Georgia state law largely reflects federal law when it comes to control and prohibited substances. The same substances are against the law, and possession of any of them could lead to criminal prosecution. If police officers catch someone in possession of a prohibited drug, they will very likely pursue a drug charge against that individual. Many people face possession charges, which are serious enough to warrant concern. However, in some cases, the state may accuse someone of drug trafficking.
Essentially, the allegation is that someone is selling drugs or is playing a role in their distribution. Drug trafficking charges are significantly more serious than simple possession offenses and could lead to life-altering penalties if someone pleads guilty or gets convicted in Georgia state court.
Judges impose penalties at their own discretion
Georgia law gives the judge hearing a drug trafficking case the discretion to impose penalties that they believe are appropriate given the circumstances. The state authorizes a range of penalties depending on the type of drug involved and how much of it police officers find.
A drug trafficking conviction usually leads to a lengthy jail sentence that could last anywhere from one year for small amounts of narcotics to 25 years, sometimes more, for those accused of trafficking many pounds of drugs. The judge will also be able to impose financial penalties. The fines someone has to pay could be as much as $1,000,000.
A guilty plea or a conviction during a criminal trial will also lead to a felony criminal record in most cases. Even if the prosecutor offers a plea to a lesser offense, the original felony charge will typically show up during background checks and will, therefore, continue to hold someone back for years after their conviction.
Entering a guilty plea does not ensure leniency when facing drug trafficking charges. It actually leaves someone at the mercy of a judge, who may have a very different perception of the situation than the defendant and who may choose to impose the worst possible penalties.
Yet, although drug trafficking charges are very serious, they also require a significant amount of evidence for successful prosecution. Mounting a vigorous defense in criminal court could help someone successfully avoid a drug trafficking conviction that will lead to major penalties and a life-altering criminal record.