07 Feb Heroin Posession Laws in Georgia
Drug laws in Georgia are some of the strictest in the country. And because of reasons we’ll explain in this article, heroin possession carries the strictest penalties of any drug laws in the state.
No matter what, if you or a loved one is concerned about getting in trouble with the law due to heroin possession, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Only with the guidance of an experienced lawyer will you be able to make the best decisions given the specifics of your case.
However, we have put together this article to give you some information and some insight into how heroin possession laws are structured in Georgia and what to expect if you or a loved one gets busted.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What heroin is and why it’s so dangerous.
- Possession laws of heroin in Georgia.
- Penalties for being caught with heroin.
- How much heroin you need to get caught with for it to be considered trafficking.
- Whether or not getting caught means you’ll go to prison.
Again, it’s important to remember that this article is meant to serve as a guide, not as legal advice. Please, contact a lawyer before making any legal decisions.
In addition, call one of our recovery specialists at (678) 671-3932 to learn how to get on the road to recovery today.
What is Heroin?
Though many of you likely know, some of you may be wondering what exactly is heroin?
The dictionary definition of heroin is, “A highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine, often used illicitly as a narcotic producing euphoria.”
Heroin is derived from certain varieties of poppy plants and is usually found as a white or brownish powder.
Almost all the heroin sold in America has been “cut”, meaning it’s been processed with additives so dealers can make more money.
Sometimes these cuts are relatively harmless, such as sugars or starch, while other times the cuts can be extremely toxic and even fatal, such as fentanyl.
How is Heroin Used?
Pure heroin comes as a white, bitter-tasting powder. If heroin is relatively pure, it can be smoked or snorted. This is often times more appealing to new users, as smoking and snorting is a relatively easy way of taking the drug.
However, another type of heroin is often called “black tar”. This is because this type of heroin is sticky and black, sort of like roofing tar. Other types of impure heroin can be black and hard like coal.
Either way, this impure form of heroin is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into the veins. This is by far the most dangerous way to use heroin, due to the risk of overdose. In addition, many users will share needles, increasing their risk of contracting dangerous infectious diseases.
The reason for the color and consistency of “black tar” heroin is the impurities left behind due to the crude extraction and processing methods. This is another reason heroin is so dangerous. Different batches will have different strengths, potencies, purities, and cuts, resulting in wildly different psychological and physiological effects.
Generally speaking, the type of heroin a person gets caught with won’t influence their sentencing.
Why is Heroin so Dangerous?
The reason heroin is considered to be so dangerous is because of it’s highly addictive nature and it’s potential for complications such as overdose.
There are many factors that increase a users risk, some of which we covered above. It’s also important to remember that just because someone gets addicted to heroin doesn’t mean they’re bad, or lazy, or evil.
In fact, many heroin users end up taking heroin after being prescribed prescription opiates first. In fact, research suggests that the misuse of prescription opiates (such as OxyContin and Vicodin) is the leading cause of heroin addiction.
According to drugabuse.gov, “Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) reported misusing prescription opioids first.”
Still, the simple fact remains: Heroin is dangerous because it often leads to addiction and overdose, and can pose huge risks for all users, especially pregnant women.
Heroin & the Law
As we mentioned, drug possession laws in Georgia are some of the harshest in the country, with heroin being penalized the most.
The reason for this is that heroin is commonly recognized as one of the most dangerous street drugs. In fact, with the recent uprise of opiate addiction, heroin may be the most dangerous illicit drug.
However, it’s important to understand heroin laws and what they mean for one who gets caught possessing heroin.
First off, many people wonder what possession actually is. For example, some may think that you have to have heroin in your pocket or in some way on your person for it to count as possession.
In most cases, this isn’t true. It’s enough to just have heroin in your car or house, as long as the police can prove that the drug was in your control.
This means that if you’re driving with a friend and they have heroin, you could be held liable. That’s why it’s always better to not start a heroin habit and avoid contact with those who use heroin. It’s not worth the risk of going to jail.
It’s also important to note the difference between possession and trafficking. Possession is considered possessing a drug for personal, recreational use.
Trafficking, on the other hand, is when a person possesses a drug with the intent to sell. You may think that as long as you don’t have the intent to sell you’ll only get in trouble for possession.
With most drugs, this is the case. With heroin, however, it’s just not true.
In fact, if someone is caught with just four grams of heroin, they can be convicted of trafficking (check the section below to see the penalties for trafficking), even if they didn’t intend to sell the drug.
For perspective, to be convicted of trafficking in Georgia for cocaine or methamphetamine, you need 28 grams or more. That’s four times the trafficking amount for heroin.
Whether convicted of possession or trafficking, getting in trouble for heroin will almost certainly be a felony. In the next section, we’ll cover the specific penalties for heroin depending on the amount you’re caught with.
