According to reports, three men from North Carolina were arrested after they were stopped on I-85 in Gwinnett County. The men were stopped as part of an ongoing investigation into marijuana trafficking through Atlanta via I-85 and into neighboring states. Authorities found approximately 70 pounds of marijuana in the suspects' vehicle – it is said that that amount of marijuana is worth more than $200,000.
At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, our attorneys have experience defending Trafficking Marijuana Cases in Gwinnett County. In today's post, I'll be outlining Georgia law on trafficking marijuana, as well as penalties and potential defenses.
Trafficking Marijuana in Georgia
In Georgia, the Georgia Controlled Substances Act regulates marijuana. Marijuana, unlike many other types of drugs, is not considered a scheduled substance. According to O.C.G.A. §16-13-1(a)(1), marijuana is instead considered a controlled substance. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-31(c) describes trafficking marijuana as selling, manufacturing, growing, delivering, bringing into the state, or having possession of more than ten pounds. A conviction of trafficking marijuana can have severe ramifications – it is essential that you speak to a qualified attorney immediately.
Trafficking marijuana is considered a felony, so the penalty associated is much greater than a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted of trafficking marijuana in an amount greater than ten pounds but less than 2,000, the minimum penalty you will receive is five years in prison and a fine of $100,000. If you are convicted of trafficking between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds of marijuana, the minimum sentence is seven years with a fine of $250,000. If you are convicted of trafficking any amount greater than 10,000 pounds, you will receive a minimum sentence of fifteen years and a $1 million fine.
However, there are circumstances in which you could be given less than the required minimum sentence. Some of these circumstances include:
- Helping law enforcement identify individuals involved in the trafficking operation
- Not being the leader of the trafficking ring
- Not possessing a firearm, hazardous object, or dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime
- Having no prior felony convictions
- The crime did not involve the death or serious bodily harm to a nonparticipant of the crime; and
- If justice would not be served if the required minimum sentence was imposed.
Additionally, some defenses to a charge of trafficking marijuana can include:
- The police used illegal methods of discovering the marijuana
- The amount seized was less than the amount you were charged with
- You can prove your innocence through witness testimony or an alibi
- You were not the leader of the trafficking operation
- You cannot be convicted of both trafficking marijuana and manufacturing marijuana. See Preval v. State, 302 Ga. App. 785 (2010).
At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, we handle more than D.U.I. cases in Gwinnett County – we have a team of excellent lawyers to help you fight a charge of trafficking marijuana in Gwinnett County. Call our office today to build the best possible defense for your case.