Statute of Limitation on Drug Charges in Georgia

The limitation period of prosecuting drug charges is contained in 17-3-1-Limitation on prosecutions

Georgia regulates the possession of both illegal and prescription drugs. The operating law is the Georgia Code, Title 16, Chapter 13- Controlled Substances Act. The federal statute of the Controlled Substances Act also applies in cases of drug charges. In order to identify the limitation period of prosecuting drug charges in Georgia, one must consider the type of crime committed. Drug charges in Georgia can be either felonies or misdemeanors (Polk & Reed, 2018). The statute of limitation is the time frame provided by the statue for the prosecutor in criminal cases or claimant in the civil cases to file their claims.

In the state of Georgia, It is a felony to be found in possession of substances classified under schedule I, II, III, IV, and V. Being in possession of narcotics and non-narcotic substances falling within schedule I and II is a serious felony that can make someone to be imprisoned for a term not more than 15 years if he or she is a first offender and 30 years if he or she is a subsequent offender. Being in possession of substance classified under schedule III, IV, V is also a felony leading to the imprisonment of not more than five years for the first offenders. Being in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is regarded as a felony. However, when one is in possession of marijuana less than one ounce, it is considered a misdemeanor and need not be imprisoned for more than two years.

Being in possession of illegal substances prohibited by law is described under the Georgia law as actual possession or possessive state. This means that even if the drug is found in your compound or house and you are not around, you are still in possession of such drugs because you are the owner of the house. The conviction of drug charges in Georgia also leads to the cancellation of the driving license for six months.

What is the Statute of Limitation on Drug Charges in Georgia? 

The limitation period of prosecuting drug charges is contained in 17-3-1-Limitation on prosecutions. Drug charges fall under the felonies that have a limitation period of four years. This is because they are not felonies punished by death or life imprisonment as classified within the statute of limitations. It is only the possession of marijuana that is less than one ounce that has a limitation period of 2 years because it constitutes a misdemeanor.

The four years prescribed for felonies and two years prescribed for misdemeanors are counted from the day the alleged crime was committed. Therefore, this means that the alleged offender will be free from the wrath of prosecution if the prosecutor fails to file the charges in court within the time provided. It is also a defense to argue that the charge is time-barred by the limitation of action statute. The limitation period is provided in the law to enhance impartiality in the justice system. If the prosecutor were to be allowed to file drug charges in court after a period of more than four years, then considering the nature of drug charges, evidence would be easily distorted. Giving the prosecutor more than four years to file a drug charge is also dangerous because they may be tempted to plant evidence if they fail to get one (Gallen, 2018).


1) Gallen, J. (2018). Historical abuse and the statute of limitations. Statute Law Review, 39(2), 103-117.

2) Polk, E. R., & Reed, B. M. (2018). HB 249-Controlled Substances and Prescription Drug Monitoring Database. Georgia State University Law Review, 34(1), 143.