What is Georgia's marijuana-specific first offender statute and how might it apply to my misdemeanor drug possession case?

GA first offender statute for marijuanaThe Georgia First Offenders Act (FOA) allows individuals charged with certain crimes to plead guilty or no contest, and have the offense removed from their official criminal record after they've successfully completed their sentence. Sentences in these cases may include probation, fees, jail time, or a combination thereof. If you've never been convicted of a felony in any state or sentenced as a first offender, you may be eligible for sentencing under the FOA.

Additionally, if you're a first-time offender who's charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, you may qualify for a conditional discharge. Like sentencing under the FOA, a conditional discharge makes it possible for your charges to be dismissed once you've completed your sentence—which in this case may include probation, fines, community service, drug screenings, and risk reduction courses.

However, inclusion in Georgia's alternative plea and sentencing programs isn't automatic. You need a skilled Atlanta defense attorney to:

  • Convince the judge that you qualify.
  • Determine whether you should ask to be sentenced as a first offender or request a conditional discharge.
  • Help ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of your sentence.

Requests for FOA sentencing or conditional discharge are made early in the case process—before you enter a plea—and granted at the judge's discretion. Denials can't be appealed. Having a knowledgeable attorney with a firm grasp of the relevant laws and the specific facts of your case is absolutely essential.

A capable defense attorney can also help make sure that you don't waste your opportunity for FOA sentencing on a misdemeanor drug crime when asking for conditional discharge may be more appropriate and beneficial. They can also advise you on how to comply with the terms of your sentence to avoid the risk of having your alternative plea revoked.

Consult an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney

Find out how Rechtman & Spevak's seasoned criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


Jaret A. Spevak
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Atlanta Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Attorney With 20+ Years Experience