Have you Been Charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine in Georgia?
The Office of Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Trafficking Methamphetamine Lawyers can help if you or a loved one has been charged with trafficking methamphetamine. 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 methamphetamine. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Methamphetamine is part of the Schedule II drug/controlled substances in Georgia, which also include cocaine, morphine, opium, and methadone. Being charged with trafficking methamphetamine is not merely a slap on the wrist; it can have serious consequences. The difference between possession, selling, and manufacturing methamphetamine from trafficking is simply the amount of methamphetamine. 28 grams was chosen as the dividing line and crossing that threshold has grave consequences. That is why it is vital to have an understanding and knowledgeable Trafficking Methamphetamine Attorney in Georgia to help you with your case. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Trafficking Methamphetamine Attorneys will fight for you and try to help you avoid a criminal conviction. Do not wait to call; schedule a free consultation today.
Georgia Law on Trafficking Methamphetamine
O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(e) defines the crime of trafficking methamphetamine as when a person sells, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is in possession of 28 grams or more of methamphetamine or amphetamine.
Georgia Case Law on Trafficking Methamphetamine
A man was convicted of trafficking methamphetamine in the case of Escobar v. State. Detective Ubaldo Rios was working with a confidential informant (CI) who had a meeting with a suspected drug dealer. Rios observed the drug dealer, Escobar, drive to CI's apartment and exit his car with a large McDonald's bag. Escobar remained in the parking lot for a long time when another car drove up and Rios observed Escobar handing a different bag to another person. Observer's pulled Escobar over and upon a consensual search of his car, they found two large packages of crystal meth, with a total weight of 896 grams. The evidence presented at the trial showed that Escobar had actual possession of drugs when he arrived at confidential informant's apartment complex, showed the drugs to informant, Escobar admitted his possession of drugs during phone conversation with undercover police detective, and observations of undercover officers indicated Escobar transferred possession of the drugs to his accomplice. Therefore, the Court found there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction for trafficking methamphetamine.
Penalty for a Trafficking Methamphetamine Conviction in Georgia
The penalty for trafficking methamphetamine in Georgia coincides with the amount of methamphetamine seized at the time of the charge. If there is 28 grams or more involved, but less than 200 grams, the penalty will be a mandatory prison term of at least ten years and a fine of $200,000.00. OC.G.A. § 16-13-31(e)(1). An amount of methamphetamine between 200 grams and 400 grams will receive the consequence of a mandatory prison sentence of at least fifteen years and a fine of $350,000.00. O.C.G.A. §16-13-3(e)(2). For any amount of methamphetamine above 400 grams, the penalty is a mandatory prison term of at least twenty-five years with a fine of $1 million. O.C.G.A. §16-13-31(e)(3). No matter how much methamphetamine was seized, the crime for trafficking methamphetamine will be a felony conviction.
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).
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 methamphetamine, 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).
There are several options your Georgia Trafficking Methamphetamine Lawyer can use on your behalf. Many courts offer the possibility of Drug Court. Under this program, participants go through mandatory treatment, frequent drug testing, and other program requirements. All though the program is strict, successful completion will result in the dismissal of the felony drug charge.
Many courts also allow for a defendant to plead guilty under the First Offender Act. This means if the defendant completes the sentence successfully without reoffending or violating probation, the will receive a discharge and acquittal of the charge. The decision to allow someone to plea under First Offender Status is up to the Judge's discretion. It is vital to have an experienced attorney available to help you determine whether pursuing a first offender plea is the best decision in your case.
Defenses to Trafficking Methamphetamine in Georgia
Illegal means: If the methods used to suppress the methamphetamine 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.
I didn't have possession: Courts have found that the mere fact that a defendant is traveling with someone who is convicted of trafficking methamphetamine does not establish that the defendant is a party to the crime of possession even if the defendant may have known that their companion was carrying drugs. Haxho v. State, 186 Ga. App. 393, (1984).
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 methamphetamine 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 methamphetamine and trafficking methamphetamine: Because the same evidence is used to prove both crimes, the crime of manufacturing methamphetamine should merge into a conviction for methamphetamine. Therefore, you should not be guilty of both of those crimes unless there are exigent circumstances.
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 methamphetamine either on them or in their proximity. Constructive possession means that the methamphetamine was in an area where the person exercises dominion or control over. Therefore, even if you do not have the methamphetamine directly on your person, you can still be guilty of methamphetamine if it was in an area under your control. In sum, either actual or constructive possession will suffice to establish the element of possession necessary to support a conviction of trafficking in a controlled substance. Gamble v. State, 223 Ga. App. 653, (1996).
Lack of Intent: There is no requirement in the statute that a suspect must have the intent to traffick methamphetamine. Therefore, it will not matter if Court whether or not you intended to commit the crime.
It wasn't pure methamphetamine: The crime of trafficking methamphetamine in Georgia is committed whether or not the methamphetamine is delivered in a pure form or whether the methamphetamine is present in a mixture that contains other substances. The only requirement is that the quantity of the substance containing methamphetamine must be greater than 28 grams. Godett v. State, 205 Ga. App. 545, (1992).
Georgia Trafficking Methamphetamine Lawyers will help you understand your options and will assist you with your case. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia Trafficking Methamphetamine Attorneys, contact the Law Office of Lawson and Berry. 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 methamphetamine case is unique, and our Trafficking Methamphetamine Attorneys in Georgia 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.