Drug Possession in Atlanta, Fulton County Georgia

The legal system in Fulton County treats drug crimes very seriously. If you have been arrested for the possession of drugs in Fulton County, you could be facing prison time.

If you have been arrested in Fulton County, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. The Fulton County Superior Court is located at 136 Pryor Street in Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly after arrest, you will have a First Appearance hearing where the Judge will notify you of your charges and rights and then make a determination for bond. In Georgia, there are five factors Judges use to determine whether or not to release someone on bond. These are known as the Ayala factors (Ayala v. State, 262 Ga. 704 (1993)). Judges may issue a bond upon a finding of the following factors:

  • The person poses no significant risk of fleeing or failing to appear in court when required
  • The person poses no significant risk or danger to a person, property, or community
  • The person poses no significant risk of committing a felony while out on bond
  • The person poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing justice

Under the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, drugs are classified into 5 schedules based on their potential for abuse, tendency for addiction, and their recognized medical uses. Schedule I is considered to have the highest risk of physical and psychological dependency and are considered to have no medical use, while Schedule V is recognized to have lower risk of dependency and legitimate medical use. The following are common examples of drugs that the lawyers of W. Scott Smith P.C. have defended in the past.

Schedule I

Heroin, THC, LSD, and MDMA (ecstasy).

Schedule II

Cocaine, Codein, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Methadone, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Oxycontin, Percocet

Schedule III

Suboxone, Ketamine, Anabolic steroids

Schedule IV

Xanax, Ambien, Valium

Drug Possession Penalties in Fulton County

The penalties in Fulton County and in Georgia are harsh. Possession of drugs in Georgia is a felony, except for marijuana if it less than an ounce. If it is your first offense and you are found guilty of a Schedule I or II drug, you are looking at 2-15 years in prison, intense probation, and high fines.

On second or subsequent offenses of Schedule I or II drugs, you are looking at at least 5 years in prison, and up to 30, with the possibility of similar probation and high fines as the first.

If you are found with Schedule III, IV, or V drugs, the penalty will be 1 to 5 years in prison. If it is your second or subsequent offense, you are facing 1 to 10 years prison time.

Additionally, if you are found guilty and a car was used during the felony, your driver’s license will be suspended.

How the State Proves Possession

The drugs do not have to be found on your person for you to be guilty of drug possession. Driving a car in which drugs are found is sufficient for the law to determine that you are in violation of the Controlled Substance Act. Even if the drugs are found thrown out or hidden, the State will still try to prove you were in possession. Depending on where the drugs were found, two people or more can be considered to have possession of the same drugs. Important facts for both the state and defense are whether or not paraphernalia or residue in plain view was found, and also whether you attempted to flee.

Additionally, drug crimes almost always implicate Fourth Amendment a analysis which can serve as a basis for suppression of the drugs. This means that if the State unlawfully searched or seized the drugs, the drugs are thrown out of evidence, and the case dismissed.

Talk to an Attorney

Because a conviction of drug possession carries serious prison time, it is important you speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable about drug possession laws in Georgia. Pleading guilty to any drug possession offense will have lifelong consequences that we want you to avoid. We would like for you to understand what you are facing and all of your legal options so that you can move on from this arrest in the best way possible. Call us for a FREE CONSULTATION today at 404-581-0999 and mention this blog.

Georgia Criminal Law – Drug Weight

In Georgia, there are many different kinds of drug charges that differ in a multitude of things such as the penalty. A misdemeanor drug charge can result in up to a $1000 fine excluding surcharges and up to one year in jail. A felony drug charge can result in 1 to 15 years, and even up to 30 years or life in prison depending on the charge and/or quantity of drugs. 

The quantity of drugs you’re charged with makes an enormous difference in the penalty and how the case proceeds. For example, you can be charged with trafficking marijuana if you possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana. If you possess somewhere between 10 pounds and 2,000 pounds, the minimum sentence is 5 years. If you possess somewhere between 2,000 pounds and 10,000 pounds, the minimum sentence is 7 years. And lastly, if you possess 10,000 pounds or more, the minimum sentence is 15 years. Therefore, the amount/weight of drugs you are found to possess is crucial to the defense of your case.

