In Georgia, the consequences of a drug conviction vary depending on factors such as the substance, the amount and the use. Previous convictions and eligibility for alternative punishments may also affect the outcome.

While any drug charge is serious, incarceration is not always a forgone conclusion.

Controlled substances

Georgia divides drugs into five schedules to classify them. These range from Schedule V, which includes drugs that have a medical use, are not likely to cause dependence and have a very low potential for abuse, to Schedule I drugs, which have no legally accepted medical use and a very high potential for abuse. Below are examples of each classification:

  • Schedule V: drugs requiring a prescription
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium
  • Schedule III: steroids, ketamine
  • Schedule II: oxycodone, PCP, cocaine
  • Schedule I: heroin, LSD, ecstasy

Penalties

Drug possession is a felony in Georgia. A prison sentence of between two and 30 years is possible if a judge rules someone is guilty of unlawful possession of a Schedule I drug or a Schedule II narcotic or non-narcotic. The unlawful possession of a Schedule III, IV or V drug may result in one to five years in prison.

Selling or distributing a Schedule I or II drug may lead to a felony conviction and one to 30 years in prison. The sale of a Schedule III, IV or V drug is also a felony and may result in incarceration for one to 10 years.

Conditional discharge

A person may not necessarily go to prison for drug possession if there are no previous offenses relating to drugs. If someone pleads guilty or a judge finds him or her guilty of possession, the judge may defer entering a guilty judgment and put the person on probation.

The judge sets parameters for probation, which typically includes entering a drug treatment program, taking regular and random drug tests, making restitution, paying fines and staying out of further legal trouble.