Yes, Criminal Cases are Still Moving Forward in Georgia during COVID-19

You may have received a traffic citation, or a citation for misdemeanor possession of marijuana or theft by shoplifting. The officer may have released you on citation instead of taking you to a local detention facility for arrest. This doesn’t mean your case should be ignored, or is not a big deal, now. Cases are being heard in most municipal courts in the State. In fact, many municipalities and counties may ask you to come in and provide fingerprints at a later date when conditions are more safe.

In the past week, our firm has been present for shoplifting, DUI, and marijuana cases in Roswell, Marietta, Acworth, Kennesaw, Douglasville, Sandy Springs, Jonesboro, Forest Park, and many other municipal courts across the state.

Having an attorney represent you at this time can prevent you from having to appear and potentially risk your health. An attorney can also work with the prosecutor to try and get you the best possible outcomes during this time, working on lowering fines, reducing community service, and preventing other activities that may put you at risk for coronavirus exposure.

Our office is available right now to discuss your case with you. Call us at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. We understand you may be feeling nervous or scared during these uncertain times, and we are here to help.  

Georgia Criminal Law – Criminal Damage to Property

There are several laws in Georgia intended to protect property in the interest of human life and safety. This blog article serves to explore the nature of these offenses and discuss the possible punishment if convicted.  

Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree

O.C.G.A. § 16-7-22 defines the offense as when a person:

(1) Knowingly and without authority interferes with any property in a manner so as to endanger human life; or

(2) Knowingly and without authority and by force or violence interferes with the operation of any system of public communication, public transportation, sewerage, drainage, water supply, gas, power, or other public utility service or with any constituent property thereof.

Criminal damage to property in the first degree is a crime against the State involving the unauthorized interference with property in a manner that endangers human life. The phrase requiring defendant’s interference with the property be done “in a manner so as to endanger human life” means reckless endangerment rather than actual endangerment. As a result, successful prosecution of this offense does not require proof that the person actually injured the owner of the property. Furthermore, the State does not have to prove value or legal title of the property. It is enough the prosecution prove the person had a legal right to possess or occupy the property that was damaged. Some examples of this offense includes: firing gunshots into an apartment, dwelling, or vehicle, setting fire to a building, and throwing a rock at vehicle from overpass. It is important to note that this offense may serve as the basis for felony murder.

Any person convicted of this offense is guilty of a felony and may be imprisoned between 1 and 10 years.

Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree

O.C.G.A. § 16-7-23 provides, [a] person commits the offense of criminal damage to property in the second degree when he:

(1) Intentionally damages any property of another person without his consent and the damage thereto exceeds $500.00; or

(2) Recklessly or intentionally, by means of fire or explosive, damages property of another person.

Criminal damage to property in second degree is a general intent crime, which requires only a general intent to do the act, i.e., damaging another person’s property. Under section (1), the value of property is required to be proven and the value has to be greater than $500. In assessing value, the focus is on the value of the tangible item itself, not the total expenses of the owner in connection with property damage. Value does not have to be proven, however, if charged under section (2).

A person convicted of criminal damage to property in the second degree is guilty of a felony and may be imprisoned for 1 to 5 years.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one are facing criminal prosecution, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized knowledge and experience in handling Criminal Damage to Property cases in multiple jurisdictions across Georgia.

Georgia Criminal Law Aggravated Battery Attorney

Georgia Criminal Law – Aggravated Battery

The Offense

A person commits the offense of aggravated battery when he or she maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him/her of a member of his/her body, by rendering a member of his/her body useless, or by disfiguring his/her body or a member thereof. O.C.G.A. § 16-5-24.

 Intent

In order to sustain a conviction for aggravated battery, the State will have to prove the defendant acted with a particular mental state. Here, the mental state is “malice.” A person acts maliciously within the meaning of the aggravated-battery statute when he/she acts intentionally and without justification or serious provocation.  Hillsman v. State, 341 Ga.App. 543 (2017). The State is not required to show he/she intended the specific results of his/her conduct; rather, state is required to prove only that defendant acted maliciously when he engaged in that conduct. Bizzard v. State, 312 Ga.App. 185 (2011).  

Injury

What separates aggravated battery from the lesser-included offense of battery is the degree of injury suffered by the victim. Georgia courts have held the following injuries sufficient to constitute an aggravated battery conviction:

  • Nerve Damage
  • Memory Loss
  • Loss of Normal Brain Functioning
  • Vision Loss
  • Broken Finger, Nose, Teeth, Ears, and/or Wrist
  • Severe Bruising

The injuries do not need to be permanent (may be temporary) but must be greater than a superficial wound.

Punishment

Aggravated battery is a felony offense. As a result, the minimum punishment is one-year imprisonment.  The sentencing judge, however, has the discretion to impose a higher sentence depending on many factors, but especially the person’s criminal history and the existence of aggravating circumstances. Furthermore, Georgia law creates different degrees of punishment for an aggravated battery conviction if the victim falls into a certain classification.

  • Aggravated Battery – 1 to 20 Years Imprisonment
  • Aggravated Battery Upon a Public Safety Officer (While Engaged in Their Official Duties) – 10 to 20 Years Imprisonment and $2,000 Fine
    • If Defendant is 17 Years Old, Minimum is 3 Years
  • Aggravated Battery Against Person Who is 65 or Older – 5 to 20 Years Imprisonment
  • Aggravated Battery While in a Public Transit Vehicle or Station – 5 to 20 Years Imprisonment
  • Aggravated Battery Against a Student or Teacher (or Other School Personnel) Within a School Safety Zone – 5 to 20 Years Imprisonment
  • Aggravated Battery Against a Family Member – 3 to 20 Years Imprisonment

Contact Us

If you or a loved one is facing criminal prosecution, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized knowledge and experience in handling criminal cases in various jurisdictions across Georgia.

