According to The Augusta Chronicle, methamphetamine was Georgia’s top illegal drug in 2012. It still retained that distinction in 2018. Possession of methamphetamine is a felony involving having 28 or fewer grams of the illicit substance (any amount above that transitions elevates the crime to trafficking). There are two forms of this offense, actual or constructive.
A suspect who commits the former has it in physical possession (on their person or within their reach, such as in a wallet, purse or pocket). In the latter, the accused supposedly has the ability and intent to access the drug and exercise control over it; for example, if individuals have methamphetamine in their home or car, they may be subject to constructive possession charges. The penalties for the transgression vary depending on more than one factor.
Georgia classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II substance. The severity of the potential punishment rises with the amount of the drug the accused faces charges of possessing. A first-time offense carries a possible prison sentence of anywhere from two to 15 years. There may also be a fine of $100,000, not including any court fees. Tacking on “with intent to distribute” to the end of the charge also raises the prison sentence to five to 30 years for a first offense.
The penalties for second or subsequent occurrences of possession are steeper. Suspects face prison terms of up to 30 years even without the intent to distribute. Courts are also more likely to show leniency to first-time offenders than repeat ones.
There are ways to defend against possession charges. An individual may not receive a conviction of this crime unless the prosecutor establishes guilt beyond a doubt. Proximity to methamphetamine is not sufficient by itself to prove possession.