So you got busted for having a little marijuana - what now???
An arrest for VGCSA-Possession of Marijuana can have devastating effects on your criminal history, your educational career, financial aid eligibility for college, and your future employment. The first step in limiting the damage an arrest for this charge will bring you is hiring a qualified attorney. An attorney will be able to assess the facts in your particular case, look for legal defenses to the case and to bock the admission of critical evidence. In addition to finding a qualified lawyer, you should immediately make private and/or block any content you have on social media such as facebook, twitter, my space, or pinterest. The police sometimes search these public sites using your information to see if they can glean additional evidence against you. Finally, do not discuss this case with anyone other than your lawyer.
Your legal options - Don't just plead guilty
Depending on the jurisdiction, several options may be available to you. If you appear without an attorney and do not know what you are doing, you may enter a guilty plea to a drug charge when other better options are available. This is an area where an attorney is crucial. A plea of guilty to a VGCSA charge will result in the suspension of your Georgia drivers license. Examine other options as listed below.
Pre-Trial Diversion option (This saves your license from suspension)
Pre-Trial Diversion - This is a process where the prosecutor steer the case away from the formal court process and into a program where the offender is required to perform certain tasks which may include taking and passing random drug screens, an alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment if recommended, community service, and/or Georgia Risk Reduction classes. If the offender completes all of the required terms, then the case is dismissed. You should always ask that as a term of this type of outcome that the prosecutor agree to expungement.
Conditional Discharge under 16-13-2(b) (This saves your license from suspension)
A conditional discharge means the offender will go onto probation for the term set by the judge, usually one year. During that term of probation, the offender has to complete the various special terms imposed by the court. Adjudication of the case is withheld. If the offender successfully completes the probation, then the case is dismissed. Some prosecutors will agree to expungement under these types of dispositions The offender must be aware that in the event that he does not complete this probationary period, the he is adjudged guilty of the VGCSA charge and at that time the judge would impose sentence. This is then considered a guilty plea and will cause a license suspension.
Plead of Nolo Contendere (This saves your license from suspension)
A plea of nolo contendere means you are not contesting the charge, but you are also not pleading guilty. The court does not have to accept a nolo contendere plea. This plea saves your GA license from suspension.