Possession of Schedule 1 Controlled Substances – VGCSA – Georgia

Possession of Schedule 1 drugs are classified as felonies in the State of Georgia. According to the laws of our state, criminal charges associated with the possession of these drugs are in accordance with the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. The following controlled substances are examples of drugs classified as Schedule 1:

  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Morphine
  • Ecstasy

THE OFFENSE

V.G.C.S.A. offenses, which stands for “Violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, include the charge of possessing Schedule I drugs. The Georgia Controlled Substances Act is laid out in the following statutes: O.C.G.A. § 16-13-20 through § 16-13-30. A list of all of the controlled substances considered to be Schedule I are referenced in O.C.G.A. § 16-13-25 of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule I controlled substance is defined as:

  1. A drug or other substance that has a high potential for abuse;
  2. The drug or other substance does not currently have any accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

According to O.C.G.A § 16-13-30, it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance, which does encompass any Schedule I drug.

SENTENCING

If an accused is prosecuted under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act for possessing a Schedule I controlled substance, the charge will be classified as a felony. If the accused is later convicted of these charges, the following punishments may occur:

  1. If the aggregate weight is less than one gram of a solid substance or less than one milliliter of a liquid substance, the accused may be sentenced to imprisonment anywhere between 1-3 years;
  2. If the aggregate weight is at least one gram but less than four grams of a solid substance or at least one milliliter but less than four milliliters of a liquid substance, the accused may be sentenced to imprisonment anywhere between 1-8 years;
  3. If the aggregate weight is at least four grams but less than 28 grams of a solid substance or at least four milliliters but less than 28 milliliters of a liquid substance, the accused may be sentenced to imprisonment anywhere between 1-15 years.

Because of the severity of the punishment for possessing a Schedule I controlled substance, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such serious allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all possible options of an accused arrested and charged with V.G.C.S.A., we understand and assert all potential defenses for such a charge, and we work tirelessly at advocating for our client’s rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia’s New Street Racing Law

Street racing and laying drag (https://www.peachstatelawyer.com/laying-drag-arrests-and-citations-in-atlanta-georgia/)  has long been illegal in the State of Georgia. However, in response to increased street racing incidents across the city of Atlanta, Governor Kemp recently signed new legislation creating even more harsh penalties for those who continue to engage in street racing.

 

First, the bill now criminalizes an act, that before, was not against the law: promoting or organizing an exhibiting of illegal drag racing.  The State of Georgia is now cracking down on Instagram and other social media accounts who promote meetups for illegal street racing events. Anyone charged and convicted under this new law, found at O.C.G.A § 16-11-43.1, will be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor.

 

Second, the Georgia law adds a completely new code section titled Reckless Stunt Driving, at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390.1. Under Georgia law, it is now specifically illegal to drag race in reckless disregard for safety of persons. The law includes drag racing both on public roads, as well as on private property. The punishment for Reckless Stunt Driving includes a mandatory ten days in jail, up to 6 months for this charge alone, along with a minimum fine of $300.00.  It is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A second conviction within ten years increases the jail time to 90 days to 12 months, and a third conviction has a mandatory 120 days to 12 months in jail, and the base fines can go up to $5000.00. A fourth conviction of Reckless Stunt Driving in a ten year period becomes a felony and a mandatory one year in prison.

 

Historically, a conviction for reckless driving did not suspend a Georgia driver’s license. This has now changed, drastically. Under Georgia’s New Street Racing Law, if you are convicted of reckless stunt driving in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390.1, your license will be suspended for up to 12 months, however you can apply for early reinstatement after 120 days. On a second conviction, it is a mandatory 3 year license suspension, but you may be able to reinstate your license after finishing an 18 months hard license suspension. A third conviction in five years will lead to a Habitual Violator status, whereby the license suspension will be five years, with a potential probationary license after two years.

 

The new law even allows for forfeiture after being declared a habitual violator. This means that the State of Georgia can confiscate your car, forever, if you have been convicted three times of reckless stunt driving in five years.

 

Street racing, laying drag, and reckless stunt driving are being taken more seriously in Georgia than ever before. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with street racing in Atlanta, call the Law Office of W. Scott Smith PC at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. A criminal conviction is forever, so engage an experienced lawyer to assist in avoiding the harsh consequences of jail-time, and license suspension, that come with Georgia’s New Street Racing Law.

Aggravated Battery Charges in Georgia

In Georgia, there are multiple types of battery offenses such as simple battery, battery, family violence battery, and aggravated battery. This blog will solely focus on aggravated battery.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-24, a person commits the offense of aggravated battery when he/she maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him/her of a member of his/her body, by rendering a member of his/her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his/her body or a member thereof. The crime of aggravated battery does not require that the victim’s disfigurement be permanent, however, the injury must be more severe than a superficial wound. Some examples of aggravated battery include, but are not limited to:

  • Striking a person with a weapon or dangerous object;
  • Inflicting an injury upon a person in which causes them to have blurred vision, broken bones, severe bruising, memory lapse, or permanent nerve damage;
  • Shooting a person with a firearm;
  • Inflicting an injury upon a person in which causes them to suffer temporary or permanent disfigurement;
  • A battery against a particular group of people that are protected such as police officers, healthcare providers, social services workers, the elderly, and the developmentally disabled.

A conviction of aggravated battery requires the jury to find that an accused person acted with intent. Thus, an experienced criminal defense attorney may defend these allegations by arguing that the accused did not have the requisite state of mind to commit an aggravated battery. Another example of an affirmative defense that may be raised in a case like this is self-defense.

Penalties

An aggravated battery charge is a serious offense and is characterized as a felony. A person convicted of this offense can be punished anywhere between 1-20 years in prison. However, the punishment is enhanced when the victim of an aggravated battery is part of a particular class of persons. If the victim is a police officer engaged in his/her official duties then the accused, if convicted, may be sentenced to a prison term of at least 10 years, but no more than 20 years. Furthermore, if the victim is a person over the age of 65 years old, the accused may be punished anywhere between 5-20 years in prison. Additionally, if the victim is a teacher or other school personnel, and the offense occurred within a school safety zone, the penalty upon conviction is at least 5 years, but no more than 20 years in prison. Finally, if the aggravated battery is considered to have been committed against a person who has a familial relationship with the accused, he/she could be sentenced anywhere between 3-20 years in prison.

Due to the severity of the penalties for an aggravated battery charge, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable of all possible options for an accused dealing with such serious allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained at defending such charges. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for aggravated battery, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

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 – Pointing a Pistol at Another

Responsible gun ownership requires education and care. In 2020, there were 98 unintentional gun related deaths in Georgia, 33 more than the previous year.[1] In an effort to eliminate these unintentional deaths and protect the public, the Georgia legislature enacted O.C.G.A. § 16-11-102.

The Offense

O.C.G.A. § 16-11-102 makes it a criminal offense to “intentionally and without legal justification points or aims a gun or pistol at another, whether the gun or pistol is loaded or unloaded.”

Proving the element of intent is key in prosecuting this offense. The accidental or unintentional pointing of a weapon at another is not an offense. Parsons v. State, 16 Ga. App. 212 (1915). To aim a weapon at another is to point it intentionally. Livingston v. State, 6 Ga. App. 805 (1909). Intent may be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the pointing. Hawkins v. State, 8 Ga. App. 705 (1911).

This offense is distinguished from the offense of aggravated assault in that if the pointing of a firearm places the victim in reasonable apprehension of immediate violent injury, then the felony of aggravated assault, rather than the misdemeanor of pointing a gun, has occurred.  Overton v. State, 305 Ga. 597 (2019); Savage v. State, 274 Ga. 692 (2002). But, simple assault and pointing a gun or pistol at another are both misdemeanors and included in greater crime of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Morrison v. State, 147 Ga. App. 410 (1978).

Punishment

A conviction under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-102 results in a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine or both. The sentencing judge also has the authority to impose additional terms and conditions such as community service, firearms safety course, etc.

