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. 

Has Georgia’s New Hemp Bill, House Bill 213, Caused Issues for Marijuana Prosecutions?

The bill worrying Georgia police.

In 2018 President Trump signed the “Farm Bill” into law. The Farm Bill has a provision that allows states like Georgia to create their own rules, standards, and safeguards regarding the growth, production, processing, and handling of hemp based products. On May 10, 2019 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 213 into law. House Bill 213 creates a standard for Georgians to grow and handle hemp. House Bill 213 also removes hemp from the list of schedule I controlled substances in Georgia.

Okay, hemp’s now legal. So what?

Hemp and marijuana are very similar plants. While they do have distinguishing characteristics, hemp contains a small amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. House Bill 213 provides that the hemp plant can have a concentration of up to .3% THC without violating the law. Most marijuana plants have somewhere between 3-5% THC.

The issue with taking hemp off the controlled substances list in Georgia is that even the most well-trained law enforcement officers can’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. Their test for determining whether a substance is marijuana is a simple reagent test where if there is any THC present in the substance, the test will return a positive. This causes issues in the enforcement of marijuana arrests because, as stated above, hemp contains some THC. So even if an officer stopped you and you had hemp in the vehicle, it would return a positive for marijuana.

If stopped with weed… be smart. Use your rights.

Georgia is currently looking for a solution that will test the percentage of THC in a substance, but until that test exists, we want to remind all readers that it is the law enforcement officers responsibility to find probable cause to arrest you. Don’t just give them your weed. Make them find it. Make them establish that is it actually marijuana and not another substance. Make them prove that the odor of marijuana and not the odor of hemp is what cause them to search your vehicle. It is not your responsibility to do an officers job for them. Make them prove it. While this new change in law may not guarantee your marijuana case is getting dismissed, it could have an impact in its resolution.

Our office is on the forefront of all the changes in drug laws in Georgia. We are here to help you. If you have any questions regarding your rights when it comes to drug offenses in Georgia, call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Possession of Edibles in Georgia

In the past ten years, thanks to the decriminalization and legalization in other states, the possession and consumption of marijuana has changed drastically. Beyond just your typical green leafy marijuana, there are chocolates, gummy bears, hard candies, drinks, waxes, resins, oils, creams, and other substances used to intake THC into your body. 

Misdemeanor or Felony?

In Georgia, possession of green leafy marijuana  is a misdemeanor if you possess under an ounce. Possession of over an ounce of green, leafy marijuana is a felony. But what most people do not know is that possession of any other product that has THC in it that is not green, leafy marijuana is a felony. It doesn’t matter that the edible, weed cartridge, wax or other substance was under an ounce. It doesn’t matter if it was only one brownie, or gummy bear, or cartridge. It’s a felony in violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (VGCSA). On top of that, if the THC is baked into a brownie, or in a beverage, officers use the entire weight of the substance to determine weight, and not just the part of it that has THC in it. These substances are heavy and can hit Possession with Intent and Trafficking levels quickly.

It’s important that you know the laws in Georgia.

Officers are now trained to look for substances beyond green, leafy marijuana. They are looking for cartridges. They are looking for edibles. They are looking for distinct smells given off by concentrated marijuana products. Five years ago we saw very few if any arrests for these weed products. But over the past year, we are seeing more and more clients come in and tell us, “He found my cartridges.” Or “They went looking straight for my wax.”

Our office has been on the forefront of this shift in marijuana products in Georgia. Our team of educated and knowledgeable attorneys can help you find defenses to your felony weed charges. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

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.

Your Case in Municipal Court of Atlanta

There’s no better firm out there for assistance with your upcoming case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta. Our team of highly trained attorneys has been practicing in the Municipal Court of Atlanta building relationships with the prosecutors and judges for as long as they’ve been at 150 Garnett Street.

What does MCOA handle?

The City Court of Atlanta handles almost every traffic citation occurring inside the city limits of Atlanta along with marijuana, shoplifting, and disorderly conduct charges. They also handle all city ordinance charges which involve business license issues, property issues, and some personal citations like disorderly conduct under the influence. There are eleven active courtrooms in the courthouse and most courtrooms have court twice a day.

A case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta has multiple ways it can be resolved. Unlike other municipal courts where your options are guilty or not guilty, the Municipal Court of Atlanta offers pre-trial diversion on a number of traffic and criminal charges, along with other alternative disposition methods if you qualify.

Did you miss court? There might be a warrant out for your arrest? Hiring an attorney may allow you to lift the warrant without appearing in court and risking potential arrest.

Do I need an attorney?

