Have You Been Charged with Possession of a Substance Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine in Georgia?
Georgia laws strictly punish drug crimes. While it is known that possessing marijuana or methamphetamines is illegal, a person can also be charged for possessing substances containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in Georgia. No matter what type of drug offense you have been charged with, our Georgia Drug Crime Lawyersare here to help. 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 Possession of a Substance Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine
O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30.3(b)(1) reads as follows:
It shall be unlawful for any person, other than a person or entity described in paragraph (22), (28), (29), (30), (33), or (41) of Code Section 26-4-5, to possess any product that contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in an amount which exceeds 300 pills, tablets, gel caps, capsules, or other individual units or more than 9 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine or a combination of these substances, whichever is smaller.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture amphetamine or methamphetamine.
Also, for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30.3, “ephedrine” and “pseudoephedrine” are synonymous, so that the one includes the other. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30.3(a)(1). The Court has found that the terms can be used interchangeably because they have the same chemical formulas and induce the same physical effects. Sims v. State, 258 Ga. App. 536, (2002).
Georgia Case Law
In the case of Rochefort v. State, the accused was convicted of possession of more than 300 tablets of ephedrine. Rochefort was observed concealing boxes of cold medication at a truck stop and was arrested for shoplifting. Upon searching his truck, the policeman found plastic bags containing 2,329 tablets. Testing of two of the tablets showed that they contained pseudoephedrine. Therefore, Rochefort was convicted of possession of more than 300 tablets of ephedrine in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30.3(b)(1). 279 Ga. 738, (2005).
What Has to be Proven for a Possession of a Substance Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine Conviction
To be guilty of possessing substances containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The State must show that the accused possessed the illegal substances, but the possession could 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 substances containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine 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 substances that goes beyond mere spatial proximity.
The Penalty for Possession of a Substance Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine in Georgia
A person convicted of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30.3(b)(1) will be punished by a prison term between one and ten years. It will be deemed a felony conviction. While the prison term is significant, the consequences extend into the accused's everyday life. Having a felony conviction on your criminal history can make it difficult to get a job, apply for housing, or qualify for credit.
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 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.
Georgia Defenses to Possession of Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine
The amount was less than 300 tablets: That statute outlines that it is illegal to possess any product that contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in an amount which exceeds 300 gel caps, pills, tablets, or capsules. If the amount was less than that, you will not be guilty under this statute but may be prosecuted under another crime.
I did not know that I possessed a substance containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (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 contents of the package were illegal, and you were caught speeding, and they discovered the substance. Your Georgia Possession of Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine Lawyer could use this evidence to prove that you did not intend to possess the drugs and help get the charge dismissed.
The police used an illegal stop: One defense available to you that your Possession of Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine Lawyer in Georgia can investigate is whether the police conducted an unlawful 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 substances containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, then you have a defense that you did not possess it. Just being in proximity to the drugs 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 illegal substances 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 Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine Lawyers so they can help you try to get the charges dropped.
What are not Defenses
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.
I did not know it was a substance containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine: While this can be used as a defense, if the accused knew that it could be illegal drugs 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 illegal substances. However, he does not look inside the package to maintain innocence. This defense would not hold up in Court.
Our Possession of Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine Lawyers in Georgia 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 Substances Containing Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine 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.