Most teens encounter opportunities to use illegal drugs or use prescription drugs recreationally at some point during high school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all high schoolers have used marijuana at some point. Close to two out of every ten high school seniors have abused prescription medications that weren’t their own as well.
Getting caught with a controlled and dangerous substance (CDS) in Georgia doesn’t have a set penalty. Grouped into five distinct categories, each substance aligns with a different range when it comes to sentencing. What’s important to know is that the amount of the substance matters gravely. You may also find yourself in the same amount of trouble for having the ingredients to create and manufacture drugs in your possession.
The five schedules of drugs
Georgia organizes CDS around both the likelihood for abuse and how much use the drug has medically. The charge for possession of any CDS is a felony in all cases except for less than an ounce of marijuana. Georgia treats that level of possession for that specific drug as a misdemeanor. The penalty length depends on the drug, the amount in your possession, and whether you have any priors.
- Schedule I Drugs – these have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Examples are MDMA, Ecstasy, LSD, Heroin, and Mushrooms. Marijuana goes in this category at the federal level, however Georgia addresses it differently if they find less than an ounce in their possession. Penalties include anywhere between 2-15 years in jail for a first offense. For less than an ounce of marijuana, the penalty is typically some combination of a year in jail, a $1000 fine, and a year of community service.
- Schedule II Drugs – these have a high potential for abuse as well as some accepted medical use. Oftentimes, these prescription drugs are not used by the intended person for the specified reason. Examples include Amphetamines, Codeine, Cocaine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Ketamine, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Penalties are the same as with schedule I drugs.
- Schedule III Drugs – drugs in this category have less potential for abuse, but they’re often very easy to become psychologically dependent upon. Used primarily for medical purposes, they’re also easy to obtain. Examples are drugs like anabolic steroids and certain barbiturates. A first-offense penalty can be anywhere from 1-5 years jail.
- Schedule IV and V Drugs – these also carry a penalty of up to five years in jail, but include drugs with the lowest potential for abuse. Schedule IV drugs consist of medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien, while Schedule V medications are typically stuff available over the counter like cough syrup.
Possession of drug-related objects in Georgia is typically a misdemeanor charge, which carries a penalty of up to 12 months in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. Anything that hides or conceals, grows or cultivates, stores or packages, or facilitates the use of drugs gets grouped into this category.
Caught at school
Most schools have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to illegal substances on campus. Suspension is common if your child does get caught. You can check your school’s handbook for the exact consequences as well as information on how to appeal the suspension. If expelled, make sure to talk with the school to see if anything can be done that would allow them back. Whatever happens, keep written records of everything.
Caught by police
A police officer can stop and search an individual if they have reasonable suspicion. They don’t have to see you using a drug to pull you over.
Likewise, if stopped for a traffic violation and the officer suspects you have drugs in the vehicle, you can be searched. In order for a search to be valid, police must inform you why you’re being searched and what they expect to find before the search begins. Whether or not they need a warrant depends on each individual circumstance.
If drugs or any paraphernalia are discovered, you will get arrested. Ask the police officer why an arrest is taking place if they don’t tell you, but be calm and polite. An arrest doesn’t equal a charge, so it’s important to not panic. You can be held up to 24 hours without a charge, and you may still be let go without one being formally made.
How a qualified attorney can help
With a knowledgeable lawyer on your side, your options increase should you be arrested and charged with possession of a CDS. Because these substances are illegal no matter what your age, it’s important to consult an attorney at the first sign of trouble. This ensures you receive proper guidance and support for your case.
With a free consultation from The Patterson Cozzo Law Firm, you’ll connect with a capable lawyer. They will carefully evaluate your case before offering advice on how to reach the best possible outcome. If your teen finds themself in trouble as a result of illegal or prescription drugs, we can help. Call today to schedule your free consultation.