by Mary Agramonte
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?
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 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 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 Georgia, reach out today for a FREE CONSULTATION with the experienced lawyers of W. Scott Smith by calling 404-581-0999.