A multitude of things can work against you and your case. One very important factor can be the excess water weight found in drugs. Excess water can be found in drugs such as cannabis and can lose around two thirds of its weight when dried out. This factor can negatively impact your Georgia case because the excess water weight can push the weight from a non-trafficking amount to a trafficking amount or from a small drug trafficking charge to a higher charge. 

Another factor that can work against your case is the scale used to measure the drugs. I’ve had the opportunity to observe a scale used at the jail. A vital thing to remember is that a large portion of large scales are not correctly calibrated. This is important for your defense because you can attack the validity of the scale to work in favor of your case. Further, there can be times where the scale is not properly cleaned, leaving residue from other cases on the scale, which can potentially increase the amount of drugs you are charged with. 

Although there can be a lot of factors working against you in a simple drug charge and/or a drug trafficking charge, there are a lot of defense strategies that can reduce the sentence or even get your case dismissed. For example, we can file a motion under the authority of Williams v. State Ga. 749, 312 S.E.2d 40 (1983) to inspect and examine everything that was found and hire our own expert to examine the contents (sample of our motion down below). 

Should you have a trafficking cocaine or trafficking drugs case please inquire of your legal counsel about the weight of the marijuana or weight of the cocaine.  If you have a drug trafficking warrant or a loved one in custody on a drug trafficking charge and they are unrepresented in Fulton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, Cherokee County, or Forsyth County please call us.

The experienced lawyers at our PeachStateLawyer firm have been winning serious and big drug cases for over twenty years. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation to see how we can help you win your case. 

Drug Trafficking in Clayton County Georgia – Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

Imagine you have just flown into Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. You get off the plane and proceed to your luggage carousel. After you grab your bag, you are approached by several men who identify themselves as law enforcement. They ask to search your luggage and you agree. A search reveals a large quantity of drugs and you have no idea how they got there. You are now facing drug trafficking charges in Clayton County, Georgia.

Drug trafficking charges are different from other drug crimes, such as possession, possession with intent to distribute, drug distribution, and drug manufacturing. The key difference between drug trafficking and these other drug charges is quantity. Because of the large amount of drugs involved in trafficking charges, the punishment is significantly higher and may result in the imposition of a mandatory minimum prison sentence.

This blog serves to explain the drug trafficking laws and how these cases are handled in Clayton County, Georgia. Why Clayton County? Clayton County is a hotbed for drug trafficking because the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is located within its borders. Therefore, it is important to know what to expect from the prosecutors (District Attorney’s Office) and the Court itself when facing these charges.

The Law

O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31, makes it a criminal offense to sell, manufacture, delivers, or brings into the State, cocaine, illegal drugs, and marijuana is guilty of drug trafficking. The code section separates the law by drug and by quantity.

Trafficking cocaine is defined as any person who sells, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state or knowingly possesses 28 or more grams[1] of cocaine. If the quantity of cocaine is between 28 grams and 200 grams, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and shall pay a fine of $200,000. If the quantity of cocaine is between 200 grams and 400 grams, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and shall pay a $300,000 fine. Lastly, if the quantity of cocaine is 400 grams or more, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years and shall pay a fine of $1,000,000.

For morphine and opium (including heroin), a person is guilty of trafficking if they sell, manufacture, deliver, bring into this state, or possess 4 grams or more of the substance. If the quantity involved is between 4 and 14 grams, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for 5 years and shall pay a fine of $50,000. For between 14 grams and 28 grams, the sentence is at least 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000

Trafficking marijuana is defined as selling, manufacturing, growing, delivering, or possessing more than 10 pounds or marijuana. If the amount of marijuana is greater than 10 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds, the law requires a mandatory minimum 5 year prison sentence plus a $100,000 fine. If the quantity involved is greater than 2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds, there is a 7 year mandatory minimum prison sentence plus a $250,000 fine. Finally, if the quantity of marijuana is greater than 10,000 pounds, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 15 years as well as a fine of $1,000,000.

For methamphetamine and/or amphetamine, any person who sells, delivers, or brings into this state or who possesses 28 grams or more is guilty of trafficking. If the quantity is greater than 28 grams but less than 200 grams the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and pay a fine of $200,000. For quantities greater than 200 grams but less than 400 grams, it is a 15 year mandatory minimum prison sentence plus a $300,000 fine. If the quantity is greater than 400 grams, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is 25 years plus a $1,000,000 fine.

