Law enforcement agencies in Atlanta, Georgia take drug offenses very seriously. They are willing to put considerable time and money into getting guilty verdicts for individuals charged with drug crimes. Upon conviction, the punishment can be severe. Even offenses that you may think are minor could result in harsh penalties. As soon as you get arrested or you think you’re under investigation, you should contact the experienced Atlanta drug crime defense lawyers at Howard & Arca.
You need to give your Atlanta criminal defense lawyer adequate time to review your case and come up with a solid strategy. If you are unrepresented, you may be tempted to plead guilty just to get your case over with. However, an attorney will look at your case in its entirety. They may realize the evidence against you is weak or even that the police obtained it illegally. If your rights were violated in any way, the court may throw out the case. There may also be other procedural errors which a lawyer could use in your defense.
If you are convicted, the punishment depends on the type of drug involved and the nature of the crime. Controlled substances fall into five classifications and it is helpful to understand them. A criminal defense lawyer at Howard & Arca can answer questions and advise you of the best course of action on your case. If you are facing drug charges, call our offices today to receive a risk-free consultation and get the best representation possible.
What Are the Controlled Substances Classifications in Georgia?
People often talk about drug crimes as if they are all the same. It is true that illegally possessing, trafficking or manufacturing any controlled substance is serious. However, being caught with marijuana is very different from being found in possession of heroin.
Georgia has fairly complicated laws regarding drugs. The state categorizes substances into five schedules based mainly on their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. You may have heard about Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. However, if you’re not sure about exactly what they are, the information below will help you. Atlanta drug crime defense lawyers will go into more detail about how the laws relate to your specific situation.
Schedule I Drugs
Substances in the Schedule I category are those which have the highest potential for abuse. These drugs are deemed to have no accepted medical use. They are, therefore, seen as unsafe even if used while supervised by a medical professional. Schedule I narcotics include LSD, heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), and marijuana.
It is very important to remember that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Even though some states have legalized it for medical or recreational use, federally, it remains illegal. If you are found with more than an ounce of marijuana in the state of Georgia, you can face felony charges.
Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs are known to have a high potential for abuse. They are also highly likely to result in psychological or physical dependency. However, there’s a difference between them and Schedule I drugs. Schedule II drugs can be used for medical purposes as long as the user is supervised. Schedule II drugs include opium, cocaine, amphetamine, morphine, codeine, oxycodone hydrocodone, fentanyl, and ketamine.
If you have been accused of a crime involving Schedule II drugs, don’t try to fight the charge on your own. You need to have one of the best Georgia law firms representing you throughout the process.
Schedule III Drugs
As you may have noticed, as the schedule changes, the drug’s potential for abuse is reduced. That means Schedule III drugs have a lesser risk of abuse than Schedule II drugs. However, they are still believed to be dangerous. They are seen as having a moderate or low risk of dependency or abuse. These substances are more likely to be used by medical specialists.
Schedule III drugs can be Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants and stimulants, anabolic steroids and some barbiturates. Substances or mixtures containing small amounts of narcotics can also be considered Schedule III drugs.
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse when compared to Schedule III substances. They have some accepted medical use but they may lead to psychological dependence if abused. This basically means these drugs can help with certain medical conditions but they can also be dangerous. That’s why their use and distribution are still controlled.
Schedule IV drugs include a number of well-known drugs like Alprazolam (Xanax), Zolpidem (Ambien), Clonazepam (Klonopin) and Diazepam (Valium). While some people see these substances as no big deal, you could find yourself in trouble because of them.
Schedule V Drugs
There are drugs that have an even lower potential for abuse even though they may still be dangerous. They can still lead to limited psychological and physical dependence, but they have an accepted medical use.
Schedule V drugs include substances or mixtures containing small amounts of certain narcotics. They encompass cough syrups with under 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters, antidiarrheals, and analgesics. Popular drugs that fall into this category are Robitussin AC, Motofen, Lomotil, and Lyrica.
What Are the Drug Penalties in Georgia?
Drug convictions come with varying administrative and criminal penalties. For example, drug possession convictions in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia result in the suspension of your driver’s license. If it is your first conviction, there will be a mandatory six-month suspension. A second conviction results in a one-year suspension. Third and subsequent convictions cause you to lose your license for two years.
More importantly, even simple possession charges can result in jail time. A conviction for possession of over an ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to ten years in prison. There is also a mandatory one-year minimum in place as well as fines. Other penalties for first-time offenders are as follows:
- From two to 15 years imprisonment for schedule I or II drugs
- From two to 15 years imprisonment for schedule II drugs which are not narcotics
- From one to five years imprisonment for schedule III, IV or V drugs
For second and subsequent convictions, the penalties increase. If a court convicts you of drug trafficking, there are federal mandatory minimum penalties in place. For schedule II drugs or narcotic Schedule II drugs, you could face between 5- and 30-years imprisonment. For Schedule III, IV, or V drugs, the sentence is one to ten years in prison.
Contact our Atlanta Drug Crime Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Drug convictions in Georgia can completely disrupt your life. You can lose your freedom, livelihood, and social standing. You may also have to hand over all your savings if you get saddled with heavy fines. With so much at stake, you need to contact an Atlanta drug crime defense lawyers with Howard & Arca. Trying to handle drug charges on your own is never a good idea. You’re unlikely to get a satisfactory outcome.
At Howard and Arca, we work hard to ensure clients in the metro Atlanta area get the best representation possible. Since drug laws can be difficult to understand, we take the time to explain the charges against you. We make sure you understand the penalties you’re facing. We can mount a strong defense or negotiate a plea deal, depending on the unique circumstances of your case. We simply want you to get the best outcome you can. All you need to do is contact our law offices and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Call Howard & Arca today and let us fight for you! Don’t go it alone, get the best criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta.