Arrest for Trafficking at Hartsfield Jackson Airport

If you or a loved one is arrested for Trafficking in Clayton County at the Atlanta airport, 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 Clayton County District Attorney has a dedicated division to prosecute cases involving Trafficking case. They will vigorously prosecute you if you are transport drugs through the airport.
Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Drug charges are aggressively prosecuted in Clayton County.

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 Trafficking at the airport in Clayton County.
1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases in Clayton County. 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 proclaim your innocence to the police at the airport. 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 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
a. Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession.
b. 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.
c. 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 trafficking at the airport in Clayton County.
1. Never talk to law enforcement or the Clayton County District Attorney’s office without an attorney.

If you are arrested for trafficking at the airport in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine or any other illegal drug in Clayton County, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999. 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.

Trafficking at Airport

Trafficking marijuana or cocaine at the Atlanta airport is a serious offense.  Our law firm has successfully handled hundreds of these cases in Clayton County.  The first step in successfully handling these cases is knowing the law.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation that we see often in our drug trafficking cases from the Atlanta airport.  Hypothetically speaking, John Passenger arrived in the Atlanta airport on  a flight from the Dominican Republic. After disembarking, he did not follow the other passengers but began wandering aimlessly in the seating area next to the gate. Two Clayton County police officers, Officer Slammer and Officer Book’em, had been informed that John Passenger would be on the flight. The officers were dressed in plain clothes, with no weapons visible. They approached John Passenger from behind, and one officer said, “Excuse me, sir, I’m a police officer. Can I talk to you for a minute?” John Passenger turned and responded, “Yes,” in English, but when the officers asked him if he spoke English, he smiled and responded in English that he did not. John Passenger told the officers, through an interpreter, that he was in Atlanta for personal reasons and that he was employed as a construction worker. Officer Slammer asked to see the palms of John Passenger’s hands, and he saw that they were smooth and free of calluses. At this point, John Passenger began to appear very nervous; his hands shook and he began to sweat.

Officer Slammer explained to John Passenger that he was a narcotics officer; he asked permission to search John Passenger and his luggage, but John Passenger agreed to a search of his person only and not of his luggage. When asked why he was hesitant to allow his luggage to be searched, John Passenger replied that it contained X-rated material and women’s lingerie and that he would be embarrassed by a search. Agent Officer Book’em asked if John Passenger would rather have a drug sniffing dog check the luggage for narcotics, and John Passenger said that he would rather have a dog check the luggage. They proceeded to baggage claim, where the defendant’s bag was located.

Agent Officer Slammer called for a dog from the Tri-City Narcotics Unit. He also told John Passenger he was not under arrest. The K-9 unit arrived less than 15 minutes later, and the agents arranged for the dog, named K-9 Drug Dog, to check a line of four bags, including John Passenger’s luggage.  K-9 Drug Dog alerted to John Passenger’s bag. The officers again asked John Passenger if he would agree to a search of the bag. John Passenger responded that he would agree only if he could do the search himself, but the officers did not agree to this proposal. Officer Slammer then ordered John Passenger detained. The officers took him and the bag to the narcotics office, where Agent Espana, who spoke Spanish, informed John Passenger of his Miranda rights. The officers obtained a search warrant for the bag. Inside, they found five kilos of cocaine.

This hypothetical was taken from a real case.  Clearly, John Passenger did not adequately protect his rights in that he agreed to allow a k-9 dog at the Atlanta airport to do a free air sniff around his bag.  Second, he agreed to go with officers to allow the K-9 to sniff his luggage.  Lastly, he agreed to allow officers to search his bag without a warrant.  Obviously, even if you are not trafficking drugs at the airport, you should always protect your rights and never consent to a search unless it is requested by TSA for security purposes in order for you to fly.  Secondly, you should always be polite and respectful of law enforcement when you decline to permit them to search your luggage or walk with them to a location you do not want to go.  If they tell you you are under arrest then obviously comply with their commands.

One hopes a bad thing will not happen to you as you are travelling through Atlanta’s International Airport, but sometimes bad things happen to unassuming innocent people.  If you find that law enforcement has charged you with Trafficking Cocaine or Trafficking Marijuana at the Atlanta airport by searching your luggage and finding drugs, it is important that you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent you if you are charged with this offense. The lawyers at our law office are experienced at defending these types of crimes and will work tirelessly to discover defenses in your case and protect you from these severe punishments. Call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

My loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, what happens now?

