DUI IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT OF ATLANTA

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

After an accused has been arrested for a DUI, if one of the following occurred, an accused MUST send the 30-day appeal letter to attempt to save his/her driver’s license:

  1. After the accused has been arrested, an officer on scene from the Atlanta Police Department read him/her the correct “Implied Consent” notice and he/she refused to comply with either a blood, breath, or urine test in order to determine his/her blood alcohol content, OR
  2. The accused consented to a blood, breath, or urine test and the results showed that the blood alcohol content of the accused was above the legal limit.

If one of the following occurred, it is of vital importance to send the 30-day appeal of the license suspension letter prior to the deadline or risk the suspension of the accused person’s driver’s license. The suspension could last as long as 1 year.

After sending the 30-day letter, the accused must also be ready to defend his/her criminal allegations. The penalties for a DUI conviction are serious, thus, it is of great importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands all of the elements of the offense, the affirmative defenses to such a charge, and all possible options for the accused.

According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391, a person commits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when it renders them less safe to drive, the person’s alcohol concentration is .08 or more at any time within 3 hours after such driving occurred, or there is any amount of marijuana or other controlled substances present in the accused person’s blood, breath, or urine.

Once the Atlanta Police Department transfers the criminal charge to the Atlanta Solicitor’s Office, the criminal case will begin at a proceeding known as an arraignment. There are a few options when the case has landed here at the Municipal Court of Atlanta. Such options include:

  • The accused may plead guilty to DUI, which, for a first DUI conviction, usually will result in 12 months of probation, which requires completion of a Risk Reduction course and at least 40 hours of community service;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a bench trial with the municipal court judge;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a jury trial. This will result in the case being bound over to the Fulton County State Court, OR
  • At arraignment, the accused has the option to speak to the Atlanta solicitor in a pretrial conference to discuss other possible options, such as a reduction from the original DUI charge.

Due to the complexity of a driving under the influence criminal case, as well as the related license suspension proceeding, it is essential to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is skilled at defending such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients and have vast experience defending such charges. Therefore, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

What do you do if you are arrested for possession with intent or trafficking in drugs in Clayton County ?

If you or a loved one is arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking in Clayton County, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence.

The Clayton County District Attorney has a dedicated division to prosecute cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking. They will vigorously prosecute you if you are charged with a crime involving selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana or other illegal drugs.

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Drug charges are aggressively prosecuted in Clayton County.

Make sure your attorney has had felony jury trials and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle drug cases. Many drug cases are won at a motions hearing. It is imperative that you get body cams, dash cams, search warrants and take witness statements of anyone involved in the search and seizure of the drugs.

The law may say you are presumed innocent but in drug cases, you have to prove your innocence.

Here is what you should do if arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking in Clayton County.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases in Clayton County. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle these cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles drug cases in Georgia
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the Clayton County police department and profess your innocence. The police will not believe you. Do not think you can show up at your first court date and tell the prosecutor and judge that you are innocent and expect the charges to be dropped. If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking, you have to start preparing for your jury trial. Do not make any statements to anyone except your lawyer.
  3. Start gathering important evidence
    1. Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession.
    2. Gather and preserve any documents that might relate to this accusation including emails, texts, social media, phone records, GPS records, computer records or any other document that might show where you were when this incident allegedly occurred.
    3. Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this accusation. Do not discuss the case with this person but pass this list of potential witnesses to your attorney and let your attorney contact them.

Here is what you should never do if arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in Clayton County.

  1. Never talk to law enforcement or the Clayton County District Attorney’s office without an attorney.

If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine or any other illegal drug in Clayton County, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999. We will sit down with you and fully discuss your case and what to expect in court. There is no charge for the initial consultation. You will only retain us if you feel we are the best law firm to represent you. It is your case and your life so you need to hire the lawyer that you feel gives you the best chance to win.

What to expect during a DUI stop in Alpharetta, GA

By: Attorney Alex Henson

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Alpharetta, GA you might be pulled over and investigated by police. What can you expect during a DUI stop?

First, the officer might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the question, but always be polite and respectful. Any statements you make could be used against you later in court.