In the section after that, we’ll discuss if getting caught with heroin ensures you’ll be placed in prison.
Penalties for Heroin Possession in Georgia
As we mentioned above, the severity of your penalties will be based on how much of the drug you possessed and the intent you possessed it with.
For example, if you’re caught with under a gram of heroin, you’ll be facing 1-3 years in prison or on probation. Of course, the penalty will depend on the judge you get and the extent of your criminal history.
For those with no criminal history, they may be asked to attend a drug treatment center instead of prison. Again, talk to a lawyer for more details on the specifics of your case.
If you’re caught with between 1-4 grams of heroin, you’ll be facing 1-8 years of prison or probation. Of course, if the police have cause to believe you were possessing the heroin to sell, they can up the charge to include trafficking, which holds with it a much longer minimum sentencing.
If you’re caught with between 4-14 grams, you can face 5-15 years of prison or probation and $50,000+ in fines. More than 14 grams, you can be facing some serious time. In fact, 4-14 grams has a mandatory 10-year sentence and a $100,000 fine.
While over 28 grams carries with it a mandatory 25-year sentence and half a million dollars in fines.
To make it easy, we’ll summarize the penalties above in an easy to read list:
- Less than a gram: 1-3 years of prison or probation.
- 1-4 grams: 1-8 years of prison or probation.
- 4-14 grams: Mandatory 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
- 14-28 grams: Mandatory 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
- 28+ grams: Mandatory 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Again, the reason these penalties are so harsh is because of the extremely addictive and dangerous potentials of heroin. You don’t have to watch the news for long to learn about an overdose from heroin or a similar opiate.
But jail time isn’t the only penalty those convicted of heroin possession will face. In fact, in Georgia, those convicted of drug possession can lose their driver’s license and all driving privileges.
For your first offense, you’ll lose your license for six months. For a second offense, it’s a full year. That can be a major hassle for those with a commute to work.
If you get busted more than twice for heroin or other drug possession, you could lose driving privileges for even longer.
Again, an experienced lawyer will be able to give you the details on penalties and how to defend yourself depending on the specifics of the case.
So, you may be scared with all the harsh laws and years of life you can lose behind bars. But, just because you’re convicted of heroin possession doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll spend any time in the joint.
Continue reading to learn more in the next section.
Does That Mean I’m Going to Prison?
The short answer to that is: it depends.
The long answer to that is: talk to a lawyer.
However, we can say with some certainty that not everyone convicted of heroin possession will face jail time. If you’re caught with a large amount (meaning you’re convicted of trafficking alongside possession) or if you have a criminal history, jail time is almost certainly in your future.
However, for young people without a criminal history, judges may understand that jail time isn’t necessarily the right cure for addiction.
In these cases, a judge may send the case to drug court. Drug court, just like regular court, allows for the resolution of criminal charges.
However, drug court also holds defendants responsible for their sobriety. This means that drug court has more of an emphasis on rehabilitating defendants, instead of just punishing them.
Often when a case goes to drug court, there are some stipulations, for example, taking regular drug tests. Failing to follow through on the stipulations (such as not showing up for the drug screening), failing a drug test, or being convicted of a separate criminal offense is usually enough for the case to go back to regular court, meaning you’re more likely to spend time in jail.
In addition, those under the age of 18 may be able to be tried as a juvenile. Again, this will depend on the specifics of the case, such as the age of the defendant and their criminal history.
Any cases tried in juvenile court will end up in a juvenile detention center instead of prison.
If it’s your child who was convicted of heroin possession, we recommend finding a lawyer experienced in handling juvenile drug cases. They’ll know how best to proceed.
Facing a drug charge is never fun, but with the right support system by your side, you’ll get through it.
In addition, going through withdrawals while fighting a drug charge is even harder. That’s why we recommend contacting one of our recovery specialists today.
In fact, if the court knows you’ve reached out in an attempt to beat your addiction, they may see it as a good faith attempt to get better. In other words, they may lessen your charge.
Again, call your lawyer before making any legal decisions. Only they will know what to do depending on the specifics of your case.
In addition, call our confidential recovery specialists at (678) 671-3929 to get insight into how to beat the addiction your or a loved one is facing.
Wishing you and your loved ones a speedy recovery.
“Georgia Heroin Laws.” Find Law. 15 Mar. 2019. https://statelaws.findlaw.com/georgia-law/georgia-heroin-laws.html
Firm, Fox. “Georgia Drug Possession Laws.” HG.org. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/georgia-drug-possession-laws-24521
Agramonte, Mary. “Drug Possession in Georgia.” W. Scott Smith Peach State Lawyer. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.peachstatelawyer.com/drug-possession/