What Are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Savannah for a First Offense?
In Savannah, marijuana has been decriminalized, and we leave it up to the officers to determine what exactly happens when someone’s caught with marijuana. Of course, this is all if it’s less than an ounce. If it’s less than one ounce of marijuana in Savannah, then what the officers can do is they can simply give you a fine. They can say, “I’m going to give you a fine of 150 dollars. You pay it, and you don’t have to have a misdemeanor or anything else.” However, they don’t have to do that. It’s left up completely to the officer’s discretion, and if they don’t do that and it’s less than an ounce, then it’s a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors carry 12 months probation and up to a $1,000 dollar fine. Usually if someone in Savannah has marijuana they’re being prosecuted for, usually they will be put on probation, and if they’re convicted, they have to do some sort of drug treatment course. That’s usually what the judges will require.
Can You Hire an Attorney to Contest the Misdemeanor Charge to Avoid it Being on Your Record?
Yes, you can. Usually when someone’s charged with this, the scenario is that there were a group of people smoking together with a bag of marijuana. There are always big questions, such as whose bag was it, and if you can challenge them and know what you’re doing, then that can make a huge difference. You can use the facts to show that it wasn’t yours, or that they attributed more to you than you had. There are all sorts of defenses, and the best way to keep a marijuana charge off your record is never to let it get there in the first place.
What Are the Penalties If You Have Over an Ounce of Marijuana in Your Possession in Savannah?
Under an ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, and over an ounce is considered a felony. If you have over an ounce, they are going to assume that you’re not smoking it yourself and that you’re intending on selling it. Sometimes, people will have baggies and other things that show they’re actually selling it. Sometimes, the pure amount of it is enough. Depending on the weight, having over one ounce can get you at least of one year in prison. If you get charged with drug trafficking, which means you have a substantial amount (2,000 lbs), you may be talking about closer to five or 30 years. Trafficking like that can carry a five year minimum prison sentence, even if you don’t have anything on your record.
What’s the Difference Between Possession of Marijuana and Trafficking?
It all has to do with weight. We usually use grams, but when we start getting up to above 10 pounds of marijuana, then you start talking about someone that’s trafficking. Basically, trafficking means that someone is going from place to place to get it and making sales all over an area, whether it be a state, multiple state, or anything like that. The more marijuana you have, the law says that you are actually going to take it, sell it, and ship it. You’re kind of like your own distributor at that point. So, trafficking is a bigger deal, and it carries a much higher penalty of five to 30 years, which can become 40 years if it’s aggravated. It is a much bigger deal and can lead to federal charges, as well.
What If I Bought the Marijuana Legally in Another State?
It does not matter if is bought it legally in another state. It’s still illegal in Georgia to possess it. This happens a lot, where someone will go to Colorado and bring it back. A lot of times, they can get in worse shape if they buy something and try to ship it, because then it becomes a federal crime when it’s shipped through the mail. There’s really no way to get something that’s illegal in Georgia and hang on to it, even if you got it somewhere else and it was completely legal.
What If Somebody Had a Medical Marijuana Prescription from Another State?
Medical marijuana is a whole other issue, and I’ve actually had several clients who experienced this. What happened was they would get arrested for it, and it would be up to us to show that they did have a medicinal purpose for it. Now once you do that, your charges are going to be gone, and you’re going to have your record wiped because it was an arrest that should never have happened if somebody fights it. But a lot of times, they would have been better off to not do that in the first place. If you have a medical marijuana card and you show it to the police, they may believe you or they may say, “We’ll let the judge sort it out.” And then you may have to go through months and months of trying to clear your good name.
Can You Be Charged with Possession of Marijuana If It’s an Edible?
People are definitely charged with that all the time. Edibles are something that are growing in consumption and distribution, and it all has to do with THC levels. So, somebody will get something they think is innocuous and it’s not.
What Happens If Somebody’s Charged with Possession of Marijuana on Federal Land or At a Federal Park?
Anything that happens on federal land like that or any kind of federal property can be a federal crime. And marijuana is not legal by any means under the federal code. It works just like the state does, where it depends on the amount you have, and it can be a lot worse if it’s on a military installation. So, any time you have the federal government involved, it becomes a federal crime, which makes it much worse.
How Long Will a Possession of Marijuana Charge Stay on Your Record?
There’s no way to get it off unless, for whatever reason, it’s pardoned by the governor’s office or later expunged. Sometimes, it will be like a pretrial diversion agreement, where there’ll be something ahead of time to try to get the DA to discharge the charges. And if that’s the case, it would never be on there in the first place. But if it’s not and someone’s actually convicted of it because they tried it themselves or didn’t know exactly what they were doing, then it will be stuck on there unless for some reason they get their record restricted, which is not the easiest process.
Can You Be Charged with Possession of Marijuana for CBD Gummies, Flowers, or Vapor Oils?
Yeah, I’ve had several of those actually. I had one client who was making things with hemp flower and selling them. The police went to him and said, “Well, it looks like marijuana, and we’re going to take you in.” He had quite a bit of it actually, so it was a big felony case. He had purchased everything legally. We ended up showing that the THC level in the stuff was not high enough to be illegal in Georgia, and there was not enough there to actually convict or charge him with anything. We got him and his record cleared like it never happened. However, it took six to nine months to do it. He had to hire me, and we had to go through that process, and it was not the easiest thing to try to explain to the judge because they’d never had it before.
Can You Share an Example of a Marijuana Case Where You Had a Successful Outcome?
We’ve had several that happened at SCAD, where the campus security would come into the room. One of our clients’ roommates had marijuana, and campus police tried to charge him with it. We were able to show that it was the roommate’s marijuana and get that one dismissed. A client we had in Statesboro had CBD oil, and they tried to make a much bigger deal of it because they had tried to treat it as a higher controlled substance. We had to show exactly what it was and that it wasn’t as deadly as they claimed it was at the time. So, we did that, got him off of it. Marijuana is one of those things that its form is constantly changing. CBD products and other things are leaning people to try to experiment with certain things that police are not familiar with. So, we see an increase in those. We also see something where, if you know what you’re doing, you get on it early enough, you can fight it and you can get rid of it. But if you don’t, you sit back and wait and you can really get in a mess with marijuana.