Next, the officer might ask you to perform certain exercises to see if you are safe to drive. These exercises are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and your performance could be used against you in court later. The most common of these tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn. It is voluntary to participate in field sobriety tests. Refusing to participate cannot be used against you in court later.

The officer may decide that you are under the influence and less safe to drive. If the officer decides to arrest you, he or she may read you Georgia’s implied consent statement and request chemical testing of your breath or blood. These tests are voluntary, but refusal can result in your license being suspended.

If you are arrested for DUI in Alpharetta, GA for DUI, your case will be sent to Alpharetta Municipal Court. In the Alpharetta Municipal Court, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case. However, if you decide you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred to the State Court of Fulton County.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Alpharetta, GA and would like a free consultation, call us at (404) 581-0999.

 

Clayton Obstruction

Clayton County Obstruction Attorney

Obstruction of a law enforcement officer can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The Statute governing Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer can be found at O.C.G.A. 16-10-24. If the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Clayton County, the Clayton County Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case, whereby if it is a felony charge, it will be sent to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office. The biggest difference between a misdemeanor obstruction case and the felony obstruction case is the maximum punishment if convicted. you have been arrested in Clayton County for Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, the first step is to be brought in front of a Clayton Magistrate Judge for a First Appearance hearing. At the First Appearance hearing, the Judge will read off the charges, notify you of  your rights, and possibly set a bond. An attorney can be present at this stage to advocate for a reasonable bond.

 

Clayton Misdemeanor Obstruction

Misdemeanor obstruction is when one knowingly and willingly obstructs or hinders a law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her lawful duties. This includes police officers, but also probation officers,  jailers, or game wardens.

There are a few ways one can “obstruct” an officer under Georgia law. First, you can prevent an officer from discharging their official duties by running away, arguing, lying, or doing something that makes it more difficult or completely prevents them from doing their job. This would be classified as misdemeanor obstruction in Georgia and is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You don’t have to make any physical contact with the officer to be charged with misdemeanor obstruction. Felony obstruction, on the other hand, typically does involve physical contact with an officer, or a threat of violence.

 

Clayton Felony Obstruction

Felony Obstruction is more serious under Georgia law and typically involves violence or threats of violence.  If you make violent contact with an officer in the process of he or she discharging their legal duties, or you threaten violence on an officer, you may be charged with felony obstruction of justice. Felony obstruction, both in Clayton and across the State, carries a mandatory one-to-five year sentence for a first offense. It is a mandatory 2 to 10 years on a second offense, and 3 to 15 years on a third.

 

Defenses to Obstruction in Clayton County and in Georgia

Both felony and misdemeanor Obstruction cases are taken seriously in the Clayton County justice system and throughout the State. There are, however, defenses. For example, it is not against the law to obstruct a police officer during an unlawful arrest. Under Georgia law, it is also not Obstruction of a Law Enforcement to Officer to not immediately respond to an officer’s order. In order to obstruct, there must first be a clear command by law enforcement, not simply a request. As you can see, Obstruction of Law Enforcement is a fact-based inquiry under Georgia law. If you have been charged with Obstruction, call us today at 404-581-0999 so we can get you into the office for a free consultation.

Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County

If you have been arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County, it is imperative that you hire an attorney quickly. Possession with Intent to Distribute cases often are won by filing a Motion to Suppress. These motions must be filed within 10 days of arraignment. If you do not properly file them, they are waived and you will potentially lose the ability to beat your case.

Once you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute in Clayton County, you will be brought over to see a Clayton County Magistrate Court judge within the first 24 hours. At this hearing, the Magistrate judge will read the charges to you and possibly set a bond.

The statute says It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, sell, or possession with the intent to distribute any controlled substance. O.C.G.A. 16-13-30(b).

What does the Clayton County District Attorney have to prove?

The Clayton County prosecutor must prove that the Defendant intended to sell or distribute the drug that is in his possession. If you are simply in possession of the drug but not intending to sell or distribute it, then you cannot be convicted of Possession with Intent.

However, even if you possess only a small amount of a drug, you can still be charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute. To prove intent to sell, the State would have to show evidence of baggies, a scale, large amount of currency or other drug paraphernalia. The Clayton County District Attorney could also show it through a prior conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute or expert testimony that the amount was consistent with someone selling it rather than just using for personal consumption.

