Have You Been Charged With Selling, Distributing, or Possession of Dangerous Drugs in Georgia?
There are thousands of drugs that can be created and not all of them are contained in the Schedules under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Therefore, any other drug not included in one of the schedules will be classified as a dangerous drug. Dangerous drug crimes range in penalties from misdemeanors with minimal fees to felonies with lengthy prison terms and hefty fines. No matter what type of dangerous drug crime you have been charged with, the Law Office of Lawson and Berry is here to help. Our Georgia Dangerous Drug Attorneys have over fifty combined years of criminal defense experience. Let our expertise work for you today.
What is Considered a Dangerous Drug in Georgia?
It is essential to understand what classifies as a dangerous drug in Georgia. There are hundreds of substances that can be considered a dangerous drug.
O.C.G.A. §16-13-71 defines a “dangerous drug” as any drug other than a drug contained in any schedule of Article 2 of this chapter, which, under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (52 Stat. 1040 (1938)), 21 U.S.C. Section 301, et seq., as amended, may be dispensed only upon prescription. In any civil or criminal action or other proceedings, a certification from the Food and Drug Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services attesting to the fact that a drug other than a drug contained in any schedule of Article 2 of this chapter involved in the action or proceeding is a dangerous drug that federal law prohibits dispensing of without a prescription pursuant to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act shall be admissible as prima-facie proof that such drug is a “dangerous drug.”
Dangerous drugs can also be substances that include salts, isomers, esters, ethers, or derivatives of such drugs, chemicals, or elements, which have essentially the same pharmacological action. Some of the compounds include:
- Anabolic steroids
Georgia Law on the Sale, Distribution or Possession of Dangerous Drugs
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or association to sell, give away, barter, exchange, distribute, or possess in this state any dangerous drug. O.C.G.A. §16-13-72
However, there are some situations where it is legal:
- A drug manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or supplier holding a license or registration issued in accordance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act1 and authorizing the holder to possess dangerous drugs may possess dangerous drugs within this state but may not distribute, sell, exchange, give away, or by any other means supply dangerous drugs without a permit issued by the State Board of Pharmacy.
- Any drug manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or supplier holding a permit issued by the State Board of Pharmacy may sell, give away, exchange, or distribute dangerous drugs within this state, but only to a pharmacy, pharmacist, a practitioner of the healing arts, and educational institutions licensed by the state, or to a drug wholesaler, distributor, or supplier, and only if such distribution is made in the normal course of employment;
- A pharmacy may possess dangerous drugs, but the same shall not be sold, given away, bartered, exchanged, or distributed except by a licensed pharmacist in accordance with this article;
- A pharmacist may possess dangerous drugs but may sell, give away, barter, exchange, or distribute the same only when he compounds or dispenses the same upon the prescription of a practitioner of the healing arts. No such prescription shall be refilled except upon the authorization of the practitioner who prescribed it.
- A practitioner of the healing arts may possess dangerous drugs and may sell, give away, barter, exchange, or distribute the same.
Penalty for Violating O.C.G.A. §16-13-72
If convicted of selling, distributing, or possessing dangerous drugs in Georgia, you will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor convictions in Georgia carry fines up to $1,000, jail time up to one year, or both.
Defenses to Sale, Distribution or Possession of Dangerous Drugs in Georgia
The individual had a license or a valid permit for their action: Drug manufacturers, pharmacists, or other practitioners that have a license or permit to sell dangerous drugs will not be in violation of this statute. However, they must only participate in the action that the permit allows. If they just have permission to manufacture the drug, then selling the drug would be a crime.
What are Not Defenses
I did not know that I possessed a dangerous drug: An example of this argument can be found in Serna v. State. 308 Ga. App. 518. In that case, a professor was accused of sedating a former student with a dangerous drug and performing sexual acts on him. The professor argued that he did not possess a dangerous drug and that his possession was accidental. However, prior case law has established the rule that knowledge and possession may be proved by circumstantial evidence. There was evidence in this case that the professor used the dangerous drug to sedate his sexual battery victim. The court found that this conduct demonstrated his knowledge of the harmful effect of the compound and the jury concluded the professor intended to possess a dangerous drug, even if he was subjectively unaware of the precise chemical compound in the bottle. In sum, even if a person argues that they were unaware that they possessed a dangerous drug, the court will look at the specific facts in the case to see if there is circumstantial evidence to support their claim.
If you have been charged with a dangerous drug crime in Georgia, the Attorneys at Lawson and Berry can help! We have over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.