 

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested, 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] https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/congress/ga

Georgia Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit after DUI Arrest

Following a DUI arrest, the State of Georgia has authority to suspend the driver’s license of the accused in a civil proceeding, which is separate from the criminal case, if one of the following occurs:

  1. After the accused has been arrested, the officer on the scene read the accused the correct “Implied Consent” notice and he/she refused to comply with either a breath, blood, or urine test in order to determine his/her blood alcohol content; OR
  2. The accused consented to a breath, blood, or urine test and the results showed that the blood alcohol content of the accused was above the legal limit.

At this time, the accused has a few options. He/she can either appeal the license suspension or install an interlock device in his/her vehicle for the duration of the suspension. However, in this blog we will solely discuss the latter.

INTERLOCK DEVICE

If the DUI arrest mirrored the situation described above in subsection (1), the accused has 30 days from the arrest to install an interlock device in their vehicle AND apply for an interlock device permit with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. The installation of the interlock device must be installed PRIOR to applying for the permit and it must be installed for a period of 12 months. In Georgia, this has become a viable alternative to a license suspension if the accused after a DUI arrest has refused to comply with a breath, blood, or urine sample.

However, not everyone who is arrested with a DUI will be eligible to install an interlock device in their vehicle as an alternative to a license suspension. The following must pertain to the accused in order for the accused to be eligible to install an interlock device in their vehicle:

  • Must have a Georgia driver’s license;
  • Be 21 years or older;
  • Have no other active license revocations or suspensions; and
  • No previous DUI convictions in the last five years.

Additionally, if the accused meets any of the following criteria, he/she is not eligible for an interlock device:

  • Drivers with out-of-state licenses;
  • Drivers with an ALS suspension in the previous five years;
  • Drivers whose DUI case involved an accident with serious injury or death;
  • CDL drivers, unless the license is downgraded to non-commercial during the suspension.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we understand that there are grave consequences following a DUI arrest, including the possibility of a license suspension. Therefore, our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients and we work tirelessly to advocate for them. Therefore, if you have been arrested for a DUI and are potentially facing a license suspension, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Conversion Arrest in Georgia

In Georgia, like other theft offenses, a theft by conversion charge can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property converted. According to § O.C.G.A. 16-8-4, theft by conversion occurs when a person lawfully obtains another individual’s funds or property and then unlawfully converts such property to his/her own use.

In order to convict an accused for theft by conversion, the elements of the offense must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused lawfully obtained funds or property of another;
  • The funds or property were obtained by an agreement between the accused and the owner;
  • The agreement required that the accused used the funds/property for a particular purpose;
  • However, instead, the accused knowingly converted the property for his/her own use.

Value of Property

In determining whether the theft by conversion charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the property converted. In Georgia, funds or property valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the property in question is valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.

In these types of cases, the value of the property is determined by properly measuring the fair cash market value either at the time and place of the alleged theft or any stage during the receipt or concealment of the property in question.

Defenses

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assert affirmative defenses to either request a reduction in the penalties of a theft by conversion conviction or receive a dismissal of all charges. Thus, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations.

Such affirmative defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of intent;
  • Consent;
  • Accused used the property as intended;
  • Innocence;
  • Intoxication, if it negates intent;
  • Charges should be reduced, because the property value was less than the prosecution alleged.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by conversion, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious offense. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by conversion, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Deception Arrest in Georgia

According to § O.C.G.A. 16-8-3, theft by deception occurs when a person obtains property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. However, deceitful means does not include statements of exaggeration that are unlikely to deceive the rightful owner or false statements as to matters that have little to no financial significance.

Some examples of theft by deception include, but are not limited to:

  • Billing someone for a job that an accused did not complete;
  • Making false statements to persuade the rightful owner to let the accused take their property;
  • Selling property when the accused knew that there was a lien/ some other loan attached to it.

Value of Property

In determining whether the theft by deception charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the property stolen. In Georgia, goods or property valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the property or goods in question are valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.

