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Prosecutors in Atlanta and Immigration officials take drug-related crimes seriously. Even minor drug charges, including possession of marijuana, can lead to severe consequences. For immigrants, convictions for drug crimes often lead to deportation and always will prevent entry to the U.S. or admission as a legal resident.

We can protect you in Federal or Georgia Courts against Controlled Substance Offenses

If convicted for controlled substance type offenses, it is a serious violation of immigration laws. Inadmissibility and deportation are very likely.

Georgia is one of the toughest states for drug sentencing. Federal sentencing remains harsh on drug distribution offenses, especially when involving a weapon.

While more courts are recognizing the need for an alternative sentence other than prison for non-violent drug charges, possession of small amounts of most drugs is still considered a felony offense.

For a U.S. citizen, a felony offense can prevent job opportunities, the right to carry a weapon, suspend your driving privileges, prevent student loans or other financings, foreclose housing benefits, revoke professional licensing, and many, many other consequences. For a non-U.S. citizen, you will be deported for any drug offense conviction, other than one (1) misdemeanor incident of Possession of Marijuana < 1 Ounce, and you will never be lawfully admitted to the U.S. (again). Even one (1) misdemeanor Possession < 1 Ounce conviction will make you inadmissible to the U.S. upon re-entry. Only some will qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.

No one should take criminal charges lightly, as the impact of a conviction will last well into the future. An Atlanta drug lawyer can help you build your defense. Call today to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney in Georgia.

We have litigated over 800 hundred felony drug cases with much success, preventing countless deportations. STERN Law has the expertise to successfully defend against federal or Georgia criminal charges and protect your immigration status.

Defending Against Drug-Related Charges

The best defense for a drug-related crime will vary depending on the facts. The following are common defense strategies:

  • The drugs do not belong to the defendant, are within equal access to others, or are present without knowledge or intent
  • The police engaged in an illegal search or seizure to collect their evidence
  • The drugs serve a medicinal purpose
  • The State lacks the evidence necessary to convict
  • Entrapment
  • Lack of intent to distribute

Sometimes a strong defense will lead to the prosecutor dropping all charges. Other times the best move will be to work to reduce the charges. Some defendants may have the opportunity to enter drug court, which may involve addiction treatments and the ability to get the State to drop the charges.

Drug court is only an option for individuals who meet specific criteria, and no one with previous violent crimes will qualify. An Atlanta criminal defense lawyer will review the facts to tailor a strategy that works for people.

Drug Schedules in Georgia

Not all drugs are considered equal for the purposes of drug-related criminal charges in Georgia. The law divides drugs into five schedules, with less severe substances falling into Schedule V and the most severe substances categorized as Schedule I. Schedule I drugs include those not used in medicine and that carry a high risk of abuse.

Heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD are Schedule I substances. While small amounts of medical marijuana are legal in Georgia, Marijuana is still a Schedule I substance. Schedule V drugs include medications that carry only a low risk of abuse.

The legal penalties are worse for individuals caught possessing or selling drugs that the law views as more dangerous. There are certain exceptions for marijuana, and a drug attorney in Atlanta can help explain the penalties as they apply to each case.

POSSESSION OF DRUGS

A conviction for most drug possession offenses violates immigration laws, causing deportation and/or inadmissibility.

For the first possession of drugs, you may be eligible for conditional discharge sentencing. If your drug attorney negotiates a sentence involving conditional discharge, you will not have a conviction on your Georgia criminal history record so long as you successfully complete the terms of your sentence. However, beware that under federal immigration law, this is a criminal conviction!

For a non-U.S. citizen, you will be deported for any drug offense conviction, other than one (1) misdemeanor incident of Possession of Marijuana < 1 Ounce, and will never be lawfully admitted to the U.S. (again). Even one (1) misdemeanor < 1 Ounce conviction will make you inadmissible to the U.S. upon re-entry. Only some will qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.

