Echoing similar decisions that have been made by municipality courts throughout Georgia, the City Council of Kingsland recently voted to approve an ordinance that will decrease the severity of penalties associated with the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Some of the other municipalities in Georgia that recently made similar decisions include Atlanta, Clarkston, Forest Park, Fulton County, Savannah, and South Fulton. Some of the reasons why municipality courts have supported these legislative changes are concerns about the risk of racial profiling as well as uneasiness about the black market that exists and teen access to the drug. While these municipality changes are unable to affect Georgia state law, they do have the potential to lower penalties for simple possession of marijuana charges in some parts of the state. It is important to understand what violations you can end up facing if you are charged with simple possession of marijuana.
Penalty in Georgia for Possession of Marijuana
In accordance with Georgia State Annotated Code, if you are convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana in Georgia, you can end up facing $1,000 in fines as well as a prison sentence of up to one year. Additionally, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum period of six months. While this offense is classified as a misdemeanor, acts involving the possession of a larger amount of marijuana are treated as a felony and result in more severe penalties. If the misdemeanor is your first offense, there is also the chance that you might be allowed to participate in a conditional release or diversion program. The conditions that might be associated with these programs include rehabilitation or mandatory medical treatment.
Common Defenses to Small Possession Charges
If you are charged with the possession of a small amount of marijuana, your chances of successfully defending against the charges are often good. Some of the most common defenses that are raised include:
- Arguing that you were not aware that you possessed marijuana. This defense is often raised when a small amount of marijuana is found and the initial charge against a person involves a separate offense.
- Claiming that law enforcement performed an illegal search or stop which led to the discovery of the marijuana. Law enforcement must have a valid basis for performing these searches and stops and if these grounds are not president, the evidence that is found can be ruled as inadmissible in a court of law.
- Some people who faced constructive possession charges claim that they did not actually possess marijuana. As a result, the state is able to establish that a person possessed the drug and the charges are found to be inadmissible.
Speak with a Marijuana Defense Lawyer
Because many places in the state of Georgia still consider offenses involving marijuana to be serious violations, there is a risk that you might end up facing particularly serious penalties. If you or a loved one is charged with a marijuana-related offense in Georgia, you should not hesitate to contact Yeargan & Kert LLC today to schedule an initial free case evaluation.