Defenses

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assert affirmative defenses to either request a reduction in the penalties of a theft by deception conviction or receive a dismissal of all charges. Thus, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations.

Some affirmative defenses to theft by deception include, but are not limited to:

  • Actual innocence;
  • Lack of intent;
  • Future payment: In Elliott v. State, 149 Ga. App. 579 (1979), the court found that the accused could not be convicted for theft by deception when he arranged to pay for the goods in question by making a promise to the rightful owner of future payment. The court found that there was no theft by deception, because there was no false representation made, the accused made a good faith promise of future payment;
  • Charges should be reduced, because the property value was less than the prosecution alleged;
  • Continuous criminal act: if the prosecution alleges that multiple items were stolen; an experienced criminal defense attorney could instead argue that the string of thefts constituted only one continuous crime. This would reduce the number of counts of theft that the State of Georgia has brought forward against the accused, and likely, will reduce the sentencing of such a charge.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by deception, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious offense. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by deception, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Taking Arrest in Georgia

In Georgia, a theft charge can encompass either misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on the value of the goods or property in question. If you have been arrested for theft, you could be charged with any of the following: theft by taking, theft by deception, theft by conversion, theft by shoplifting, and so on. However, the most commonly charged theft that appears in Georgia is theft by taking. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2, theft by taking occurs when a person unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which property is taken or appropriated. Typically, this occurs when the property is taken without the knowledge of the victim at the time of the alleged offense.

Value of Goods

In determining whether the theft by taking charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the goods/property, which were allegedly stolen, taken, and/or appropriated. Property or goods valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the goods in question are valued at a price greater than $500, the State of Georgia could charge you with a felony offense.

Penalties

In misdemeanor theft by taking cases, a conviction could result in no more than a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, following a felony theft by taking conviction, a judge could sentence you between 1-10 years in prison.

Due to the severity of the punishment for a theft by taking conviction, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend these allegations by either getting the charges dismissed by bringing forth defenses to such allegations or requesting a reduction in the penalty of such charges.

Defenses

Here are some common defenses for theft by taking cases in Georgia:

  • There was no theft;
  • Acted under an honest claim of right or ownership of property;
  • Charge should be reduced depending on the value of the goods and amount taken;
  • There was no intent to steal;
  • The accused was unaware that the property was of another;
  • The intention was to borrow the item, not to steal it;
  • Intoxication, if it negates the intent element.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by taking, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by taking, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Shoplifting Arrest in Georgia

In Georgia, a theft by shoplifting charge can be prosecuted in municipal court, state court, or even superior court. The State of Georgia may allege that the accused violated a city municipal ordinance, a law in which the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, or in more serious cases, a felony.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14, theft by shoplifting occurs when a person, working alone or with others, takes merchandise without paying for it and with the intent to either deprive the owner of any part of the value of the item or to appropriate the item for their own use.

When committing the offense of theft by shoplifting, it can occur in many different forms:

  • Concealing the goods;
  • Altering the price tag;
  • Transferring the item from one container to another;
  • Switching the price tag from another item to the item in question; or
  • Wrongfully causing the price to be less than the original price stated.

Value of Goods/ Property

In determining whether the theft by shoplifting charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the stolen goods. In Georgia, property or goods valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the goods in question are valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.

Furthermore, the State of Georgia can prosecute an accused for a felony offense if he/she allegedly stole items from three different stores in the same county, within seven days of each other, if the cumulative value of the goods stolen exceeds $500. Additionally, an accused’s criminal history of past theft may impact his/her sentencing or punishment.

Penalties

In misdemeanor theft by shoplifting cases, a conviction may result in no more than a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, following a felony theft by shoplifting conviction, a judge could sentence you between 1-10 years in prison. As stated above, past criminal history plays a role in penalties following a conviction for theft by shoplifting.

Due to the severity of the punishment, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend these charges by either getting them dismissed by bringing forth affirmative defenses to such allegations or requesting for a reduction in the penalty of such charges.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by shoplifting, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by shoplifting, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.