Possessing Schedule I or II drugs can result in anywhere from two to fifteen years in prison for a first-time offender. The penalties increase for individuals with multiple convictions on their records. A person convicted two or more times may face a prison term ranging from five to 30 years.

The sentencing is less severe when a person illegally possesses Schedule III, IV, or V substances. A penalty in first-time offenses for these drugs will range between one and five years in prison, while subsequent convictions result in between one and ten years.

Federal felony drug crimes may also be considered “aggravated felonies,” meaning that they are mandatory deportable offenses for non-citizens. Between the immigration risks and the potential sentencing of decades in prison, it will be vital for suspects to seek counsel from an experienced criminal immigration defense lawyer.

You want an experienced CrImmigration Attorney to overcome your charges and avoid conviction. Potential defenses require a deep knowledge of the law and police practices. STERN Law has litigated hundreds of felony drug cases with much success, preventing countless deportations.

Possession of Controlled Substances

GA Code § 16-13-30 (2016) Criminalizes the possession and intended distribution of up to 28 grams of any controlled substance, including (but not limited to):

Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, MDMA Ecstasy, LSD, Heroin, and controlled prescription drugs.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to the state site. Please check the official sources.

Distribution and Trafficking Offenses

A conviction for most drug distribution and trafficking offenses will violate immigration laws as an “Illicit Drug Trafficking Aggravated Felony Offense”, causing mandatory deportation and permanent inadmissibility to the United States.

Believe it or not, it is possible to receive a life sentence in prison if convicted of two or more drug distribution offenses regardless of the amount of drugs involved. If this is coupled with at least 3 prior felony convictions, the sentence is not eligible for parole. Thousands of people spend decades or entire lifetimes in prison for a non-violent offense.

If weapons were involved in your case or you have prior felony convictions, judges and prosecutors are more likely to increase sentences because of these.

It is critical that you hire an experienced lawyer who has fought the government in protecting clients from serious drug convictions. STERN Law has the expertise to successfully defend your criminal case and immigration status.

Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute Drugs

GA Code § 16-13-30 (2016) Criminalizes the possession with intent to distribute of up to 28 grams of any controlled substance, including (but not limited to):

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Heroin and controlled prescription drugs

Trafficking Controlled Substances

While the sentences for possession are steep, charges for other more serious drug crimes may lead to even harsher consequences. Trafficking Schedule I or II drugs can lead to a 30-year prison sentence. Trafficking drugs that fall into other Schedules can still lead to ten years in prison.

Charges for drug trafficking may follow when police find large amounts of a drug. Sometimes determining the actual quantity of certain substances is a challenge because of the purity of a drug or the means of transportation and storage.

Drug trafficking offenses are highly complex cases. The defense requires specialized knowledge in the area of drug trade operations and skilled consideration when dealing with co-defendants or confidential informants.

GA Code § 16-13-31 (2016)

Trafficking generally involves the distribution of 28 grams or more of a controlled substance. Each trafficking charge requires individual statutory analysis to determine which sentence applies, but most offenses carry either 5, 15, or 25-year mandatory sentences (without the possibility of probation or sometimes parole) depending on the weight and purity of the drugs.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to the state site. Please check the official sources.

Hire an Atlanta Drug Attorney Today

Drug crimes can lead to long sentences and other legal penalties. If you are struggling with drug-related charges, there may be available defenses. It is important for immigrants to find a lawyer who understands the unique implications of drug crimes for non-citizens.

An Atlanta drug lawyer can work with you to protect your rights and seek a positive outcome in your case. Calling an attorney is the best way to safeguard your future.

You deserve to be represented by the first 100% CrImmigration Law Firm in the country

As the first and only law firm that remains 100% committed to the defense of non-U.S. citizens through criminal and immigration law exclusively, we know you best. We know what success looks like for you… You will work with a team committed to the education of their community, their colleagues and themselves.

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