My loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, what happens now?

Everyone arrested for a felony within Fulton County will be taken to the Fulton County Jail or Rice Street to be booked in. After someone is booked, they will be scheduled for First Appearance, typically the next day. The purpose of First Appearance is to inform you of the charges and set a bond. First Appearance is heard by a Magistrate Court judge.

There are four factors that the judge will consider when setting or denying a bond. The factors are that the accused 1) is not a risk of fleeing the jurisdiction or failing to appear in court, 2) doesn’t pose a significant danger to any person or the community, 3) isn’t a risk of committing a new felony, and 4) is not a threat to intimidate witnesses or otherwise obstruct justice. The judge will also take the person’s criminal history, any history of failing to appear in court, and the nature of the allegations into account when considering bond. Bond may be denied based on the type of charge. There are certain crimes – e.g. murder, armed robbery, sex crimes, etc. – that can only be heard by a Superior Court judge.

If bond was denied and your loved one is still incarcerated, they are entitled to a preliminary or probable cause hearing. This is when the State has to bring witnesses to prove the allegations by a probable cause standard or that there is a reasonable belief that the accused committed the alleged act. It is very important to have an experienced advocate to cross-examine and challenge the State’s witnesses and evidence.

If your loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, please give us a call at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in Gwinnett County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in Gwinnett County, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI school, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Gwinnett County, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in Dekalb County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in Dekalb County, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI school, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Dekalb County, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Why the Peach State Lawyers Should Represent You

The Law Office of W. Scott Smith, PC is a firm of devoted criminal defense attorneys with decades of combined experience whose professionalism, skill, and knowledge make them the perfect firm to zealously advocate for you. This team is not just made up of great attorneys and staff, but great people, too.

Sherdia is our courteous, organized, and hardworking paralegal. She is reliable and efficient, and is truly the powerhouse behind the entire operation. She works diligently to make sure that clients are well taken care of, and is an effective liaison between clients and attorneys when you need quick assistance. She is a joy to know and work with, and a true blessing in the office.

King is our billing manager. He is mindful and empathetic to client billing needs. He will work with you to make sure that your payment plan works for your lifestyle and ensure that you receive the highest caliber of quality (and affordability) in your representation by the Peach State firm.

Beth is our calendar clerk and law student intern. Her organization and focus ensures that at your Court dates, your attorney is present and prepared to give you the best defense and advice. On the very date of this posting (12/15/23), she graduated from law school and it won’t be long before she is in a courtroom fighting for you. Congratulations, Beth.
Marybeth is one of our experienced associate attorneys. She spent several years zealously advocating for indigent folks in the Fulton County Public Defender’s Office, and since joining our firm, has continued to extend the same grace and compassion to her clients that inspired us to bring her aboard in the first place. She works tirelessly for her clients, and if she represents you, you can rest assured that you will receive knowledgeable and empathetic counsel.

Mary is another one of our distinguished associates. She is loveably referred to as a “bulldog” for her passionate and zealous presence in the Courtroom. She has a reputation for being tireless and hard working, and willing to do whatever it takes to represent her clients. Although she may be a bulldog in the Courtroom, she is cherished by her clients who see her as their devoted champion, skilled advocate, and friend.

Erin is our last (but certainly not least) associate attorney. Although she may be a young attorney, her skill, tact, and knowledge of the law puts her in a league all her own. She walks into a courtroom and can outshine attorneys with decades more experience because of her professionalism, courtesy, insight, and courage to fight for her clients. Her clients know her as a counselor who is dependable, hard working, and compassionate. She is an extraordinary attorney, and an even better friend.

Mike and Scott are the partners of Peach State Law. They are passionate and distinguished attorneys with the skill and knowledge to back up their commendable reputations. They advocate for clients charged with the most heinous of crimes, and when they do, they make it look easy. Their finesse in commanding a Courtroom is a talent eclipsed only by their devotion to their associates and staff. They are the best mentors this attorney could have asked for.

