Drug Trafficking Charges in Athens, GA

Georgia Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking is among the most serious charges a person can face. All drug trafficking charges in Athens, GA, carry significant mandatory minimum sentences.

What Are Drug Trafficking Charges?

Drug trafficking – despite its name – does not mean that you were caught selling drugs. It means that you are accused of possessing a quantity of drugs – marijuana, cocaine, meth, etc., – that is greater than a threshold amount. The threshold amount that qualifies for trafficking depends on the type of drug. Most drug quantities that qualify for trafficking are listed in O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31.

Although every drug crime charge should be considered serious, drug possession charges can sometimes be treated as misdemeanor offenses. For example, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana will be treated as a misdemeanor.

However, having in possession more drugs than an individual would personally use is considered drug possession with intent to distribute. Possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute is a crime that typically results in felony charges and harsh penalties.

The quantity of illegal substances is what makes the difference between these drug charges. To be charged with trafficking in Athens, Georgia, drug crimes have to involve larger amounts of illegal drugs.

What Amount of Drugs Is Considered Trafficking?

Drug trafficking charges imposed under Georgia law differ according to the schedule of drugs involved. The State can bring trafficking charges for possessing as little as 28 grams of cocaine or any mixture with a purity of 10% or more. A typical packet of sugar you might put in your coffee weighs about 4 grams. So you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $200,000.00 fine for having about 7 sugar packets worth of cocaine.  

The threshold amount for trafficking in marijuana is 10 pounds. That’s considered a good bit more than personal use even for folks who might buy in bulk. But remember, the trafficking laws do not distinguish between users and dealers. They care only about the quantity that you have allegedly possessed. And for 10 to 2000 pounds of marijuana, you are facing a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and a $100,000.00 fine. 

How Many Years Do You Get for Trafficking Drugs in Athens, GA?

In Georgia, trafficking penalties depend on the drug involved and the quantity involved. Trafficking meth, cocaine, morphine, or marijuana is punished as follows:

Cocaine

  • 28 – 200 grams = 10 years minimum imprisonment and a $200,000 fine
  • 200 – 400 grams = 15 years minimum imprisonment and a $300,000 fine
  • 400+ grams = 25 years minimum imprisonment and a $1 million fine

Morphine and Heroin

  • 4 – 14 grams = 5 years minimum imprisonment and a $50,000 fine
  • 14 – 28 grams = 10 years minimum imprisonment and a $100,00 fine
  • 28 grams or more = 25 years minimum imprisonment and a $500,000 fine

Methamphetamine

  • 28 – 200 grams = 10 years minimum prison time and a $200,000 fine
  • 200 – 400 grams= 15 years minimum imprisonment and a $300,000 fine
  • 400 grams or more = 25 years minimum imprisonment and a $1 million fine

Marijuana

  • 10 – 2000 pounds = 5 years minimum prison time and a $100,000 fine
  • 2,000 – 10,000 pounds = 7 years minimum imprisonment and a $250,000 fine
  • 10,000+ pounds = 15 years minimum time in jail and a $1 million fine

How Is a Drug Trafficking Charge Proven?

While proof that you distributed or sold drugs can often be part of a drug trafficking case, the State only has to prove that you possessed that drugs. Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that they find the drugs on your person. Additionally, more than one person can be charged for the same quantity of drugs. So it is possible to be charged and convicted of drug trafficking if you and a friend are riding in a vehicle that contains a trafficking amount of drugs in it even if the drugs are not on your person.     

Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges

Several defenses can be used against drug trafficking charges in Athens, GA. Some of the most common defenses include:

Lack of Knowledge

One of the most common defenses against drug trafficking charges is a lack of knowledge. This means that the accused was not aware that they were in possession of a controlled substance or did not know that the substance was illegal.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Law enforcement officers must follow proper procedures when conducting searches for drugs. If it can be proven that the search and seizure were unlawful, any evidence obtained may be thrown out, resulting in a weakened case against the accused.

Entrapment

If it can be proven that law enforcement officers coerced or pressured an individual into committing a crime, this may serve as a defense to drug trafficking charges.

Lack of Intent to Distribute

To prove drug trafficking charges, the prosecution must show that the accused had intent to distribute or sell the drugs. If it can be proven that the accused only possessed the drugs for personal use, this may serve as a defense to drug trafficking charges.

Lab Analysis Errors

Lab analysis is used to determine the type and quantity of drugs present. However, errors can occur during this process, potentially leading to an incorrect determination of the substance being trafficked.

Seek Legal Help for Drug Trafficking Charges in Athens, GA

Being charged with drug trafficking can have severe consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. It is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing these charges.

A skilled attorney will be able to review the details of your case and determine the best course of action for defending against these charges. They may challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution or negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help. Contact a reputable criminal defense lawyer in Athens, GA today to ensure your rights are protected and to receive effective legal representation in court. Remember, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and with the right defense strategy, you could potentially avoid or reduce harsh penalties associated with your drug trafficking crime.

Retain a Defense Lawyer Immediately

Retain the services of a well-respected Athens criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. After an arrest, a lawyer can assess the situation and quickly mount your defense. In addition to a detailed interview with you, we will file an open records request and interview any necessary witnesses. If you don’t already have a bond set, we will file a motion for a bond.