If you are charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County, please call us at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. We are located in downtown Atlanta.

Fulton County Serious Injury by Vehicle

DUI and Reckless Driving charges are considered misdemeanors in Georgia. However, if you were arrested for DUI or Reckless Driving and there was an accident with serious injuries involved, it is likely you will be arrested for the felony offense of Serious Injury by Vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394.

 

A Serious Injury by Vehicle case in Fulton County will be prosecuted by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.  It is a felony charge, and the Fulton District Attorney has four years from the date of arrest to bring formal charges against you. Once your case is indicted or accused within the statute of limitations, your first court date will be your Arraignment date. This takes place at the Fulton County Courthouse located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303. At your arraignment date, you will have the opportunity to enter a Not Guilty plea and make a demand to see the evidence. It is imperative to have an attorney at this phase in the case because certain Constitutional motions must be filed within 10 days of this court date, or the issues are waived. This means that an attorney must file motions challenging the constitutionality of the stop and the arrest, within 10 days of the Arraignment date, or you will lose the ability to fight the case on these issues later on.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor DUI and a Serious Injury by Vehicle?

The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the punishment and the other collateral consequences. DUI and Reckless Driving are misdemeanor crimes, and thus carry a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail. On the other hand, Serious Injury by Vehicle is a felony charges which could result in much lengthier punishment as society views felonies, generally, more harshly. Specifically, for the felony charge of Serious Injury by Vehicle, the minimum punishment is 1 year in prison, while the maximum is 15 years. Certain factors like the blood alcohol content, or whether there was any prior convictions can elevate punishment significantly. Compare that to a Driving Under the Influence charge where the minimum punishment is just 24 hours along with conditions like community service and DUI school.

What about my License?

The Department of Driver Services also treats this crime harshly, and if you plea or are found guilty of Serious Injury by Vehicle in Fulton County or anywhere in the State, you are facing a driver’s license suspension for a period of three years in addition to the other requirements imposed by the Court.

The State does not have to prove you committed an unsafe act like speeding, cutting someone off, or hitting someone’s vehicle from the back. They can proceed only on the fact you were DUI and caused an injury under the statute, even if you were not the cause of the accident.

In order for the State to prove Serious Injury by Vehicle, they must prove the injuries were serious enough to fall under the statute. Courts have held broken bones, being unable to walk well for a period of time, and certainly brain damage, all to be sufficient for the state to proceed on felony charge.

Take the next step

If you or someone you know have been arrested for Serious Injury by Vehicle in Fulton County or the Atlanta area, it is imperative to meet with a law firm who has a high-level skill in DUI defense as well as in Serious Injury by Vehicle cases. Your future and your freedom depend on it. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

 

I was arrested with a warrant, and they did not bring me to court, what do I do?

If you have been arrested, booked into the County Jail, and there is a warrant, you must be brought before a Judge within 72 hours. If you are not brought before a judge within 72 hours, you must be released from custody.

Under O.C.G.A. § 17-4-26, it requires the law enforcement officer to “exercise reasonable diligence in bringing the person arrested before the judicial officer authorized to examine, commit, or receive bail and in any event to present the person arrested before a committing judicial office within 72 hours of arrest.” Further, “[a]n arrested person who is not notified before the hearing of the time and place of commitment hearing, shall be released.” Chisholm v. State, 231 Ga. App. 835, 840 (1998)

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a charge with a warrant, and they have not been brought before a judge, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

What to expect during a DUI stop in Chamblee, GA

By: Attorney Alex Henson

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Chamblee, GA you might be pulled over and investigated by police. What can you expect during a DUI stop?

First, the officer might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the question, but always be polite and respectful. Any statements you make could be used against you later in court.

Next, the officer might ask you to perform certain exercises to see if you are safe to drive. These exercises are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and your performance could be used against you in court later. The most common of these tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn. It is voluntary to participate in field sobriety tests. Refusing to participate cannot be used against you in court later.

