The decision as to whether a drug charge (or any criminal charge) should be presented to a jury is unquestionably the most difficult decision that a Georgia criminal defense lawyer and defendants have to address. However, in drug cases, particular, should be carefully considered before making the decision to enter a guilty plea.
In Atlanta (and throughout Georgia), many prosecutors recommend sentences that are much longer and harsher than any conceivable period of time that the defendant would actually serve incarcerated. What we continually see are prosecutors and Judges that are incentivized to impose exceptionally harsh sentences to satisfy the emotional desires of voters, and the Board of Pardons and Pardons and Paroles is left to clean up the mess. In fact, the Board of Pardons and Paroles is basically following the sentencing considerations that most lawyers think the trial judge follows. Consider this statement on the function of the Board of Pardons and Paroles provided by the agency:
Persons are sentenced to prison for four purposes: punishment, incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation. A parole board studies the need for and accomplishment of each of these purposes in each case being considered. Justice demands that the handling of each case should be tailored to the crime and to the offender.
A parole board's view of a case necessarily differs from that of a local court or law enforcement agency. The Board can compare the case with thousands of others statewide. The Board's unique central position and authority allows it to reduce sentence disparity. Excessive harshness is more readily reduced, but excessive leniency in the form of a too-light confinement sentence may be corrected partially by parole denial.
SO, HOW DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT ACTUAL SENTENCE YOU WILL SERVE ON A DRUG CHARGE IF CONVICTED?
Lawyers do not like to give parole advice to clients, but we cannot ignore the real world parole implications of a sentence. Ultimately, whether we accept a plea offer or go to trial on a Georgia felony drug charge has to be decided based, in part, on a consideration of parole eligibility.
The Parole Eligibility Guidelines provided by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has to be considered:
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Atlanta, Georgia 30309
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