And why should you believe me? Because I had the opportunity, the privilege, even, to get to know each and every one of them as an associate attorney myself. I have grown to know and learn from each of them in kind, and they have made me a better attorney and a better person. There is no firm more devoted, hardworking, or knowledgeable in Georgia. This firm is made up of a team that values, above all else, their clients and doing the hard and courageous job of defending the Constitution. Their commitment to you will be unwavering, their diligence and devotion to your defense will be their number one priority. You simply could not ask for more from a law firm, and this attorney could not have asked for more from this family. When you are evaluating your options for legal representation, believe me when I say that these are the good people you want behind you, counseling you, and guiding you. Take it from someone who knows.

Teen and Young Adult Traffic Tickets in Alpharetta Municipal Court

If you are a high school or college aged student with a traffic ticket pending in Alpharetta Municipal Court, it is important to note that young drivers have much different penalties in Georgia traffic court than adult drivers. There are several traffic citations in Georgia that can have harsh consequences to those convicted if under the age of 21.

The following offenses will suspend a driver’s license if the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the conviction:

  • Speeding 24-mph or more over the limit
  • Hit and Run
  • Racing
  • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude
  • Reckless Driving
  • Improper Passing on a Hill or a Curve
  • Unlawful Passing of a School Bus
  • Driving under the Influence
  • Aggressive Driving

In addition to the offenses listed above, if the driver is under the age of 18, accumulating 4 or more points in any 12-month period will also suspend driving privileges. This can occur by being cited in two separate incidents. For example, if a driver is first convicted of Following too Closely at one point, and within the year, a minor speeding ticket, this would put the teen driver over four points, thereby suspending his or her license.

Simply paying the ticket and not attending court is considered a conviction and will count towards the points accumulation.

In the above scenarios, there is no limited permit available for driving privileges. The State will issue a minimum 6-month license suspension. There is one exception to that rule: if the driver is convicted of driving 24-mph over the speeding ticket, and they are between the ages of 18 and 21, the sentencing judge may issue a limited permit in their discretion.

In addition to the license suspension, penalties for under 21 teen and young adult drivers may include probation, driving classes, community service, and fines (and jail, in some scenarios like hit and run, fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, DUI, and more).

If your child is charged with a traffic ticket in Alpharetta Municipal Court, the court appearance will take place at 3690 Highway 9. Building B. Milton, GA 30004. In all traffic and misdemeanor cases, you are entitled to a jury trial. Since Alpharetta Municipal Court does not have jury trials, the jury trial would take place at Fulton County State Court at a later date.

Due to the consequences of traffic tickets on teen and young adult drivers, it is highly beneficial to consult with an experienced traffic defense lawyer who practices in Alpharetta Municipal Court. A skilled criminal defense lawyer knows the repercussions of traffic tickets on under 21 drivers, and can potentially negotiate amended charges and reduced penalties as well as have a jury trial on the charges. This will not only protect young drivers from license suspensions, but can also avoid points being assessed and reported to insurance companies, thereby avoiding rate increases.

If you are a driver under the age of 21 years old, or the parent of one, with a case pending in Alpharetta Municipal Court, reach out to the lawyers at W. Scott Smith for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

 

Rape

Rape in Henry County is a serious crime in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1 defines rape as follows:

  1. A person commits the offense of rape when he has carnal knowledge of:
    1. A female forcibly and against her will or:
    2. A female who is less than ten years of age.

Carnal knowledge in rape occurs when there is any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.  Any penetration, however slight, is sufficient and can be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence. The fact that the person allegedly raped is the wife of the defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of rape.

How do you define “force” in a rape case in Georgia? Force means acts of physical force, threats of death or physical bodily harm, or mental coercion, such as intimidation. Lack of resistance, induced by fear, is force.

The elements of Rape in Georgia are 1) penetration, 2) force, and 3) against her will. If the person is underage, then force is implied. If the person is above the age of consent, but due to mental incompetence or severe intoxication, then finding of constructive force based on penetration.

The law on Rape in Georgia does not require physical injury or semen.

A person convicted of Rape can be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, by imprisonment for life with the possibility of parole or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment to be followed by probation for life. Any person convicted of rape is subject to the sentencing provisions of O.C.G.A. §§ 17-10-6.1 and 17-10-7.

In addition, the person could be on the Sex Offender Registry for life.

