The conditional discharge statute in Georgia provides a tremendous potential benefit for criminal defendants facing some drug charges in Georgia. However, the conditional discharge statute does not apply to all drug offenses in Georgia. I am frequently asked whether a charge of selling drugs in Georgia is eligible for conditional discharge.
NO, THE CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE STATUTE IS INAPPLICABLE TO CHARGES OF DISTRIBUTING OR MANUFACTURING DRUGS IN GEORGIA.
The conditional discharge statute cannot be properly applied to a charge other than possessing drugs:
The unambiguous language of OCGA § 16–13–2(a) limits its application to those criminal defendants who plead guilty to or are convicted of drug possession.
“Possession … is defined as the right to exercise power over a corporeal thing.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) State v. Jackson, 271 Ga. 5, 515 S.E.2d 386 (1999). On the other hand, “[m]anufacture means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance[.]” (Punctuation omitted.) OCGA § 16–13–21(15). By expressly mentioning only possession, the statute implicitly excludes other drug offenses, such as manufacturing. See Abdulkadir v. State, 279 Ga. 122, 123(2), 610 S.E.2d 50 (2005) (“Georgia law provides that the express mention of one thing in an Act or statute implies the exclusion of all other things.”) (footnote omitted).
Limiting the application of OCGA § 16–13–2(a) to drug possession is consistent with the legislative scheme criminalizing and punishing drug offenses. Notably, drug possession is criminalized by OCGA § 16–13–30(a). In contrast, OCGA § 16–13–30(b) prohibits manufacturing, delivering, distributing, dispensing, administering, selling, and possessing with intent to distribute any controlled substance. Moreover, Georgia law imposes much harsher penalties for these crimes than for mere possession. Compare OCGA § 16–13–30(c) and (d); see also Bassett v. Lemacks, 258 Ga. 367, 370(2), 370 S.E.2d 146 (1988).
State v. Barrow, 332 Ga. App. 353, 354, 772 S.E.2d 802, 803-04 (2015)
If you have questions about how your Atlanta drug charge may be successfully resolved, contact The Sessions Law Firm.
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