Although the above sentences are described as “mandatory minimum prison” sentences, there are a few limited ways in which someone convicted of trafficking may be sentenced to less prison time than what is required by the mandatory minimums: (1) If the defendant provides “substantial assistance” to the government in identifying, arresting, and/or convicting other people involved in the drug conspiracy, the prosecutor may move the court to reduce or suspend part or all of the defendant’s sentence; (2) by agreement of the parties through a “negotiated plea”; or (3) the judge may depart from these mandatory minimums if certain mitigating factors exist (no prior felonies, no firearm used, defendant not head of conspiracy, nobody was injured as a result of criminal conduct, or if the interests of justice would not be served by imposing a mandatory minimum sentence).

Clayton County

If you have been arrested in Clayton County for drug trafficking, the first and most important step is getting a bond. Only a superior court judge may set bail on a trafficking charge. When considering whether to grant a bond the judge analyzes four factors, whether the defendant is a significant risk of:

  1. Fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court
  2. Posing a threat or danger to any person
  3. Committing a felony while on pre-trial release
  4. Intimidating witnesses

An experienced attorney may be able to get the prosecutor to consent to a bond in the case if you have ties to the community and meet the above factors. In Clayton County, bonds for trafficking range from $65,000 up to $125,000. The judge may also impose non-monetary restrictions (house arrest, no contact provisions, GPS ankle monitor, curfew, etc.). There is always the possibility, however, that a judge will deny setting a bond in the case, even if the bond was consented to. If the prosecutor will not agree to a bond, then the defendant will have to go before the judge and offer evidence of defendant’s ties to the communities (length of residence, family ties, employment status and history, history of responding to legal process – failure to appears or probation violations, lack of criminal history). The judge will normally set a “surety bond” where the defendant is only responsible for posting 10% of the overall bond amount and a bond company pays the rest (percentage varies depending on bond company).

If a bond is granted, the next step is fighting the case. Once all the evidence is gathered through the discovery process and our firm’s own independent investigation, we then communicate with the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office in an attempt to discuss a resolution. If these preliminary discussions are to no avail, we then proceed to file a “motion to suppress” illegally obtained evidence. If granted, the prosecution would not be able to proceed with the case. If denied, and the prosecutor is unwilling to dismiss or reduce the charges then we would be fully prepared to try the case before a jury. There are several defenses available to someone charged with drug trafficking:

  1. Insufficient Drug Quantity (a motion to inspect evidence could reveal the weight of the substance does not meet the quantity as required in order to charge trafficking)
  2. No Possession  – Actual or Constructive (this defense asserts the defendant did not knowingly possess the substance in question, directly or indirectly)
  3. Equal Access to Drugs (this defense relates to other individuals having access to the container or area in which the drugs were found, thereby raising doubt that the defendant knowingly possessed the drugs)
  4. Illegally Obtained Evidence (this is the basis of a successful motion to suppress)

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested for drug trafficking, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.


[1] With a minimum purity of 10% or more of cocaine as described in Schedule II

What do you do if you are arrested for possession with intent or trafficking in drugs in Georgia?

If you or a loved one is arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking in Georgia, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence.

The District Attorney has a dedicated division to prosecute cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking. They will vigorously prosecute you if you are charged with a crime involving selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana or other illegal drugs.   

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Drug charges are aggressively prosecuted all over the State of Georgia.

Make sure your attorney has had felony jury trials and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle drug cases. Many drug cases are won at a motions hearing. It is imperative that you get body cams, dash cams, search warrants and take witness statements of anyone involved in the search and seizure of the drugs.  

The law may say you are presumed innocent but in drug cases, you have to prove your innocence.

Here is what you should do if arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle these cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles drug cases in Georgia
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the police department and profess your innocence. The police will not believe you. Do not think you can show up at your first court date and tell the prosecutor and judge that you are innocent and expect the charges to be dropped. If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking, you have to start preparing for your jury trial. Do not make any statements to anyone except your lawyer.
  3. Start gathering important evidence
    1. Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession.
    1. Gather and preserve any documents that might relate to this accusation including emails, texts, social media, phone records, GPS records, computer records or any other document that might show where you were when this incident allegedly occurred.
    1. Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this accusation. Do not discuss the case with this person but pass this list of potential witnesses to your attorney and let your attorney contact them.

