Heroin and other opiates are tightly controlled substances under Georgia law, where possession of any amount of the drug is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A second conviction for selling heroin can result in a life sentence. But Georgia courts often divert minors who have been arrested for drug possession to community-based rehabilitation programs in lieu of incarceration in juvenile detention centers.
Learn about Georgia heroin laws in the summary table and article below. See FindLaw's Drug Charges section for additional details.
|Code Section||16-13-20, et seq.|
|Possession||4 g. or more is trafficking: Possession of any amount is a felony punishable with minimum 2-15 yrs.; Subsequent offense: minimum 5-30 yrs.|
|Sale||Felony: 5-30 yrs.; Subsequent offense: life imprisonment|
|Trafficking||4-14 g.: mandatory 5 yrs. and $50,000; 14-28 g.: mandatory 10 yrs. and $100,000; Over 28 g.: mandatory 25 yrs. and $500,000|
Justifications for Strict Heroin Laws
One of the biggest justifications for strict heroin laws is the fact that heroin is extremely addicting. Courts, and the legislature, want to create a strong disincentive against using heroin, because the burdens and harms that come from drug addiction affect more than just the drug user his or herself. Drug addicts are more likely to commit theft or other crimes in order to pay for drugs, once they have exhausted their personal funds. Drug addiction can also put a heavy burden on hospitals, and intravenous drug use can spread diseases quickly. Also, drug addiction can have drastic effects on a person's family, including divorce, loss of custody, and even domestic violence.
Punishments For Possession of Heroin
In Georgia, possession of any amount of heroin is a felony that is punishable with a minimum two year prison term. However, the prison term can be up to 15 years for a first offense. For a second possession offense, the minimum sentence is two years in prison, and can be up to thirty years in jail.
Punishments For Selling Heroin
Under Georgia law, selling heroin is a greater offense than mere possession, because the drug dealer enables the drug user, and may even get other non-users to become addicted. Any heroin sale is an automatic felony, with a minimum five year jail term. The first offense can put someone in jail for thirty years. Anyone convicted selling heroin more than once will be put in jail for life.
Punishments for Trafficking Heroin
Trafficking heroin generally includes importing, exporting, or transporting heroin. Mere possession of four or more grams of heroin in Georgia is automatically considered to be heroin trafficking. Trafficking between four and fourteen grams of heroin garners an automatic five year jail sentence, and a fifty thousand dollar fine. Trafficking up to twenty eight grams earns a ten year sentence and one hundred thousand dollar fine. Trafficking over twenty eight grams will get you a mandatory sentence of at least twenty five years, and a fine of five hundred thousand dollars.
Children under eighteen years of age may have the possibility of appearing in juvenile court if they are charged with a heroin crime. Conviction in juvenile court may send them to a diversion program rather than jail. However, the seriousness of the crime may require that their case is heard in adult court.
State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Georgia drug crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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