Everyone arrested for a felony within Fulton County will be taken to the Fulton County Jail or Rice Street to be booked in. After someone is booked, they will be scheduled for First Appearance, typically the next day. The purpose of First Appearance is to inform you of the charges and set a bond. First Appearance is heard by a Magistrate Court judge.

There are four factors that the judge will consider when setting or denying a bond. The factors are that the accused 1) is not a risk of fleeing the jurisdiction or failing to appear in court, 2) doesn’t pose a significant danger to any person or the community, 3) isn’t a risk of committing a new felony, and 4) is not a threat to intimidate witnesses or otherwise obstruct justice. The judge will also take the person’s criminal history, any history of failing to appear in court, and the nature of the allegations into account when considering bond. Bond may be denied based on the type of charge. There are certain crimes – e.g. murder, armed robbery, sex crimes, etc. – that can only be heard by a Superior Court judge.

If bond was denied and your loved one is still incarcerated, they are entitled to a preliminary or probable cause hearing. This is when the State has to bring witnesses to prove the allegations by a probable cause standard or that there is a reasonable belief that the accused committed the alleged act. It is very important to have an experienced advocate to cross-examine and challenge the State’s witnesses and evidence.

If your loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, please give us a call at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Trafficking Marijuana in Dekalb County

If you are arrested for marijuana in Dekalb County, your case will be prosecuted in Dekalb County Superior Court. The penalties you could possibly face if convicted depend on how much marijuana you have with you at the time of your arrest.

Georgia regulates marijuana through the Georgia Controlled Substance Act and O.C.G.A. §16-13-1(a)(1) says that marijuana is a controlled substance. The Georgia codes that specifically regulate marijuana crimes are O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30(j) and O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(c). The statutes say that “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, have under his or her control, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with intent to distribute marijuana”. The penalties an individual faces for possessing marijuana depend on the quantity of marijuana and could range from a simple fine to up to 15 years in prison.

If you are caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $1000 and/or a year in jail. If you are caught with more than an ounce but less than 10 pounds of marijuana, you face a felony conviction and 1-10 years in prison.

However, for higher amounts of marijuana the penalties are severe. If you possess marijuana in excess of 10 pounds, you will be charged with trafficking marijuana and the penalties depend on the amount you possess:

  • If you are arrested with 10-2,000 pounds of marijuana, you will be charged with felony trafficking and face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
  • If you are arrested with 2,000-10,000 pounds of marijuana, you will be charged with felony trafficking and face a mandatory minimum of 7 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • If you are arrested with more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana, you will be charged with felony trafficking and face a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

As you can see, the penalties for trafficking marijuana are steep. It is important that you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent you if you are charged with this offense. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith are experienced at defending these types of crimes and will work tirelessly to discover defenses in your case and protect you from these severe punishments. Call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

Forsyth County Drug Trafficking Attorney

The war on drugs is alive and well in the Georgia criminal justice system. You may be surprised the amounts of each drug that Georgia law considers to be Drug Trafficking. While selling drugs of any kind is against the law and considered a felony, there is a threshold for each drug that will bump the case into drug trafficking. Drug trafficking has significantly harsher penalties than a simple Possession charge or even Possession with Intent to Distribute. Drug trafficking also can make obtaining a bond more difficult at the onset of the case because only a Superior Court Judge can grant bond in these situations. This can be an issue since the first Judge people typically see after arrest is a Magistrate Judge at First Appearance, and Magistrate Judges do not have authority to grant a bond in Drug Trafficking cases in Georgia. In some courts, Magistrate Judges “sit in designation” and can in fact handle bond hearings for trafficking charges. If this is not the case, attorneys must request a hearing by a Superior Court Judge in order to request a bond.

 

What is considered drug trafficking?

Simply possessing the following amounts will be considered Drug Trafficking under Georgia law, even if there is no evidence of selling or delivering it.

Methamphetamine: 28 grams or more

Heroin: 4 grams or more

Cocaine: 28 grams or more

Marijuana: 10 pounds

 

How much time am I facing if I am charged with Drug Trafficking in Forsyth County?

