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State Senator drafting bill to slash number of felony charges

Possessing marijuana in the state of Georgia is a felony that can land defendants behind bars for a significant length of time. In comparison to misdemeanor charges, felony charges generally carry much more severe consequences if a conviction is secured. With an unprecedented 30,000 charges filed for marijuana possession in the past four years, one state lawmaker is on the move to make a change.

State Senator Harold Jones points out that 90 percent of those 30,000 charges were only for possession, and not with any intent to sell. He says that these individuals are being put behind bars for merely possessing the illegal substances, arguing that resources could be better utilized on those who are actually selling the drug. The senator hopes to change all of that with a bill that he is in the process of drafting.

If passed and signed into law, the bill would not alter possession with intent to distribute or sell charges. What it would do is lower a simple possession charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. His bill also includes an emphasis on the savings that the state would make, which he tallies up into the millions. The senator also proposes that the punishment for possessing marijuana be reconsidered, and that a rehabilitative program would be more beneficial in the long run for both the state and defendants.

The passing of such a bill would be revolutionary for criminal law in Georgia, although Senator Jones must first finish drafting it before it can even be put before the House. In the meantime, defendants facing felony charges for possessing marijuana must still contend with potentially lengthy prison time. There is no single approach to handling these types of charges, which can leave defendants understandably worried and confused about their future. In general, one of the most effective ways to achieve the most desirable outcome possible is for defendants and their respective counsel to conduct a thorough review of all charges and their related evidence in as timely a manner as possible.

Source: nbc26.tv, "New bill aims to reduce felony possession of marijuana charge", Uyen Le, Dec. 23, 2015

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