Atlanta Controlled Substance Act (CSA) Lawyers

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Violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (GCSA) can result in very severe penalties, including imprisonment, being a convicted felon, and other life-changing consequences.

If you’ve been charged with a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, your future and your freedom could quite literally depend upon the quality of your legal representation. Working with an experienced, winning criminal defense attorney is essential.

Your Georgia while collar criminal defense lawyer from Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC are standing by to provide top-notch representation in your GCSA crime. Call us today at (404) 891-9150.

What is the Controlled Substances Act?

The GCSA is the act which outlines all terms and charges regarding possession of controlled substances. This includes definitions of key terms, the classification of certain drugs in “schedules,” whether possession is a misdemeanor or a felony, the possible punishments based on the charge and conviction, and what the prosecutors must prove for a successful conviction. 

Some of the key definitions within the GCSA are:

  • The term “controlled substance” includes marijuana 
  • The term “dangerous drug” defines substances that are not contained in Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V
  • “Drug related object” is in reference to any object that is meant to introduce, enhance, conceal, or otherwise support and advance the use of illegal drugs 
  • “Knowingly” refers to the person being charged having general knowledge that a reasonable person would have that an object may reasonably be a drug-related object

The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly were in possession of the controlled substance through actual or constructive possession.

  • Actual possession is when you have the controlled substance on your person, like in your hand or in your pocket. 
  • Constructive possession means that the controlled substance was found in an area over which you have control or access, such as your home, car, or bag. 

How an Atlanta CSA Defense Attorney Can Help

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Your attorney will compel the state to prove each and every element of their case with sufficient evidence. If they can’t show proof, the state must reduce or drop the charges against you.

Experienced Atlanta CSA defense attorneys like those at Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson have years of experience negotiating the best possible case outcomes with the prosecutor. We know what the prosecutor’s office will accept, and what they will argue against, and we’ll do whatever possible to achieve the most positive outcome in your case or pending charges. 

Georgia Drug Schedules and Penalties for Violation

Controlled substances are divided into five categories by the state of Georgia, referred to as “schedules.” Each schedule is specifically defined as to what falls within that schedule, either by explanation of the type of drug or by listing the specific substances that fall within that schedule. 

Drug schedules are just one of the factors that determine how severe an offender’s penalties could be.

Any person who pleads guilty to possession of a narcotic drug, marijuana, stimulant, hallucinogenic, or depressant drug may be put on probation and require that they undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program. 

For a first criminal prosecution, state law allows the charged person to be placed into a diversion program or for their conditional release which will usually include the requirement that a comprehensive rehabilitation program be completed.

A conditional release is similar to probation–the judge sets conditions that must be met, then after those conditions have been met, the charges can be dropped. When a minor has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, the court may defer the case proceedings and place the minor on probation or a conditional release to allow them to receive help and assistance.

Negotiating such an advantageous outcome for your first offense requires talented legal advocacy familiar with your local courts. 

Schedule I

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The substances included in Schedule I are considered to be the most dangerous and addictive of the outlawed substances such as LSD, peyote, heroin, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ecstasy, and GHB. 

Penalties for Possession of Schedule I Drugs

First Conviction

  • The first conviction for possession of a Schedule I drug is 2 to 15 years in prison. 

Second Conviction

  • A second conviction for a schedule I drug will lead to 5 to 30 years of incarceration. 

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs are considered to be less dangerous than those in the Schedule I list, however this does not mean that the state takes them any less seriously. Drugs included in the Schedule II list include cocaine, morphine, methamphetamines, fentanyl, and oxycodone. 

Penalties for Possession of Schedule II Drugs

First Conviction

  • For the first conviction on a Schedule II drug, you can expect to face the prospect of a 2 to 15 year prison sentence 

Second Conviction

  • A second conviction for a Schedule II drug under the GCSA will result in the potential of 5 to 30 years in prison. 

Schedule III

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Drugs on the Schedule III list in Georgia include ketamine, as well as testosterone and other steroids. Although the potential incarceration time decreases with Schedule III drugs, the threat of being labeled a felon remains.  

