In general, misdemeanor offenses in Georgia carry less than a year in jail at the county level. In contrast, felony offenses can result in a year or more of incarceration at a state prison.
Review the factors that influence whether a drug-related charge is a felony or misdemeanor in Georgia.
Type of substance
Georgia categorizes illegal drugs based on medical use and ability to cause harm. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous while Schedule V drugs carry the lowest risk of harm. While the state can impose felony charges for any scheduled illegal substances, courts generally assign stricter penalties for possession of Schedule I drugs such as heroin, ecstasy or LSD and Schedule II drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and hydrocodone.
The state will also consider the person’s intended use of the substance in question. He or she does not necessarily have to be holding the drugs at the time of the arrest. Possession only requires that the person have the substance under their control (stored at home or in a vehicle, for example).
Drug distribution or sale constitutes a felony in Georgia, but the amount of prison type will vary based on the specific substance and the amount. The court will also consider evidence of intent to sell or distribute such as packaging, customer lists or cash.
Individuals charged with drug possession or distribution in Georgia may qualify for diversion programs. For example, probationary drug court provides treatment for diagnosed substance use disorder in lieu of jail time.