Here is what you should never do if arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in Georgia.

  1. Never talk to law enforcement or the prosecutor without an attorney.

If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine or any other illegal drug, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999 or send us an email at mike@peachstatelawyer.com. We will sit down with you and fully discuss your case and what to expect in court. There is no charge for the initial consultation. You will only retain us if you feel we are the best law firm to represent you. It is your case and your life so you need to hire the lawyer that you feel gives you the best chance to win.

Airport Marijuana Trafficking

The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world. Thousands of travelers pass through every day for business and pleasure alike. It is a hub for nearly every major airline, flying passengers to the four corners of the world.

On High Alert for Drugs

Due to the high volume of flights and passengers, airport security, TSA agents, FBI Agents, Clayton County Police Department, Atlanta Police Department and the US Drug Enforcement Agency are trained to spot and act quickly on any suspected criminal behavior. We often get calls regarding drugs or weapons found in passengers’ luggage. Marijuana charges and in particular trafficking in marijuana are incredibly common at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, especially from flights out of Arizona, California and Colorado.

What Happens To My Bag?

Your bag that contains marijuana is brought from underneath the plane and directed to baggage claim at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. While you exit and make your way to the next terminal or to pick up your bags, the luggage is subjected to a K-9 Unit search. Courts have continually determined that using canines at the airport is lawful, and their actions are not considered searches under the 14th Amendment (United States v. Place) as long as the bag is not opened or searched before the dog alerts on the luggage. Law enforcement have probable cause to search your bag if a dog alerts the agent that marijuana is present. Once they find the drugs, they will detain you and likely charge you with trafficking marijuana.

Where Will My Case Be?

If you are charged, you will be sent to the Clayton County Jail, and the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office will handle your prosecution in Superior Court. At this point, it is imperative that you seek out representation to move forward and get out of jail quickly. We have years of experience in Clayton County handling various charges, including those involving incidents at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport.  Recently we have been very successful in arranging a bond on Trafficking at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Call us today for your free consultation at 404-581-0999. We will hear the details of your case and provide you with legal advice that could save your freedom.

Georgia DUI: The Art of Plea Bargaining

A successful criminal defense attorney is one who explores and exhausts every possible avenue of defense to the benefit of their clients. If the best course of action is taking the case to trial, the successful attorney will be prepared to try the case. However, statistical evidence shows an overwhelming majority (90%-95%) of all criminal cases in the United States are resolved through a plea bargain.[1] The primary reason for defense counsel to negotiate a plea bargain is to obtain a better resolution for your client than that which may be obtained at trial. 

Clearly, plea bargaining, is a major facet of our criminal justice system. Therefore it is important to understand not only the practical aspects of plea bargaining a DUI case, but also the law that guides those practices. If plea bargaining is the best resolution of a defendant’s DUI case and plea bargaining should occur, this article serves as a guide to the plea bargaining process.  

A Plea Agreement is a Contract

It must be remembered that a plea agreement is a contract under Georgia law, which binds both prosecutor and defendant.[2] In addition, a defendant surrenders valuable constitutional rights when entering a guilty plea under a plea bargain.[3] Further, it must be known that a plea agreement may be approved or denied by the judge.

Generally, no binding contract exists and either party may withdraw their bid until each party has assented or agreed to all the terms of a proposed agreement. This remains true even when the offer states it will remain open for a specific time.[4] Remembering these plea agreements as contacts is vital to the plea bargaining process.

Pre-Trial Conferences

Typically, negotiations regarding a plea occur during a “pre-trial conference.” This process is also known as, “pre-trying” a case. These pre-trial conferences can occur anywhere from before arraignment and up to (and perhaps even during) trial. During these conferences defense counsel and the prosecutor discuss the evidence in the case, viability of defenses, and possible alternative resolutions to the case. As a practical matter, a judge will not schedule a formal pre-trial conference in a misdemeanor DUI case. To the extent a judge does become involved in a pre-trial conference, U.R.S.C. 7.3 governs the process.

