stop, detention, or search when they discovered the cocaine. Police officers must have a Constitutional basis for both stopping you and searching you. If the stop is found to be unconstitutional, then anything found as a result of the search will be suppressed. If that occurs, your case will be dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
Innocence: Witness testimony or an alibi can be used to help prove your innocence. Any evidence like that can assist in proving your innocence so contact one of our Lawyers today to help with your case.
It was a private resident not at a housing project or park: If the location was at a private residence and no one under the age of 17 was present, then your Attorney could use evidence to help get your sentence reduced or obtain a lesser charge.
The amount was not enough to distribute: Courts have found that if the amount seized was of small amount; then, that could lead to the presumption that the cocaine was not going to be used for distribution but instead; for personal use. Although there is no bright-line rule for what sum amounts to distribution, the Court decides on a case-by-case basis, and our Cocaine Attorneys could use this defense to try and get your charge lowered to possession of cocaine.
What are not Defenses
I didn't know it was cocaine: The Court does not accept a lack of knowledge as an argument if you should have known the drug was cocaine but chose to remain uninformed. `
Concerning with intent to distribute on school grounds, whether or not the school was in session will not be a defense. Also, even if the school property was being used for an event that was not school related at the time, it is still not a defense. Lastly, a crime was still committed even if the offense took place on a school vehicle and not at the school. Therefore, none of those defenses would be sufficient.
Georgia Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute Lawyers will help you understand your options and will assist you with your case. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our Georgia Cocaine Attorneys. Our Attorneys are dedicated to being accessible to their clients—days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on their behalf. Your Attorney will make sure you understand all your options and the good and bad of each. Every possession of cocaine case is unique, and our Lawyers 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. Your future and ability to drive are at stake; do not sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.