Possession of Marijuana


If you are charged with Possession of Marijuana in Georgia, call one of the experienced Marijuana Possession defense attorneys at The Nelson Law Group law firm in Augusta GA. Possession of Marijuana is not a straightforward offense. It can carry a penalty of anywhere from 1 to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000. 


Possession of Marijuana can be charged as a felony charge or a misdemeanor. Possession of an amount under an ounce that is not packaged up into individual units for retail sale is usually charged as a misdemeanor (up to 12-months in jail) when it can be demonstrated that the quantity was solely for personal use. Because anything over an ounce may carry the impression of drug dealing and associations with organized crime, the penalties can be much higher.


Defenses to Marijuana Possession Charges 

There are cases where someone can be vindicated under the law in common sense scenarios. These would include situations where marijuana is hidden somewhere in a vehicle and there is no fingerprint evidence on the bag itself linking the occupant above the seat to the drugs.

In another situation, a person may have had an occupant whom he does not know very well drop a small quantity of marijuana in the back seat when the driver gave her a ride. If the driver can reasonably convince police that he does not use drugs by offering to take a drug test and that a passenger may have left it there, this could be grounds for dismissing the case. The only question of law defense may be unlawful search and seizure. If it can be proven that there was no reason for the police to search your home or vehicle for drugs from the get-go, or that the warrant was defective for some reason, then the drug or other evidence could be suppressed (thrown out) by the judge, and there would be no, or less, evidence against you. Those fruits of the poisoned tree that violated your Fourth Amendment rights would not be allowed to be used against you.


Unfortunately, U.S. Supreme Court cases like Terry v. Ohio, have whittled down the standards for searching a suspect vehicle without a warrant. At one time, the standard for searching a vehicle required more than just a hunch but objective evidence that would be sufficient probable cause for an arrest. Now, the police can pull anyone over and detain them long enough for them to conduct a preliminary investigation based upon the highly subjective theory of reasonable suspicion. This can be anything from talking too fast, tapping your finger and looking nervous, or refusing to make eye contact with the officer. While these erosions of civil rights are intrusive and can be unfair to people who expect privacy, they are a far cry from the extortion and planting of drugs in vehicles that can be found in some less developed countries where police extort bribes in exchange for letting you go.


Non-Defenses for Marijuana Possession in Georgia 

Marijuana charges in Augusta can be very serious. The unfortunate reality is that even medical marijuana users or users of THC oil with a certain percentage of the drug can be thrown in prison for products that they legally obtained and used in another state. Medical marijuana and high potency THC oil is not recognized as legal nor a defense in Georgia. Only a Marijuana Possession defense attorney can help you qualify for relief from the serious consequences of a lifelong criminal record and prison time.


Simply claiming that the marijuana belongs to a passenger in a situation where you would reasonably be aware that it was in your vehicle is not a defense. If you had knowledge that someone entered your vehicle with marijuana, that is grounds for guilt. Under a theory of constructive possession. Furthermore, it is not a defense if you say that you did not know whether a substance was marijuana or not. Some people may claim that they believed the marijuana was a popular herbal blend marijuana-alternative that they received from a friend.


The case law appears to turn upon the test of the judges putting themselves in the position of the defendant in any situation and asking whether a reasonable person would be aware of marijuana use. This method was used to find fault in a homeowner whose son was having selling marijuana to a steady stream of customers from the house as well as the fact that the homeowner not being surprised when police opened a safe in her son’s bedroom and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia. In addition, there was a presumption that defendant, as the owner and resident of the house, had control of the marijuana found inside. Kirchner v. State, 322 Ga. App. 275, (2013).


Because it is hard to not notice the odor of marijuana in places where it is being smoked and even more difficult to prove that you acquired an herbal substance without knowing it was marijuana, possession charges can be very hard to fight. For this reason, you often need an experienced attorney to present mitigating evidence during the penalty phase or to make a deal for diversion programs. And if you plan on using marijuana again after your arrest, you should consider relocating to another state where the laws are more hospitable rather risking your life and liberty in Georgia.


Marijuana Possession Penalties 

There are different hidden elements of the law to divert the consequences of marijuana charges in Augusta for first-time offenders. There are a number of flexible measures such as diversion programs and conditional discharge that will allow you to have the conviction removed from your record upon successful completion of your sentence.

The law in Georgia has changed regarding suspension of driver’s licenses for Violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (VGCSA). These are the set of laws under which you are charged with you are charged with a drug offense, including Possession of Marijuana. Because of the change in the law, many types of drug convictions in Georgia will no longer suspend your driver’s license. However, convictions for DUI under the influence of Marijuana as well as the commission of felony drug offenses in which a motor vehicle was used may suspend your license.


Contact Us 

Contact the defense attorneys at The Nelson Law Group in Augusta, Georgia when you find yourself on the wrong end of the law. We handle drug crimes and can use experts to dispute the quantities. We question police who claim that they had probable cause or reasonable suspicion to pull you over and search your vehicle. Let us find the cracks in their stories and hold them to the letter of the law if they are found incredulous. Call us at (706) 434-8770 or email us today for a free consultation.