The short answer is it depends. Each drug and amount has a different mandatory minimum sentence. For example, if you have anywhere between 28 grams and 200 grams of cocaine, Georgia law requires a sentence with a minimum 10 years and $200,000 fine. Those numbers go up with every amount over 200 grams.

If you are charged with trafficking marijuana in Georgia, and the amount seized was somewhere between 10 pounds and 2,000 pounds, it is a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $100,000 fine.  Similarly, these numbers will also go up for every amount over 2,000 pounds.

See O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31 for all mandatory minimum sentencing according to type of drug and amount seized. There is a lot of negotiation that can occur in these cases to avoid mandatory minimum sentencing.

 

There are defenses to Drug Trafficking in Georgia

Drug trafficking cases typically implicate the Fourth Amendment more than any other type of case. Each of us has a Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures. Each case is different and must be carefully analyzed in terms of whether the police officers acted lawfully in the search and seizure of the drugs. For example, if the officers had no right to enter your trunk or your safe in the closet, the drugs and case can be thrown out. Likewise, if the search warrant is not valid, or they did not get a warrant, this is another defense to getting the drugs suppressed or excluded.

Drug trafficking in Georgia and in Forsyth County carries significant sentences, and the legal motions must be filed very early on in the case in order to preserve the issue and allow us to argue the suppression of the drugs. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with Drug Trafficking in Forsyth County, reach out today for a FREE CONSULTATION with the experienced lawyers of W. Scott Smith by calling 404-581-0999.

Marijuana Offenses in Georgia

There are several ways the State can charge you with marijuana offenses in Georgia:

  • Possession of Less Than an Ounce– If you are arrested with less than an ounce of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalty includes up to a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.
  • Possession of More Than an Ounce– If you are arrested with more than an ounce of marijuana, you will be charged with a felony. The penalty is 1-10 years and a fine.
  • Possession With Intent to Distribute– If you are arrested with marijuana and the State can prove that you intended to distribute the marijuana, they can charge you with possession with intent to distribute. The intent part of the charge requires proof by the State, but they can prove you intended to distribute the marijuana by bringing in witnesses to testify or with other evidence such as scales or packaging material. If you are found guilty of possession with intent to distribute, the first offense carries a possible prison sentence of 1-10 years. A second or subsequent offense carries a mandatory 10 years in prison and up to 40 years.
  • Trafficking Marijuana– If you are arrested with more than 10 pounds of marijuana, you will be charged with trafficking marijuana. The State only has to prove that you knowingly possessed the marijuana, not that you knew the weight of the marijuana. If the weight of the drug is 10-2,000 pounds, the penalty is 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. If the weight of the drug is 2,000-10,000 pounds, the penalty is 7 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If the weight is more than 10,000 pounds, the penalty is 15 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

If you are charged with a marijuana offense, it is important to hire an experienced attorney to help defend you. First, it is important that the search that resulted in the drugs being found did not violate your constitutional rights. Next, the lawyers at W. Scott Smith will explore your possible defenses, such as lack of intent or lack of knowledge. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith have years of experience defending marijuana offenses. If you are charged in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb, Cherokee, Fayette, or Barrow County, call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

What to do if you are arrested for marijuana trafficking at the airport ?

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

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.

Although the above sentences are described as “mandatory minimum prison” sentences, there are a few limited ways in which someone convicted of marijuana 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 marijuana trafficking at Hartsfield-Jackson airport, 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

Our firm can 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 $50,000 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).

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 speak with the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office in an attempt to discuss a resolution. IF a resolution cannot be reached, then we will schedule the case for a motions hearing and jury trial.

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.

 