Reasons to Negotiate

Although it seems unfair given a defendant’s constitutional right to a trial, most judges will impose a harsher sentence if a defendant opts for a jury trial and loses than if a defendant pleads guilty. The Uniform Court Rules allow for the judge to engage in this type of decision making. Rule 33.6 of the Uniform Rules provides:

  1. It is proper for the judge to grant charge and sentence leniency to defendants who enter pleas of guilty or nolo contendere when the interests of the public in the effective administration of criminal justice are thereby served. Among the considerations which are appropriate in determining this question are:
  2. that the defendant by entering a plea has aided in ensuring the prompt and certain application of correctional measures;
  3. that the defendant has acknowledged guilt and shown a willingness to assume responsibility for conduct;
  4. that the leniency will make possible alternative correctional measures which are better adapted to achieving rehabilitative, protective, deterrent or other purposes of correctional treatment, or will prevent undue harm to the defendant from the form of conviction;
  5. that the defendant has made public trial unnecessary when there are good reasons for not having the case dealt with in a public trial;
  6. that the defendant has given or offered cooperation when such cooperation has resulted or may result in the successful prosecution of other offenders engaged in equally serious or more serious criminal conduct;
  7. that the defendant by entering a plea has aided in avoiding delay (including delay due to crowded dockets) in the disposition of other cases and thereby has increased the probability of prompt and certain application of correctional
  8. The judge should not impose upon a defendant any sentence in excess of that which would be justified by any of the rehabilitative, protective, deterrent or other purposes of the criminal law merely because the defendant has chosen to require the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt at trial rather than to enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.

Additional reasons to plea bargain include: avoiding a habitual violator status, to save a client’s driver’s license from administrative suspension, and if a DUI defendant is under 21 years of age.

What to Do Prior to a Plea

If a plea is inevitable, defense counsel should have client consider pursuing one or more of the following prior to entering a plea:

  1. Risk Reduction Program (Defensive Driving Class Offered Through DDS)
  2. Community Service
  3. Alcohol and Drug Evaluation
  4. Victim Impact Panel

The Plea Itself

A negotiated plea is where both the defense and prosecution reach an agreement as to the crimes to be admitted to by the defendant and the punishment the defendant is to be subjected to as a result of committing those crimes.  Not only is defense counsel prohibited from accepting a plea offer without authority from client, but defense counsel is also obligated to communicate every negotiated offer to client before rejecting it on client’s behalf.

If a judge refuses to honor the negotiated plea, the defendant may withdraw their plea. All plea bargains are subject to the court’s approval and can never act as more than recommendations to the court. If a judge does reject the plea, the court must inform the defendant: (1)The court is not bound by the plea agreement, (2) the court intends to reject the plea agreement, (3) the sentence or disposition may be less favorable to the defendant than the plea agreement, and (4) the defendant may then withdraw his guilty plea as a matter of right.

A defendant also has the option of entering a non-negotiated plea. This may be a useful tool if defendant wishes to enter a plea and avoid trial but does not agree with the State’s recommended sentence. In a non-negotiated plea, however, the right to withdraw a plea is not absolute and is a matter within the judge’s discretion.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.


Footnotes

[1] https://www.bja.gov/Publications/PleaBargainingResearchSummary.pdf

[2] Also referred to as a, “negotiated plea.”

[3] These include rights guaranteed under the Fifth and Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

[4] Usually this is because there is no “consideration” to keep the offer open.

Drug Defense

Here are the most common defenses in Georgia to drug charges:

Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Paragraphs One and Eight of the Georgia Constitution guarantees the right to due process of law, including lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. Search and seizure issues are very common in drug possession cases.   The vast majority of our wins have come from our extensive knowledge of Georgia Law and the limitations law enforcement are required to follow.

Mischarged Drug Case

We commonly see someone charged with offenses they didn’t commit.  Examples include Possession with Intent to Distribute where the drugs seized were for personal use.  Other examples can include where the drugs are misidentified.  The drug analyst then must testify at trial in order for the prosecution to make its case.

Drugs Belong to Someone Else

A common defense to any crime charge is to simply say you didn’t possess it or the drugs were not yours. In Georgia, possession can be constructive but that still requires the State to prove you intended to possess the drugs.

Entrapment

While law enforcement is free to set up drug buys, entrapment occurs when officers or informants induce a suspect to commit a crime he or she otherwise may not have committed. If an informant pressures a suspect into passing drugs to a third party then this may be considered entrapment.

