Have You Been Charged with Possession of a Schedule IV Drug in Georgia?
There are numerous types of drugs in Georgia and they are broken into classifications called Schedules. Depending on what schedule your drug belongs to can have a major impact on the penalties you will face. No matter what Schedule the drug falls under, do not underestimate the severity of the charges. It is important to hire a Georgia Schedule IV Drug Attorney in Georgia who is familiar with the Schedules and knows the impact a conviction will have on your future.
What is Considered a Schedule IV Drug in Georgia?
Schedule IV have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs. Some of them have accepted medical uses but abuse of these types of drugs may lead to limited psychological and physical dependence in relation to Schedule III drugs. The list of substances classified as Schedule IV Drugs can be found in O.C.G.A. §16-13-28. Some of the more commonly known drugs that are deemed Schedule IV drugs include:
Georgia Laws Regarding Possession of Schedule IV Drugs
According to O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(a), it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance.
When dealing with drug-related offenses, the State must prove that you possessed the drug. There are two types of possession: actual and constructive. Actual possession occurs when the substance is found on your person like in your pocket or your purse. Constructive possession most commonly happens when the drugs are found in your home, vehicle, or at your business. The law assumes that you exercise dominion or control over these areas and that you are presumed owner/possessor of whatever is found in those areas. Therefore, even if the drug is not found directly on you, possession can be implied.
The Penalty for Possessing a Schedule IV Drug in Georgia
A conviction for possessing a Schedule IV drug in Georgia will be treated as a felony conviction. The punishment will be a prison term between one and three years. However, upon a third or subsequent conviction, the prison term will be elevated to between one to five years. O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(g).
Alternatively, Georgia allows for conditional release 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.
What Has to be Proven to be Convicted of Possessing a Schedule IV Drug?
To be guilty of possession of a Schedule IV drug 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 a drug contained in Schedule IV. 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 drug 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.
I did not know that I possessed a Schedule IV Drug (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 the Schedule IV drug was in the package, and you were caught speeding, and they discovered the drug. Your Georgia Possession of Schedule IV Drugs Lawyer could use this evidence to prove that you did not intend to possess the drug and help get the charge dismissed.
The police used an illegal stop: One defense available to you that your Possession of a Schedule IV Drug 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 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 a Schedule IV drug, then you have a defense that you did not possess it. Just being in proximity to the drug 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 are drugs 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 Schedule IV Drug Lawyers so they can help you try to get the charges dropped.
What are not Defenses
It belongs to someone else: Even if the drugs do not directly belong to you, if caught in possession of it, you could be found guilty.
I did not know it was a Schedule IV drug: While this can be used as a defense, if the accused knew that it could be a controlled substance 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 drugs. However, he does not look inside the package to maintain innocence. This defense would not hold up in Court.
Possession of a Schedule IV Drug comes with serious consequences if convicted. It is in your best interest to hire a Schedule IV Drug Attorney in Georgia from the very beginning. The more time you can give us, the better your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. Our Georgia Drug Crime Lawyers have over 50 combined years of experience. We will help you evaluate all the options and develop a plan that helps achieve your goals! Contact us now and schedule a free case evaluation.