Have you Been Charged with Possession of Methamphetamine in Georgia?
Georgia laws punish drug crimes heavily, especially methamphetamine. Possession, sale, manufacturing, and trafficking methamphetamine are all crimes in Georgia, and each has their specific penalties. It is crucial for your case to have a Georgia Possession of Methamphetamine Attorney who knows the differences between each offense and how to successfully defend against them. Lawson and Berry and their team of Possession of Methamphetamine Lawyers in Georgia are here to help you defend against any drug charge that you have. A charge is not the same as a conviction so call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Georgia Law on Possession of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is part of the Schedule II drug/controlled substances in Georgia, which also include crack cocaine, morphine, opium, and methadone. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30(a) states it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance.
Georgia Case Law on Possession of Methamphetamine
In the case of Davenport v. State, the suspects were convicted of possession of methamphetamine. 308 Ga. App. 140, (2011). One night police officers observed a car making erratic lane changes, failing to signal, and following too closely. Once the vehicle was pulled over, the officers noticed the driver and passengers were slow to answer questions and had diminished fine motor skills. The officers received consent to search the passengers and found a clear plastic bag of methamphetamine, three smaller bags of white powder, and marijuana.
During the trial, two of the passengers argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict them of possession of methamphetamine. They said that the other passengers had equal access to the drugs, and there was no indication that they were the ones who possessed it. The Court looked at whether the two suspects had constructive possession of the drugs. The Court stated that as long as there is slight evidence of access, power, and intention to exercise dominion or control over the contraband, then the question of whether or not there was constructive possession will be left to the jury. One of the other passengers testified that everyone was smoking methamphetamine inside the vehicle for at least 10 minutes before the police stop. Also, both suspects received blood tests, and they both tested positive for methamphetamine. After considering all the evidence, the Court found that all of the people in the car had equal access to the drugs and the suspects were found in constructive possession of methamphetamine.
What Has to be Proven for a Possession of Meth Conviction
To be guilty of possession of methamphetamine in Georgia, 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 methamphetamine. 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 methamphetamine 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 methamphetamine that goes beyond mere spatial proximity.
Penalty for a Possession of Methamphetamine Conviction in Georgia
The penalty for being charged with possession of methamphetamine is a prison term of five to thirty years. The crime will be charged 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.
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 removed from the accused's record. Judges are more likely to order a conditional release if it is the first drug offense for the defendant, and it is a relatively minor case. The conditions could include requiring the accused to undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program or medical treatment.
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.
I did not know that I possessed methamphetamine (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 methamphetamine was in the package, and you were caught speeding, and they discovered the methamphetamine. Your Georgia Possession of Methamphetamine Lawyer could use this evidence to prove that you did not intend to possess methamphetamine and help get the charge dismissed.
The police used an illegal stop: One defense available to you that your Possession of Methamphetamine Lawyer in Georgia can investigate is whether the police conducted an illegal, stop, detention, or search when they discovered the methamphetamine. 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 happens, your case will be dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
Lack of possession: If you are found in constructive possession of methamphetamine, then you have a defense that you did not possess it. Just being in proximity to methamphetamine is not enough to prove that you possessed it. The State must demonstrate that you possessed it even though you were not in direct proximity to it. An example of this is a person riding with two friends in a car. He is sitting in the passenger seat and is unaware that there is methamphetamine under the seat. Just because the bag is found under the seat, he was sitting in does not prove that he possessed the drugs.
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 Possession of Methamphetamine Lawyers so they can help you try to get the charges dropped.
What are not Defenses
It belongs to someone else: Even if the methamphetamine does not directly belong to you, if caught in possession of it, you could be found guilty.
I did not know it was methamphetamine: While this can be used as a defense, if the accused knew that it could be methamphetamine in a package but did not look to have a defense if prosecuted, then they could still be found guilty of possession. An example is if a friend asks his neighbor to drop off a package for him. The neighbor is aware that the friend sometimes makes drug deals, and he suspects that the package contains methamphetamine. However, he does not look inside the package to maintain innocence. This defense would not hold up in Court.
Georgia Possession of Methamphetamine 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 Possession of Methamphetamine 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 possession of methamphetamine 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.