Call us today

Our goals are to meet your goals.  Some clients want to avoid prison.  Other clients want to protect their criminal history and the collateral consequences that can be so harmful as a result of a drug conviction.  Whatever the goal, we will do everything in our power to meet your goals. 

by Scott Smith

Possession of Drug Related Objects

What’s a drug related object?

It is not uncommon for an officer to search your car or home and not only arrest you for the marijuana or drugs they found, but also for Possession of Drug Related Objects. In Georgia, under O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.2, it is illegal to possess objects used to smoke, store, ingest, manufacture, and conceal drugs with. The most common drug related object we defend against are the use of pipes, but other examples are syringes, grinders, and scales. Possession of a drug related object is a misdemeanor charge in Georgia, and can carry up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Even if the pipe or other item does not have any residue in it, you can still be arrested. Even if there were no drugs found in the car, police officers will routinely arrest you nonetheless for any drug related object that comes up in the search.

What will my case look like?

The defense in these cases vary, but if the officer finds the paraphernalia or drug related object as a result of an unlawful search, then the drugs and the drug objects can be suppressed as what is referred to as fruit of the poisonous tree. Examples of unlawful searches include those without a warrant in some circumstances, or those with faulty search warrants. An experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can attack the search and seizure of the drug paraphernalia or drugs found during a search by police officers. If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of drugs or possession of drug related objects in Georgia, call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

by Mary Agramonte

Marijuana Possession in Georgia

by Mary Agramonte

Even as the nationwide trend moves to legalization and decriminalization, possession of marijuana remains illegal in the State of Georgia. In most jurisdictions across the state, a possession of marijuana charge in Georgia will land you in jail, forcing you to dish out hundreds or thousands of dollars in bond money to be released. If you later plead or are found guilty, you can expect high fines, at least 12 months of probation, community service, drug evaluations, costly classes, and depending on your record, even more jail time.  An experienced criminal defense attorney has the ability to alleviate this by evaluating your defenses and advocating on your behalf.

If you have been arrested or cited for possession of marijuana less than an ounce, call the leading defense firm W. Scott Smith to protect your rights, your wallet, and your criminal history. A nolo contendere charge will not keep the charge off your record, and will not eliminate punishment. There are defenses beginning with the reason the officer stopped you, how the search was conducted, even down to the testing of the marijuana found. Being convicted of any crime can be detrimental to your future. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 404-581-0999.

 

 

Search Warrants and Social Media in Georgia Criminal Cases

by Mary Agramonte

Social media has become, for many of us, a central part of our lives. We use Facebook to share and view photos of friends and family, and even to catch up on daily news. We use Snapchat to send live photos or short clips and videos to those in our circle. Instagram exists to view photos of friends and strangers, and even to gain inspiration for food, travel, and lifestyle.

These social networking sites are used and enjoyed by people in all walks of life. Consequently, as the use by the general population increases, so does use for those engaged in drug dealing, gang activity, and other criminal acts. For this reason, social media and apps once thought to be private are becoming the key pieces of evidence as law enforcement is obtaining this information through search warrants. Search warrant allow police to conduct searches of people and their belongings for evidence of a crime and they are now being used to gain entry into your Facebook, Snapchat, and other sites.

Snapchat has recently come out to say that 350 million Snaps are sent every single day. Before these fleeting photos are opened, they exist on Snapchat’s server awaiting for the person on the other end to open it.  Some unopened Snaps, they’ve admitted, have been handed over to law enforcement through search warrants.

Facebook is no different and law enforcement is using the site regularly to investigate crimes. While a law enforcement agency is free to look at your public site, they are even able to obtain a search warrant even for the private aspects of your account. A recent case in the 11th Circuit, United States v. Blake, involved search warrants for email and Facebook accounts.  Law enforcement in Blake sought essentially every piece of data on the person’s Facebook account. The court stated that the search warrants were overly broad and stated they must still be specific and limited in scope. The data was still fair evidence despite this, as the officers relied on the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule, and the State was allowed to use the evidence from their Facebook account against them.

There tends to be a false sense of privacy for those engaged in sending Snaps, Facebooking, or Instagramming. These ‘private’ sites and photos can and do become to subject of search warrants in law enforcement investigations, and the biggest piece of evidence in a case might just end up being something you posted  or sent with the belief it would remain private.