In Georgia, almost all drug offenses are felonies. This is because the state takes drug crimes very seriously. Many Atlanta residents face drug felony charges simply because a small amount of drugs were found in their cars, or because they were with another person who had drugs. The penalties for drug crimes are very harsh, making it very important for those facing charges to put together a strong defense.
Last week, a 20-year-old University of Georgia basketball player was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. As noted above, charges are usually only given at the misdemeanor level when the amount of drugs found is very small. Nonetheless, even misdemeanor drug charges can result in drastic consequences.
The young man, a rising Bulldog, was arrested at the Lenox Square Mall last weekend. His car was reportedly pulled over in the mall's parking lot, where police noticed an odor of marijuana. Police said they confiscated a small amount of marijuana from the glove compartment.
A 20-year-old passenger was also in the car at the time of the stop, and it is unclear whether he also faces drug charges.
Whether the basketball player is convicted or not, he is already being punished. Under a University of Georgia policy, any student-athlete who is charged with drug crimes has to sit out for 10 percent of his or her games that season. This might seem like an odd policy to some of us, as being arrested for something does not mean that you are guilty of anything.
In a cases that involve traffic stops leading to drug charges, defense attorneys may investigate whether the initial police stop was lawful, and whether officers had cause to search the vehicle. If not, it may be possible to make a motion to have the charges reduced or dismissed. In cases where the police and investigators did everything right and respected the rights of the defendant, this may not be possible, and it is then best to proceed with other options to ensure the best possible outcome in a drug case.
Source: Athens Red and Black, "Report: UGA men's basketball player Donte Williams charged with marijuana possession," June 1, 2012