If you have been arrested on Handling first offense felony possession charges in Georgia you must contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Drug possession, as well as trafficking and distribution, is a very serious offense in the State of Georgia.
Possession of any illegal drug is a felony. The penalties vary depending on the type and amount of drugs involved as well as prior convictions.
- Constructive Possession
If you are accused of drug possession and the police find drugs in your car or house, but they were not found on your person, it is likely that the prosecutor is using a constructive possession charge. This type of case is much more difficult for law enforcement to prove than a traditional actual possession.
In order to prove constructive possession, the State must show that you possessed both knowledge of the presence of the drug and the ability to exercise dominion and control over the drug. This is a very high standard to meet for the prosecution and a lot harder for them to do when there are multiple people in the same area as the drugs.
For example, if you live with roommates and law enforcement finds illegal drugs in your living area, it could be charged as constructive possession because all of you have access to the drugs. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but it illustrates how more than one person can be charged with drug possession when evidence supports the claim.
- Intent to Distribute
When a person is found with large amounts of drugs, the police may suspect that the individual is trying to sell the drug. Georgia law criminalizes a variety of drug possession crimes, including intent to distribute. It is important to have a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with VGCSA and other drug crime statutes in order to craft a strong case to minimize the penalties of the charges.
The State must prove that an individual was in possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. Generally, a large amount of the drug will trigger this assumption and evidence of intent can be found in packaging materials, large sums of money that are consistent with payments for drugs, and paraphernalia such as scales and baggies.
It is one thing to use a drug, but it is another thing altogether to try to give them away. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for those charged with drug offenses and can be punished more severely than simple possession.
- Ownership of the Drugs
In Georgia, it is illegal to possess drugs that are not legally prescribed. A lawyer can help you fight a charge of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Possession of drugs can be “actual” or it can be “constructive.” You don’t have to physically hold the drug in your hand for a police officer to charge you with possession. For instance, drugs found in your glove compartment or on your coffee table can be argued to be in your possession because you had control over them. Even with the knowledge defense, the prosecution will still need to prove that you knew the drugs were in your possession.
The prosecution will look at the amount of drugs and how they are packaged to determine whether your intention was to distribute. They will also consider other items like scales, logbooks and cash to make their determination. Your lawyer can challenge the evidence used to prove these allegations.
- False Arrest
A false arrest involves a detention that unnecessarily restrains one’s liberty. It can be committed by private citizens, as well as police officers. The person whose liberty is violated can sue for monetary damages in a civil rights lawsuit. Unlike some other civil rights claims, false arrest does not require malice or bad faith on the part of the defendant to be found guilty.
Probable cause is a key element of any arrest, and is usually determined by examining the facts and circumstances available to law enforcement officials at the time of the incident. For example, if an officer witnesses a suspect kicking a squad car door so violently that it bends the hinges, probable cause exists to arrest the individual for disorderly conduct and burglary.
However, a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action for false imprisonment also sometimes arises in cases where a warrantless arrest is not supported by probable cause. A claim of false imprisonment can be defeated by an uncontroverted affidavit that the officer’s decision to arrest was made in the exercise of his or her independent judgment and not as the result of exhortations from anyone else.