Georgia Code § 16-13-30 states that sale of any controlled substance, or marijuana, is a felony offense. As such, a huge amount is at stake for those accused of the sale of drugs. Convicted felons found guilty of sale charges frequently have lifelong consequences. They may find it difficult to secure housing, secure loans, and maintain employment. Additionally, the conditions of a sale sentence are severe due to the felony nature of the charges. You could look at years in prison and many more years of probation. The severity of the penalty ranges based on the category of drug involved in the sale.
As outlined in our possession of drugs page, controlled substances are categorized by “schedules”. Schedule drugs range from I to V. Generally, Schedule I is considered the most severe with severity decreasing each step down to V. That does not in any way suggest that sale of a Schedule V controlled substance is not worth concern. Even a Schedule V sale is still a felony. And as a whole, sale charges are a step more severe than their possession counterparts.
This is because by its very nature selling drugs involves not only the seller, but also other individuals and their personal drug use. Many of these users may be abusing drugs or substances that are extremely addictive and dangerous. This is a critical aspect and consideration of a sale case that must be understood and considered when building a sale case defense.
Let’s start with the most serious drug sale crimes, which include Schedule I and II substances. The most common substances and drugs to fall into this category are crystal meth, cocaine, heroin, extasy, and many others. A sale conviction for these schedule drugs will carry 5-30 years in prison with whatever amount that isn’t served to be carried out on felony probation. Sale cases in this category also frequently have their privilege to drive suspended for 180 days with no possibility of a limited permit. Repeat sale offenders will face compounding penalties just like possession offenders. A subsequent sale conviction will carry 10-40 years in prison/ probation. Fines, community service, conditional classes and evaluations, and many other felony conditions are also expected.
Although a step down in severity, Schedule III-V sale convictions are still extremely serious. A convicted seller of these categories is looking at 1=10 years of prison/ probation, or 2-20 for subsequent convictions. Driver’s license suspensions are also at stake for sales at these schedules. The most common drugs that are sold in these examples are prescription painkillers, steroids, and other prescription medications such as Adderall. Hefty fines, classes, and community service are expected in these cases just as much as their more serious schedule counterparts.
Sale of drug charges are intense, but not indefensible. There are always general defenses to any criminal case and sale charges are no different. Does the State have the ability to prove the substance and the amount that is involved? Weight and substance are critical when it comes to sale cases, especially when considering the possibility of trafficking charges. The state must also provide evidence of possession. It’s the State’s burden to prove that you were in fact possessing the drugs they claim you intended to sell. Many other defenses may be appropriate on a case by case basis, such as entrapment, equal access, and inferences. They key to understanding defense of a sale case is to know the facts of the individual incident. Some defenses may be appropriate for one case, but not for the next. The most important and critical action you can take in your sale case is to consult counsel as soon as possible following arrest. Motions to Suppress, preliminary hearings, and many other actions through the court may be critical in order to properly defend a sale case. Many of these are limited by time and immediacy following arrest. We look forward to hearing from you and defending your sale charges.