If you or a loved one has been arrested for a drug offense in Cobb County, DeKalb, Fulton, Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall County, or anywhere else in Georgia, experienced trial attorneys James “Skip” Sullivan and Bob Chestney are available to discuss your case anytime – including after-hours and weekends! Call us today at 404.816.8777
Drug addiction in Georgia can affect careers, family, and friends. We at Chestney & Sullivan empathize as to what you may be going through. Tough addictions such as heroin/opioid abuse can be very difficult to overcome. Inevitably family relationships are affected, careers lost, and criminal charges come about either through possession, sale, or use of illegal drugs, or the side effects of supporting an addiction. We commonly see shoplifting or theft offenses as side effects of addiction. Mr. Sullivan has been acutely aware of this correlation when he was an Assistant District Attorney in Rockdale County. There has also been a disturbing trend in the rapid rise of the use of drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription pain medications that are purchased on the street. Drug charges can have serious consequences and can have real implications for present or future employment opportunities. If you have a commercial driver’s license, a conviction for a drug offense may cost you your CDL and your career! Other professions like nursing, doctors, and pilots may have mandatory reporting requirements if you are charged with a Georgia marijuana or drug offense, let alone shoplifting and theft charges.
How our Georgia Drug Defense Lawyers successfully defend Georgia drug cases:
Two prongs for a successful defense:
- Mitigation. Courts like to see if there is a substance abuse issue (or not) and if there is, whether or not that substance abuse issue is being addressed through counseling and treatment. Any charge that is not outright dismissed by way of winning a motion hearing or trial or by convincing a prosecutor that the drugs were not in possession of our client, is likely to have a substance abuse evaluation/treatment made part of a disposition. A positive drug screen while in a diversion program or on probation can result in probation revocation and possible jail time. Addressing these potential issues while the case is pending is the best way to avoid these issues down the road. These steps also help in negotiations with the prosecution if our clients are proactive.
- Investigate and fight the criminal charges:
There are many ways in which drug cases can be challenged and successfully defended to avoid a criminal conviction:
- Did law enforcement find the illegal drugs lawfully?
- Did a suspect voluntarily consent to a search where the drugs were found?
- If the case involved a traffic stop, was the traffic stop valid?
- Did the police unlawfully prolong a traffic stop in order to conduct a search?
- Did the police get a warrant before a search was conducted?
- Is the search warrant even valid?
- Did other people have equal access to the drugs?
- Was the person charged with a drug offense when that person was merely present where the drugs were located?
- Many more defenses may arise once a thorough investigation by our drug defense lawyers has been completed.
The most common drug offense that we see is by far simple possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce. Although possession of marijuana is legal in some other states (and countries), it is still illegal to possess marijuana in any amount here in Georgia with the exception of some very limited medical purposes. With that said, there are some jurisdictions in Georgia that have given the police the option to decriminalize enforcement of simple possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, like the City of Clarkston. Clarkston’s police have the option of proceeding on a “violation” resulting in a small civil fine or proceeding on a state offense of possession of marijuana. Atlanta’s City Council recently passed a similar measure. Currently, no other jurisdiction in Georgia has followed Clarkston’s and Atlanta’s lead, although there may be some trend towards decriminalization of simple marijuana possession in the future.
Georgia drug statutes also have provisions for first-time offenders. If the first offender statute is offered by the court or prosecution, a defendant charged with a Georgia marijuana or drug offense may avoid a conviction altogether if the terms of a first offender plea are completed successfully. Some jurisdictions even have diversion programs where a dismissal of the drug charges may occur if the terms of the pretrial diversion program are completed successfully. In Cobb County, the courts require that a defendant be represented by a lawyer before entering a pretrial diversion program or drug court.
To build a strong drug defense in Georgia, your experienced drug defense attorney should start by learning everything possible from the information you present. Based on this information, he or she can find more evidence by using specialized resources as needed to determine if the drugs discovered by law enforcement were legal. This determination is the basis for a strong drug defense in Georgia. We have our own in-house investigator that gathers information, videos, 911 calls, possible surveillance videos, police reports, scientific reports, and more. There are times when we use the services of outside labs for testing drugs, to help build a solid drug defense in your case. Our drug defense attorneys analyze a case from the initial stop or reason why the police were involved and look for suppression issues with the admissibility of the drugs along with the admissibility of the state tests used to identify the drugs in question. Our experienced drug lawyers then meet as a team to discuss strategy for preliminary/committal motion hearings and trials. Our team approach is an effective way to ensure we have covered all the bases in defending your Georgia drug case.
Can I just enter a guilty plea myself and avoid hiring an experienced drug defense lawyer?
There is a saying that “a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Drug cases along with DUI cases are one of the most serious cases that are prosecuted in municipal courts or in state courts or superior courts. Even if you think you are guilty and may not want to fight your case all the way, there are matters that a skilled Georgia drug lawyer is better able to handle than someone representing him or herself. Here are some reasons why you may consider hiring us rather than representing yourself:
- You might put your driving privileges in jeopardy if you simply go to court and enter a guilty plea or a nolo contendere plea. Some judges may impose a license suspension as a condition of a sentence (even though the Georgia license suspension statute has changed dramatically for the better for those charged and convicted of drug offenses).
- A nolo contendere is still reported on your criminal history that current or future employers can see.
- Other charges in addition to your Georgia drug charge may be more serious and carry more punishment than the drug charge itself.
- Sometimes the prosecutor gives a bad plea offer. Even if you decide not to contest your case, an experienced drug defense attorney who is familiar with a particular court may be better able to navigate and defend your drug case than you.
- If you decide to represent yourself at trial, the Georgia Rules of Evidence still apply to you. Lawyers go to law school for years to learn these rules and you will be at the mercy of a skilled prosecutor and judge if you are not careful.
Call our experienced drug defense lawyers today:
If you are facing a possession of marijuana charge, or a felony possession charge, call our experienced drug defense lawyers today. We will meet with you free of charge to discuss your options, and provide advice based on our experience in the court where your case will be heard. Contact us today at 404.816.8777.