Skilled attorneys can appear in court on your behalf, speed up the process of resolving your charge(s), and negotiate resolutions that a non-attorney may not be able to obtain. It is important that before you resolve your case in the City of Atlanta you give our office a call to discuss potential outcomes and ways we can assist you. The consolation is free, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

by Ryan Walsh

Marijuana at Atlanta Airport

We are one of the top criminal defense law firms in Atlanta.  Our firm defends individuals arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta Airport) charged with Trafficking Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute

Who arrests me at the airport?

The majority of the time someone is arrested in Atlanta after landing the flights are from California to Atlanta, but we have seen flights into Atlanta from all fifty states and other countries.  The law enforcement agencies involved include the Federal Bureau of investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Atlanta Police Department.  The cases usually do not get referred to Federal Court for prosecution but rather get sent to Clayton County Superior Court. 

What will happen after my arrest?

Once arrested for Marijuana Trafficking in Atlanta’s airport the traveler gets taken to the Clayton County Jail located at 9157 Tara Blvd, Jonesboro, Georgia 30236.  The person traveling with large amounts of marijuana through the airport will have bond initially denied.  It takes our law firm approximately two weeks to get an individual on a calendar for bond.  The bond amount depends on the criminal history and the amount of the marijuana.  We have never had a client with just marijuana, no matter the amount of marijuana, denied bond.  Recently we have been able to get clients’ bonds in the amounts ranging from $45,000 – $60,000 for marijuana trafficking through the airport. 

What should I do if approached?

As a reminder, if you are approached by law enforcement in the Atlanta airport be prepared to follow some simple directions. 

  1. Remain calm and always be polite. Assume you are being recorded. Start your own telephone’s audio recording function.
  2. Prepare to hand the officer your driver’s license and your luggage receipt.
  3. You are never required to answer questions. You should respectfully decline and ask for an attorney.
  4. You should decline a consensual search of your luggage. You never know what someone has put in your luggage.
  5. You are free to leave unless you have been detained or placed under arrest.  You are allowed to politely ask the officer if you can leave the airport.
  6. Call us immediately upon being arrested, no matter the time, night or day. 404-581-0999

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

Police Roadblocks

Even the most seasoned motorists may never encounter a police sobriety roadblock or checkpoint during their entire driving history. Nonetheless, you should be armed with information regarding their validity and how to best approach them if you happen to drive towards one.

What is a Roadblock?

            In addition to the above factors,those arrested should urge their attorneys to be aware of local requirements regarding roadblocks, and subpoena all relevant records; although the road block may satisfy federal and state guidelines, it may fail the local arresting agency’s own policies.

            In determining the validity of a police roadblock, our courts analyze the following factors[1]:

  1. The roadblock was implemented pursuant to a checkpoint program that has, when viewed at the programmatic level, an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control;
  2. The decision to implement the specific roadblock in question was made by a supervisor in advance, and not by an officer in the field;
  3. All vehicles that passed through the roadblock were stopped, rather than random vehicle stops;
  4. The delay to motorists was minimal;
  5. The roadblock was well-identified as a possible police checkpoint;
  6. The screening officers staffing the roadblock possessed sufficient training and experience to qualify them to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be subjected to field sobriety testing; and
  7. Under the totality of the circumstances, the stop of the defendant was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

What Should I Do?

            Now that we have seen what constitutes a valid police sobriety roadblock in theory, it is time to put the roadblock scenario into practice. If I see a roadblock coming what do I do? Am I allowed to evade it? The answer is . . . it depends. Drivers who violate a traffic law in order to avoid a police roadblock may be pulled over,arrested for said violation, and may be subject to further investigation by the police. However, drivers are entitled to take legal actions to avoid a roadblock, and police may not stop a driver from doing so, as long as the driver does not commit any traffic violations or other offenses while doing so.

An Example of a Roadblock

            For example, you are driving down a one lane road and you see a valid police roadblock ahead. However, the entrance to your apartment building happens to be 200 feet before the roadblock commences. You execute a legal turn into your apartment complex. A police officer at the roadblock sees you turn into the complex, follows your vehicle,and stops your vehicle. The officer’s hunch that you were avoiding the roadblock because you were intoxicated is, by itself, an insufficient basis to stop your vehicle.[2] As a result, most roadblocks are conducted on remote single lane roads so that an individual would necessarily have to break a traffic law in order to avoid them.

Call Us Today

             If you have 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.

by Casey Cleaver


[1] Brown v. State, 293 Ga. 787 (2013); Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883 (2013); Baker v. State, 252 Ga. App. 695 (2001); LaFontaine v. State, 269 Ga. 251 (1998); Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000).

[2] Jorgensen v. State, 207 Ga. App. 545 (1993).

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.