The officer may decide that you are under the influence and less safe to drive. If the officer decides to arrest you, he or she may read you Georgia’s implied consent statement and request chemical testing of your breath or blood. These tests are voluntary, but refusal can result in your license being suspended.

If you are arrested for DUI in Chamblee, GA for DUI, your case will be sent to Chamblee Municipal Court. In the Chamblee Municipal Court, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case. However, if you decide you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred to the State Court of DeKalb County.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Chamblee, GA and would like a free consultation, call us at (404) 581-0999.

DUI IN LOVEJOY MUNICIPAL COURT

By: Erin Dohnalek

After an accused has been arrested for a DUI, if one of the following occurred, an accused MUST send the 30-day appeal letter to attempt to save his/her driver’s license:

  1. After the accused has been arrested, an officer on scene from the Lovejoy Police Department read him/her the correct “Implied Consent” notice and he/she refused to comply with either a blood, breath, or urine test in order to determine his/her blood alcohol content, OR
  2. The accused consented to a blood, breath, or urine test and the results showed that the blood alcohol content of the accused was above the legal limit.

If one of the following occurred, it is of vital importance to send the 30-day appeal of the license suspension letter prior to the deadline or risk the suspension of the accused person’s driver’s license. The suspension could last as long as 1 year.

After sending the 30-day letter, the accused must also be ready to defend his/her criminal allegations. The penalties for a DUI conviction are serious, thus, it is of great importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands all of the elements of the offense, the affirmative defenses to such a charge, and all possible options for the accused.

According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391, a person commits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when it renders them less safe to drive, the person’s alcohol concentration is .08 or more at any time within 3 hours after such driving occurred, or there is any amount of marijuana or other controlled substances present in the accused person’s blood, breath, or urine.

Once the Lovejoy Police Department transfers the criminal charge to the Lovejoy Solicitor’s Office, the criminal case will begin at a proceeding known as an arraignment. There are a few options when the case has landed here at the Lovejoy Municipal Court. Such options include:

  • The accused may plead guilty to DUI, which, for a first DUI conviction, usually will result in 12 months of probation, which requires completion of a Risk Reduction course and at least 40 hours of community service;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a bench trial with the municipal court judge;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a jury trial. This will result in the case being bound over to the Clayton County State Court, OR
  • At arraignment, the accused has the option to speak to the Lovejoy City Solicitor in a pretrial conference to discuss other possible options, such as a reduction from the original DUI charge.

Due to the complexity of a driving under the influence criminal case, as well as the related license suspension proceeding, it is of great importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is skilled at defending such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients and have vast experience defending such charges. Therefore, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Should I Pay My Speeding Ticket?

It happens. You’re running late for work and you don’t realize you’re pressing down on the gas as the numbers on your speedometer tick up. Blue lights come out of nowhere, and you’re faced with a speeding ticket. Some luck. While you might be inclined to just pay the ticket and get it over with, take a moment to consider the implications. Paying a speeding ticket has the same effect as entering a guilty plea, so it is important to be mindful of the possible consequences.

If you were speeding 14 miles per hour or fewer over the speed limit, this ticket will not result in any points on your license and will not be reported to the Department of Driver Services. If you were speeding over 14 mph above the speed limit, but less than 19 mph over, your ticket is considered a “super speeder” ticket, and entering a plea to that will result in 2 points on your license, the ticket is reported to DDS, and DDS assesses an additional $200 fine. Speeding 19-23 mph over the speed limit results in 3 points, the ticket is reported to DDS, and you are hit with the $200 fine from DDS. 24-33 mph over is 4 points, along with the other penalties outlined above, and speeding 34 mph or more over the speed limit results in 6 points, the ticket is reported, and you get the additional $200 fine.

Points on your license can have an adverse impact on the cost of your insurance, and getting 15 or more points within a 24 month period can result in a license suspension. If you are under 21, there may be additional penalties to paying speeding tickets. Before you pay that ticket and move on, make sure you understand the risks involved in doing so. We can help you negotiate reductions with the solicitor to help you get the best possible outcome when you are stuck with a speeding ticket.

If you have been charged with speeding, it is important to understand your options. We want to make sure you are educated and empowered throughout the criminal justice process. Give us a call for a free consultation at 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine A. Edmonds.