Have you Been Charged with Trafficking Marijuana in Georgia?
Lawson and Berry and their team of Marijuana Lawyers can help if you or a loved one has been charged with trafficking marijuana. Remember, a charge is not the same as a conviction, so it is vital to your case to get a lawyer that is knowledgeable in the field of marijuana.
Marijuana is regulated under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. While numerous other drugs are considered a scheduled substance, marijuana is not. O.C.G.A. §16-13-1(a)(1) states that the term controlled substance shall include marijuana. Being charged with trafficking marijuana is not merely a slap on the wrist; it can have serious consequences. That is why it is vital to have an understanding and knowledgeable Attorney to help you with your case. The Law Offices of Richard Lawson and his Team of Georgia Marijuana Attorneys will fight for you and try to help you avoid a criminal conviction. Do not wait to call; schedule a free consultation today.
O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(c) defines the crime of trafficking marijuana when someone sells, manufactures, grows, delivers, brings into this state, or has possession of a quantity of marijuana exceeding ten pounds.
In the case of Mora v. State, the suspect was convicted of trafficking marijuana in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31. 292 Ga. App. 860, (2008). The suspect, Anderson Stalin Mora was a truck driver who stopped at a weigh station for a routine check. The officer at the weigh station noticed some discrepancies in a logbook and had the trailer opened. To open the trailer the officer had to obtain the key to the padlock from Mora. He found two duffle bags in plain sight containing over twenty-one pounds of marijuana. Mora and his co-driver were both arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana in that they knowingly had possession of marijuana exceeding 10 pounds.
During the trial, Mora argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knew of the existence of the marijuana. While Mora did not have actual possession of the drugs, the Court found that he did have constructive possession. Constructive possession requires proof that the accused knowingly had both the power and the intention at a given time to exercise control over the drugs. In this case, the duffel bags were inside the trailer and were in plain sight instead of trying to be hidden. Also, Mora was the only person with a key to open the doors. Based on that evidence, the Court found that there was enough evidence to show that Mora knew of the existence of the marijuana, and therefore, the Court convicted him of trafficking marijuana.
What has to be Proven
To be guilty of trafficking marijuana, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is unlawful for any person to traffic marijuana; therefore, the State would have to present evidence showing how the marijuana was being trafficked.
Penalty for Trafficking Marijuana in Georgia
The penalty for trafficking marijuana in an amount greater than 10 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds requires at least a five-year prison sentence and shall pay a fine of $100,000.00. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(c)(1). An amount of marijuana between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds requires a minimum sentence of seven years and a fine of $250,000.00. O.C.G.A. §16-13-31(c)(2). For any amount of marijuana above 10,000 pounds, the minimum sentence is fifteen years with a fine of $1 million. O.C.G.A. §16-13-31(c)(3).
However, there are ways in which you could receive less than the mandatory minimum sentence. One way a sentence could be reduced is by assisting in the identification, arrest, or conviction of other individuals involved in the drug operation. O.C.G.A. §16-13-31(g)(1). By providing assistance in those areas, your Attorney could ask the Court to reduce your sentence based on your support.
A judge could also depart from the mandatory minimum sentence if it is proven that
- the suspect was not a leader of the criminal conduct;
- did not possess a firearm, dangerous weapon, or hazardous object during the crime;
- or the conduct did not result in death or serious bodily to a person other than to a person who is a party to the crime;
- there was no prior felony conviction; and
- justice would not be served by the imposition of the prescribed mandatory minimum sentence. O.C.G.A. §16-13-31(g)(2).
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. The conditions could include requiring the accused to undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program or medical treatment.
One factor that may increase a prison sentence is whether a minor was involved. If a person under the age of 21 years participates in the sale or manufacturing of marijuana, then the crime is automatically elevated to a felony and will be punished by a prison term of five to twenty years and/or a fine up to $20,000. O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(k).
Defenses to Trafficking Marijuana in Georgia
Illegal means: If the methods used to suppress the marijuana were unconstitutional, then any evidence obtained will not be allowed in Court. Your Attorney can help you evaluate your case and see if police officers conducted the investigation legally.
I was not the leader of the activity: As described earlier, certain factors can help reduce your sentence. Not being the leader of the criminal conduct along with not possessing a firearm and other things can help you obtain a lesser sentence. It is important to let your Lawyer know all the details of your case so they can use these defenses.
The amount was incorrect: If you can prove that the amount seized was less than the amount you are charged with, then you would be eligible to have the charged reduced or receive a lesser sentence. Mistakes happen, and the amount of marijuana found has a severe impact on 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.
I should not be convicted of both manufacturing marijuana and trafficking marijuana: Because the same evidence is used to prove both crimes, the crime of manufacturing marijuana should merge into a conviction for trafficking. Therefore, you should not be guilty of both of those crimes unless there are exigent circumstances. Preval v. State, 302 Ga. App. 785, (2010).
What are not Defenses
Lack of possession: Courts look at whether a person had actual or constructive possession. Actual possession means that a person has the marijuana either on them or in their proximity. Constructive possession means that the marijuana was in an area where the person exercises dominion or control over. Therefore, even if you do not have the marijuana directly on your person, you can still be guilty of trafficking marijuana if it was in an area under your control.
Georgia Trafficking Marijuana Lawyers will help you understand your options and will assist you with your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact one of our highly experienced Lawyers. 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 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.