Penalties for Possession of Schedule III Drugs

First Conviction

  • The first offense for a Schedule III drug can lead to 1 to 5 years prison time. 

Second Conviction

  • A second Schedule II conviction increases the maximum potential jail time that you could face, with the range being 1 to 10 years of incarceration.

Schedule IV

The list of substances included in Schedule IV is long, though it includes clonazepam, phenobarbital, diazepam, and flunitrazepam. 

Penalties for Possession of Schedule IV Drugs

First Conviction

  • The first-time penalty for a conviction of a Schedule IV drug is 1 to 5 years in jail 
  • For flunitrazepam specifically, the first offense penalty ranges from 2 to 15 years imprisonment 

Second Conviction

  • A second Schedule IV conviction will result in 1 to 10 years in prison 
  • For flunitrazepam, the second offense ranges from 5 to 30 years in prison 

CSA Registration Rules 

The GCSA also has registration rules in place for persons or organizations that engage in the manufacture, distribution, and/or sale of controlled substances.

The Georgia State Board of Pharmacy is allowed to establish rules and reasonable fees related to the registration and control of the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of controlled substances in the state.

Registration is one of the safeguards the state employs to maintain control over how legitimately manufactured, distributed, and dispensed controlled substances are managed in the state. 

Obligations of Registrants 

The general registration requirements under the GCSA are:

  • Any party who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses controlled substances in the state, or who proposes to engage in the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances in the state, must obtain an annual registration issued by the State Board of Pharmacy in line with its rules 
  • Once a person is registered, they are only allowed to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or conduct research to the extent of the authorization in their registration 
  • It is important to note that a separate registration is required for each principal place of business or professional practice where the applicant manufactures, distributes, or dispenses controlled substances.

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There are some exceptions to registration, with certain parties not required to register when they are engaged in the supply chain of controlled substances in their official functions. For example, persons who are licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy, such as a pharmacist or pharmacy, are not required to pay the registration fee and meet the application requirements.

The State Board of Pharmacy may also waive the requirements for registration of specific manufacturers, distributors, or dispensers if it’s consistent with public health and safety. 

Penalties for Violating GCSA Registration Requirements

In order to be registered and to maintain registration, the State Board of Pharmacy must find that the registrant is engaging in activities that are not adverse to the public interest.

Further, the Board considers whether the prospective registrant maintains effective controls against diversion of controlled substances into anything other than legitimate, medical, industrial, or scientific channels.

The proposed registrant must comply with all applicable state and local laws, and any prior federal convictions will be taken into account by the Board as it makes its decision pertaining to the proposed registrant. 

Examples of Civil Violations of the GCSA

Civil violations of the GCSA can be relatively minor, such as forgetting to register one location of a business when registering the principal agent and their other locations.

Other civil violations of the GCSA could lead to criminal liability, such as failing to prevent the diffusion of controlled substances into improper markets and recipients. 

Punitive measures maybe taken against an applicant or registrant under the GCSA when:

  • The registrant is found to have furnished false or fraudulent material information in their application 
  • The registrant was convicted of a felony under state or federal law related to any controlled substance 
  • If the registrant’s federal registration is suspended or revoked, the state of Georgia may also do so

Penalties for civil violations can be costly and have long-term implications. 

Penalties for Civil Violations 

Although civil violations of the GCSA may not lead to jail time, they can still have very costly implications. For example, the applicant’s federal registration to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances could be revoked.

In other circumstances, the registrant’s registration may be suspended for a civil violation of the GCSA. 

Charged n Atlanta? Our firm can help.

Violations of the Georgia CSA can lead to life-long complications, including imprisonment, felon-status, the suspension of your driver’s license, loss of voting and gun possession rights, and other punitive measures.

It’s essential that you work with an informed attorney who knows what the state must prove to win their case, and what can be done to achieve the best possible outcome. Given the many requirements that the state must prove to successfully achieve a criminal charge against you for a GCSA violation, your attorney will be able to oppose their efforts and reduce their charges at many steps throughout the process. 

To learn how we can help your case, reach out to Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC at (404) 891-9150 or visit our site to connect.