Drug-Related Objects Law in Georgia
What is Paraphernalia?
By: Larry Kohn, Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney and GA Drugs Lawyer
Georgia and most other states have drug paraphernalia laws that criminalize the possession of any drug-related object that can be used to grow, produce, process, store, ingest, inhale, or inject illegal drugs. These illegal items include, but are not limited to: glass pipes, bongs, packaging materials (bags), digital scales, and syringes.
In the state of Georgia, drug laws are broad, and cover a wide range of seemingly innocent items that someone may use to do drugs or sell drugs such as marijuana or a controlled substance. While the discovery of “pot” paraphernalia by police make up most of the arrests for possession, Georgia drug possession laws also include any item related to substances like crack, cocaine, heroin, or a designer drug or synthetic compound.
Georgia drug penalties depend upon:
- The amount of drugs or drug-related object(s), (possession <1 ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor charge) & (possession >1 oz of marijuana is a felony charge)
- The type of drug (possession of Schedule I, Schedule narcotic II & non-narcotic II, Schedule III, Schedule IV and V drugs are felony charges even for first-time offenses)
- The “knowledge” the person has about the drug-related nature of the item and;
- The number (prior drug convictions, if any).
What Happens When Police Discover Paraphernalia During a Traffic Stop?
During an inventory search of your vehicle, the police may discover a glass pipe with marijuana or crack residue, and add this pipe (or other drug related object) to their ongoing investigation for driving under the influence of drugs. Clues an officer will look for are the smell of marijuana and the condition of your eyes. Are they red and watery? Also, is your speech slurred or does what you say not make sense?
A small percentage of our clients are in possession of paraphernalia when police pull them over. While this evidence can be very troubling, it is in no way an indication of a hopeless case. Many legal challenges can be made against the police search and seizure methods. All of the prosecutor’s evidence against you can be challenged, and the evidence can become inadmissible if the reason for pulling you over was unconstitutional.
The presence of drug-related objects in your car can lead to your arrest for felony drug possession, or possession with intent to distribute. Both charges are extremely serious in the state of Georgia, and you can expect extended jail time if you are found guilty. The time to call Larry Kohn or Cory Yager is now while there is still time to plan a solid defense. Call us anytime day or night at (404) 567-5515 and speak directly to an attorney.
Georgia Drug Related Objects Statutes
O.C.G.A. 16-13-32 (enacted in 1978), and O.C.G.A. 16-13-32.1 (enacted in 1981), make criminal any sale or transaction of a drug-related object a crime, and possession of these same objects a criminal act. The second law specifies “what is drug paraphernalia” and how broad and comprehensive the prohibition of any paraphernalia items or product can be. These drug use items can be adequate evidence of circumstantial evidence of a violation of the GA paraphernalia drug statutes.
This means that if the police find an otherwise lawful (e.g., a 6-inch long piece of ¼” diameter plastic pipe) household item either on your person or in your vehicle, this can be a violation of Georgia law, especially if residue from prior use is discovered. Click here to compare the variances of drug possession charges by state.
What Are the Penalties for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Drug Paraphernalia Offenses in Georgia?
The conviction for a first time drug paraphernalia offense is a misdemeanor, and carries no minimum or maximum jail time or fine.
A second drug paraphernalia conviction is a high and aggravated misdemeanor. Any jail sentence cannot be shortened to less than 26 days of every 30 days of the sentence. For example, a 60-day jail sentence will mean no less than 52 days in jail.
A 3rd paraphernalia conviction carries a sentence of from 1 to 5 years in state prison, plus a fine of not more than $5000. Four or more convictions increase state prison time longer and longer.
Does a Prior Felony Intent to Distribute Drugs Conviction Affect a Pending Drug Paraphernalia Possession Charge?
If you already have a prior intent to distribute felony drug conviction on your criminal record, and you are later arrested for misdemeanor possession of two small bags of marijuana and drug-related objects (drug paraphernalia), and nothing else, such evidence collected by police, without more evidence, will not support a jury verdict of drug possession with intent to distribute.
The following case creates a clear line that a trial judge cannot ignore lack of evidence, and cannot allow a jury to convict you on supposition and conjecture:
Where no additional evidence of intent to distribute is offered, such as scales, drug paraphernalia, large amounts of cash, division of drugs into individual packages, or prior conviction of possession with intent to distribute, expert testimony is critical, and conviction for possession of drugs with intent to distribute cannot be sustained without such evidence. Parris v. State, 226 Ga.App. 854 (1997).
On the other hand, possession of drug paraphernalia (when felony drug quantities are part of the evidence collected) can be a piece of the Prosecution’s case for possession with intent to distribute or drug trafficking. This Georgia appellate case talking about the State trying to establish “constructive possession” of drugs found in the same vehicle as the driver, highlights what types and categories of evidence is sufficient to convict.
Circumstances showing an intent to exercise control over drugs, as required to establish constructive possession, include a defendant’s attempts to flee or elude police; inconsistent explanations by the defendant for his or her behavior; the presence of significant amounts of contraband and drug paraphernalia in plain view; the defendant’s possession of large amounts of cash, other indicia of the sale of drugs, or drug-related paraphernalia; evidence that the defendant was under the influence of drugs; or drug residue found on the defendant. Kier v. State, 292 Ga.App. 208 (2008).
Hire the Best Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Drug Objects Case
Contact our Atlanta criminal defense attorneys Larry Kohn, Cory Yager, or Bubba Head for the best drug paraphernalia defense, in ANY Georgia county. We travel across the state, if needed, to defend citizens who have way too much to lose to put a drug-related objects conviction on their criminal record.
By knowing all plea alternatives to a paraphernalia guilty plea, and being able to present the best option for our client, we can improve our clients’ options in almost EVERY case. Plus, remember that 100% of defendants who face paraphernalia drug charges who plead guilty without a lawyer, are FOUND Guilty.
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Larry Kohn, Cory Yager, and William C. Head are all Super Lawyers who have thousands of successful criminal cases involving drugs and alcohol under their belts. What other criminal defense law firm in Georgia has three partners with over 575 AVVO 5-star ratings? You will discover that our criminal justice law firm has better credentials and more expertise than virtually any other Georgia criminal defense law firm.
Your initial lawyer consultation is FREE. (404) 567-5515 . Since no one PLANS to be arrested, we work with clients on how to cover legal fees and court costs. We offer attorney payment plans, and can explain payment options for you to be able to effectively fight your criminal charges. Regardless of whatever stage of the court proceedings we must pursue, we will discuss the cost in order to achieve the best outcome for you.
If you have been charged with possession of “weed”, possession of drug paraphernalia, or if you are facing this charge in connection with other drug charges, you need to seek legal counsel from an experienced drug crimes defense attorney.
Contact the firm of Kohn & Yager, LLC. today to schedule a free consultation for your case, start the process NOW by clicking the button below.