A person convicted of rape can also be held to account for civil liability. Furthermore, if the rape was committed by the defendant while he was acting in his scope of his employment, his employer may also be held liable.

If you face charges in Georgia for Rape, it is imperative that you do not make any statements to law enforcement or to anyone else and immediately seek help from an experienced attorney handling Rape cases in Georgia. You must protect your rights and take this matter very seriously.

The statute of limitation for a prosecution of rape is 15 years.

Here is what you should do if arrested for rape in Henry County.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries rape cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle rape cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles rape cases in Georgia.
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the 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 rape, 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 that might relate to the child making the accusation. This includes clothing, photos, video or any other tangible object.
    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 rape 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 rape in  Henry County.

  1. Never talk to the alleged victim or the family.
  2. Never have any contact with the alleged victim through a 3rd party or through social media.
  3. Never talk to law enforcement without an attorney present.
  4. Never talk to a child welfare agency or any other governmental agency without an attorney present.

 

I would be happy to meet with you any time for a free consultation to discuss your case, your rights and your defenses to these allegations.

Call me at 404-581-0999 and let’s schedule a time to meet and discuss your case.

It is your life, your criminal record and you deserve the best representation possible.

Teen and Young Adult Traffic Tickets in Roswell Municipal Court

If you are a high school or college aged student with a traffic ticket pending in Roswell Municipal Court, it is important to note that young drivers have much different penalties in Georgia traffic court than adult drivers. There are several traffic citations in Georgia that can have harsh consequences to those convicted if under the age of 21.

The following offenses will suspend a driver’s license if the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the conviction:

  • Speeding 24-mph or more over the limit
  • Hit and Run
  • Racing
  • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude
  • Reckless Driving
  • Improper Passing on a Hill or a Curve
  • Unlawful Passing of a School Bus
  • Driving under the Influence
  • Aggressive Driving

In addition to the offenses listed above, if the driver is under the age of 18, accumulating 4 or more points in any 12-month period will also suspend driving privileges. This can occur by being cited in two separate incidents. For example, if a driver is first convicted of Following too Closely at one point, and within the year, a minor speeding ticket, this would put the teen driver over four points, thereby suspending his or her license.

Simply paying the ticket and not attending court is considered a conviction and will count towards the points accumulation.

In the above scenarios, there is no limited permit available for driving privileges. The State will issue a minimum 6-month license suspension. There is one exception to that rule: if the driver is convicted of driving 24-mph over the speeding ticket, and they are between the ages of 18 and 21, the sentencing judge may issue a limited permit in their discretion.

In addition to the license suspension, penalties for under 21 teen and young adult drivers may include probation, driving classes, community service, and fines (and jail, in some scenarios like hit and run, fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, DUI, and more).

If your child is charged with a traffic ticket in Roswell Municipal Court, the court appearance will take place at 38 Hill Street, Roswell, Georgia. Judge Brian Hansford is the presiding Judge of Roswell Municipal Court. In all traffic and misdemeanor cases, you are entitled to a jury trial. Since Roswell Municipal Court does not have jury trials, the jury trial would take place at Fulton County State Court at a later date.

Due to the consequences of traffic tickets on teen and young adult drivers, it is highly beneficial to consult with an experienced traffic defense lawyer who practices in Roswell Municipal Court. A skilled criminal defense lawyer knows the repercussions of traffic tickets on under 21 drivers, and can potentially negotiate amended charges and reduced penalties as well as have a jury trial on the charges. This will not only protect young drivers from license suspensions, but can also avoid points being assessed and reported to insurance companies, thereby avoiding rate increases.

If you are a driver under the age of 21 years old, or the parent of one, with a case pending in Roswell Municipal Court, reach out to the lawyers at W. Scott Smith for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Aggravated Stalking in Cherokee County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, aggravated stalking is charged as a felony. It is set out in O.C.G.A. § 16-5-91. This statute states that an individual commits aggravated stalking when:

  • He/she violates a “no contact” or “stay away” provision of their bond;
  • He/she violates a temporary restraining order, temporary protective order, permanent protective order, preliminary injunction, or permanent injunction ordering them to have no contact with the alleged victim;
  • He/she violates a “no contact” or “stay away” condition of their pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole; and
  • The individual follows, places under surveillance, or contacts the alleged victim, without his/her consent, for the purpose of harassing and intimidating.