Marijuana Trafficking at the Atlanta Airport

News reports of airline travel being back to 90 percent of pre-covid flying will lead to more scrutiny at the airport for passengers flying into Atlanta’ s airport.  Atlanta has the world’s largest airport: Jackson-Hartsfield International Airport.  In a discussion I had with a DEA agent, he told me on every flight from California, Arizona, and Colorado there will be a passenger on the flight with a large amount of trafficking marijuana.  Even though Marijuana is legal in some states, it is still illegal in Georgia.  If you get stopped by Clayton County, Drug Enforcement Agents or Atlanta Police, and you are found to be carrying greater than ten pounds of marijuana in your luggage you will be arrested for Marijuana Trafficking and taken to the Clayton County Jail.  In all cases, the first appearance judge will deny you a bond.  On every case our firm has been hired to assist couriers charged with marijuana trafficking in Atlanta, we have been able to get the client a bond in Clayton County.  In order to get a bond, you need to acquire copies of the warrants and incident reports.  The state’s prosecutor in Clayton County will want to run the subject’s criminal history.  Once those items are acquired, you can get a consent bond and bond out of jail.  It is also helpful if the person traveling has money (shows they are a courier and not seller), they fly very infrequently and they were cooperative to law enforcement.  However, people flying should never consent to a search of their luggage, as consent is voluntary and nobody should be subject to search of their person or personal effects such as luggage without a warrant.  If you or a loved one gets charged with marijuana trafficking at the Atlanta Airport, please do not hesitate to call our law office so we can assist with representation.  Our phone number is 404-581-0999.

Trafficking Marijuana through the Atlanta Airport

When a person traveling to Atlanta is charged with trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport the first concern is going to be how to get a bond to get the person charged with trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport out of jail as soon as possible.  Another question is, how much will my bond be for trafficking marijuana?  At our law firm we have handled a number of bond hearings and received consent bonds in Clayton County on trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport.  We believe we have a recipe for success that you can follow in order to get a bond on a trafficking marijuana case.  A bond hearing is where a judge will decide if the person trafficking in marijuana at the Atlanta airport is a good candidate for bond.  The factors a judge will consider on trafficking cases generally include, criminal record or lack of a criminal record, flight risk or whether the person will appear in court when directed, and/or likelihood of committing a new felony offense while out on bond.  Since people who are charged with trafficking in marijuana are generally transient or they generally have out of Georgia ties, the court will be concerned they will not appear in court when the case comes up for additional court dates.  You must be in a position to allay the court’s fears the person charged with trafficking marijuana will in fact appear in court when directed to do so.  A consent bond is where the State’s prosecutor agrees to a bond amount and the defense accepts because the person arrested for trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport feels they can afford the bond amount.

First question for consideration is how much did the Marijuana in the person traveling with marijuana in their suitcase at the Atlanta airport weigh.  If it is less that twenty pounds your chances of getting a lower bond in Clayton County are greater.  Second, did the person traveling have more that $1000 cash on them.  If they did, they are likely a mule.  A mule is someone who is generally destitute or poor and they are so desperate for money that they agree to transport a suitcase or luggage without knowing its contents.  If the person is poor and you can show the prosecutor this evidence and they had a large sum of money (which is consistent with the mule’s fee) the prosecutor is more likely to grant a bond.  Third, do the flight records show a first-time travel for that person on the same flight origination?  If so, this is likely the first time the person traveling with the large amounts of marijuana is flying with marijuana.  If you can show no pattern of travel the State is more likely to consent to a low bond.  The State’s prosecutor and Court will want to know the criminal history of client.  Things of major importance will be does the person have any felonies on their record?  Has the person ever failed to appear in court – even for traffic violations?  Does the person have any violations of probation or parole?  Furthermore, it is important to have a local address in which the person charged with trafficking marijuana will live at while the case is pending.

If you are an attorney trying to acquire a consent bond for trafficking marijuana in Clayton County at the Atlanta Jackson-Hartsfield Airport, here is what you need to do.  Go through the criminal history to have a good handle on what the criminal history provides.  If any discrepancies come up on the persons charged GCIC or NCIC be in a position to pull the official court record to confirm the inaccuracies in the official record.  In our experience this happens way too often.  Second, pull a copy of the incident report.  You will need to make a copy of the incident report and provide a copy to the State’s prosecutor in order to get a quick bond offer.  If client has a passport, obtain the passport and be willing to turn the passport in to law enforcement to hold pending the case’s outcome.  If client is poor, have client provide you access to his or her bank account to show how little amount she has in the account.  If client lives in an apartment or humble residence, have someone take photos of the residence to show the State’s prosecutor client’s simple living arrangements.  If client does not have a local address to live at see if client’s family can acquire a local address.  Lastly, do not have client snitch or become a state witness.  In my experience it serves no purpose as it does not assist in getting a bond.

Drug Trafficking Arrests in Gilmer 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 Gilmer County, Georgia. Why Gilmer County? Gilmer County is a highly populated county adjacent to Fulton that sees a high number of drug trafficking cases on an annual basis. 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.

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