Have you Been Charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in Georgia?
In Georgia, drug crimes are very complex and have subtle differences between the different degrees. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Marijuana Attorneys are experts in this field and can help you understand exactly what you are being charged with and how to fight it. A conviction for drugs can have a severe impact on not just you, but your family as well. Getting help from the very beginning is crucial. Do not wait to call and schedule your free consultation.
Possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute is a separate crime from merely possessing marijuana. 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.” Further, O.C.G.A § 16-13-1 states that controlled substances include marijuana.
In the case of Davis v. State, the Court found the suspect guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. 285 Ga. App. 460, (2007). In this case, an undercover officer arranged to buy 10 pounds of marijuana from the suspect. He met the suspect in her car where he showed her the money and then proceeded to another location where the suspect showed the officer a sample of the marijuana. She stated that the rest of the marijuana was in a van that had followed them. The undercover officer called off the sale and police then stopped the van and found 10 pounds of marijuana in the car. During the trial, the suspect argued that she could only be sentenced for one ounce of marijuana since the rest of it was in the van. However, the Court found that she had actual and constructive possession of all the marijuana, and therefore, she was guilty of felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Another example where a defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute occurs in Williams v. State. 277 Ga. App. 106, (2005). Police officers stopped a vehicle due to an equipment violation, and the driver did not have a valid drivers license. When the driver stepped out of the vehicle, the officer saw a plastic bag containing suspected drugs. The driver told the officer that there was marijuana in baby shoes under the front seat and that it belonged to the passenger. The marijuana was packaged in small plastic bags which indicated that there was intent to sell it. During the trial, additional evidence was presented that passenger had an incident previously with multiple small bags containing marijuana. Based upon the driver's statement that the marijuana belonged to the passenger and the prior incident, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence that the marijuana belonged to the passenger and that there was intent to distribute it.
What has to be Proven
To be guilty of possession of marijuana 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 marijuana with the intent to distribute it. The intent part will require the most proof by the state, but they could use witness testimony or other evidence to show there was intent to distribute marijuana. It is important to have a Lawyer on your side to help fight against the State's allegations. Call us today to help you fight back.
Penalty for Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute
The penalty for committing possession of marijuana with intent to distribute will be a prison sentence between one and ten years and will be deemed a felony. O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(j)(2). For a second or subsequent conviction, the prison term increases to no less than ten years and up to forty years or it is possible to be given a life prison term.
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. What happens in those cases is that 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. Successful completion of the terms will result in a dismissal of the proceedings. 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 a one-year suspension, and a third or subsequent offense results in a minimum two-year suspension.
Defenses in Georgia
Lack of intent: If there is no evidence that you intended to distribute the marijuana, then you cannot be guilty of possession with intent to distribute. Proof that you were going to use the marijuana for personal consumption or that you have never distributed before could help bolster your case.
Innocence: Witness testimony or an alibi can be used to help prove your innocence. If you have any of these things, contact one our Lawyers so they can help you try to get the charges dropped.
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 marijuana was not going to be used for distribution but instead; for personal use. Ryan v. State, 277 Ga. App. 490, (2006). While there is no set standard for what sum amounts to distribution, the Court decides on a case-by-case basis, and our Marijuana Attorneys could use this defense to try and get your charge lowered to possession of marijuana.
I did not know that I possessed marijuana (also known as unwitting possession): An example of this is if a friend asked you to drop off a package to another friend. You had no reason to suspect that marijuana was in the package, and you were caught speeding, and they discovered the marijuana. Your Georgia Marijuana Lawyer could use this evidence to prove that you did not intend to possess marijuana and help get the charge dismissed.
Concerning 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.
What are not Defenses
I didn't know it was marijuana: The Court does not accept a lack of knowledge as an argument if you should have known the drug was marijuana 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 Marijuana with Intent to Distribute Lawyers will help you understand your options and will assist you with your case. Contact the office of Lawson and Berry to schedule a free consultation. 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 marijuana with intent to distribute 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. Your future is at stake; do not sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.