In Georgia, there is no requirement that the accused has to have actual notice of the “no contact” provision as a condition of bond, pretrial release, probation/ parole, or from a temporary protective order. The contact alone is enough, even if the accused was not aware of the “no contact” order. See Revere v. State, 277 Ga. App. 393 (2006). “Contact” can also be established by phone, email, or mail. It does not need to be in-person contact in order to be sufficient to convict for aggravated stalking. See Murden v. State, 258 Ga. App. 585 (2002).

Additionally, even if the alleged victim allowed contact, or initiated contact, after the “no contact” provision was ordered, that does not mean that an accused can no longer be prosecuted for aggravated stalking. An accused can be prosecuted if the alleged victim changes his/her mind, and decides that they no longer want contact with the accused, if at the time of the contact, there is a “no contact” provision in place. See Revere v. State, 277 Ga. App. 393 (2006).

Finally, a single incident of stalking is not sufficient to convict an accused of aggravated stalking. There must be a pattern of harassing and intimidating conduct, and generally, a single incident alone is not enough. See State v. Burke, 287 Ga. 377 (2010).

Sentencing:

Any individual convicted of this crime in Cherokee County will be sentenced to 1-10 years in prison, and fined up to $10,000. However, the reduced charge of aggravated stalking is characterized as a “violation of a criminal protective order.” This charge is a misdemeanor and the sentencing is much less punitive. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate sentencing to fall under the misdemeanor statute.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the punishment for aggravated stalking, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of this crime, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated stalking in Cherokee County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Decriminalized weed does not mean legal weed

Some cities in Georgia, including Atlanta, have decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce of weed. However, it is still very much illegal in the state of Georgia. So, what does that mean? It means that police officers and prosecutors have a choice; they can charge you with a city ordinance violation OR a violation of state law. The difference is the penalty. In Atlanta, the city ordinance violation for possession of weed less than one ounce is a $75 fine. The state law violation is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 12 months to serve and a $1,000 fine.

Any drug charge can have serious consequences, even simple weed charge. For example, it can affect your job, housing, or driving privileges. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense it is important to have a knowledgeable advocate on your side. Call for a free consultation today.

I have a case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta and I missed a Court date. What do I do?

If you have a traffic or misdemeanor citation pending in the Municipal Court of Atlanta and you received notice that you missed a Court date, there is a chance that, unless you act quickly, your driver’s license will be suspended. Don’t panic! People make mistakes, forget to mark their calendars, pay a ticket online, or have moved and did not receive notice of the Court date. You can get your license reinstated or prevent the license from going into suspension by following these steps:

The quickest way to resolve the issue is to go directly to the Courthouse and fill out a “Waiver of Arraignment” form in the front office. These forms are located on the right side of the ground floor of the Courthouse, right past the metal detectors. It is in a room past the clerk’s windows, with vending machines and a snack bar. The form is located on a table in the front of the room. You can fill out the form with your name, citation number, and address. Once you complete the form, you must turn it into the clerk’s window, located immediately to the left of the vending machines. Once you submit this form, the Court will place you on a calendar so that you can come to Court to address the failure to appear. Once you appear in Court, the Judge will lift the FTA and issue you a form that you take to the Department of Drivers Services. Once DDS receives that form, the suspension or pending suspension on your driver’s license will be lifted. It is very important to remember that if your license has already been suspended, you MAY NOT DRIVE to the Courthouse, and will need to arrange alternate transportation.

You should also keep in mind that even if the FTA is lifted, your citation may not be resolved, and you may still need to go back to Court to resolve the case with a plea, trial, or diversion agreement.

If you live out of State or you are not able to attend Court, you should consider hiring an attorney who can complete this process for you. Do not put off addressing your FTA, and seek to handle it as quickly as possible. Failures to do so can result in consequences such as fees, warrants, and/or the loss of driving privileges. If you have an FTA in the Municipal Court of Atlanta, give us a call for a free consultation. Our office is only blocks away, and we can help you address the FTA and get your driving privileges reinstated. For questions or a free consultation, call us at 404-581-0999.