Jasper County Georgia Criminal Defense

If you have been charged with a crime in Jasper County, then you have come to the right place. We specialize in criminal defense and stand ready to defend you. The first question that needs to be answered is where your case will be heard. If you are charged with a felony, then your case will begin in magistrate court and finish in superior court. The first appearance, initial bond hearing, and preliminary hearing are all heard by a magistrate judge at the Jasper County Jail located at 1551 GA-212 W, Monticello, GA 31064. After these initial hearings, your case will be transferred to Jasper County Superior Court in the Jasper County Courthouse located at 126 W Greene St., Monticello, GA 31064. The large courthouse which is on the Monticello town square, houses the Superior Court, Magistrate Court, Juvenile Court, and Probate Court of Jasper County.

Unlike some of the larger metropolitan counties, Jasper County does not have a state court so even misdemeanor offenses will be heard in the Superior Court if you wish to have a jury trial. If you are charged with a serious misdemeanor, then your case will go straight to Superior Court. Otherwise, your case will likely begin in Jasper County Probate Court where you can seek to negotiate lesser charges or have a bench trial where the judge hears the evidence and renders a decision.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Monticello, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Monticello located at 115 E Greene St., Monticello, GA 31064.

No matter where your case originates in Jasper County, we stand ready to defend you against any criminal charge.  Call us today at 404-581-0999 to ensure you get the best outcome possible.

Walton County Georgia Violent Crime

If you are charged with a violent crime in Walton County, then you have come to the right place.  We have defended hundreds of violent charges ranging from simple battery to murder.  Walton County has no shortage of these cases, and we are often called to assist in defending these violent crime allegations.

The first step is to determine your charges which are usually stacked meaning that you can have 3 or more charges for one just one punch, kick or push.  The extent of the injury will largely dictate what you are charged with, but the alleged victim’s status can also play a role.  The alleged victim’s age, occupation, relationship to you, and the location of the incident all factor into the potential charge and corresponding penalties.

Regardless of your exact charge, we stand ready to assist in defending your case in Walton County.  If the alleged victim made a false allegation, then we look to the discredit the charge by presenting alibi evidence or witnesses who were present at the time of the alleged attack.  If there are no other witnesses, then it is just his or her word versus your word.  In those situations, we work to build up your character through your contacts in the community.  Simultaneously, we work to find discredit the alleged victim.  The reality of police work is that the person who makes the initial outcry (aka the 911 call) is usually the one who gets the labeled the victim while the other party gets hauled off to jail.  Of course, the officer is trained to look for injuries, but a savvy victim can injure himself or herself prior to the officer’s arrival just to add credibility to his or her story so injuries do not automatically equal guilt.

If you are not denying the violence, but instead seek to argue self-defense, then we argue that your actions were justified.  Georgia is a “Stand Your Ground” state that does not require you to retreat and allows you to defend yourself, your property, or even other people from what you believe to be an imminent threat of harm.  The amount of force used in those situations depends on the amount of force threatened by the other person.  These decisions are often made in the blink of an eye, and sometimes what you believed to be a threat turns out to be a cellphone instead of a gun.  Luckily, a reasonable mistake is still protected under the law.  How do you prove your actions were reasonable?  That requires the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

If you are charged with a crime of violence in Walton County, call our office today at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

Georgia Criminal Law – Felony Murder

Georgia has several laws regarding homicide – the killing of another person. There are, however, many subtle nuances and distinctions separating murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and felony murder from each other. This article aims to explore the offense of felony murder, limitations on prosecution, and punishment if convicted.

The Offense

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1(c), a person commits the offense of felony murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

Intent

“Malice” required for malice murder conviction consists of intent to kill and lack of provocation or justification. In the context of the statute on murder, a specific intent to kill is “express malice,” whereas an intent to commit acts with such a reckless disregard for human life as to show an abandoned and malignant heart amounts to “implied malice.” But, in felony murder, malice aforethought is implied by the intent to commit the underlying felony. Premeditation and/or motive is not an element of murder in Georgia.

Underlying Felony

The underlying felony for a felony murder conviction must be inherently dangerous to human life; for a felony to be considered inherently dangerous, it must be dangerous per se, or it must by its circumstances create a foreseeable risk of death. Examples include but are not limited to: robbery, rape, kidnapping, felony fleeing, burglary, arson, firearms offenses, narcotics offenses, and aggravated assault. In determining whether a felony is inherently dangerous, the court does not necessarily consider the elements of the felony in the abstract, but instead considers the circumstances under which the felony was committed.

Causation

To support conviction for felony murder, the State has to show that defendant’s commission of the alleged predicate felonies was a proximate cause of victim’s death. Proximate causation exists if the felony the defendant committed directly and materially contributed to the happening of a subsequent accruing immediate cause of death, or if the homicide was committed within the res gestae of the felony and is one of the incidental, probable consequences of the execution of the design to commit the predicate felony. Hood v. State, 303 Ga. 420 (2018).

Punishment

In Georgia, a felony murder conviction results in either life in prison (with or without parole) or the death penalty.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one is facing criminal prosecution, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized knowledge and experience in handling criminal cases in various jurisdictions across Georgia.

Georgia Criminal Law – Burglary and Home Invasion

Every state has enacted laws prohibiting the entering the home of another without permission of the occupant. This article serves to explore Georgia specific laws regarding this conduct and the penalties if convicted.

Burglary – The Offense

O.C.G.A § 16-7-1, a person commits the offense of burglary in the first degree when, “without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another.”

A person commits the offense of burglary in the second degree when, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant building, structure, railroad car, watercraft, or aircraft.

“Dwelling” is defined as any building, structure, or portion thereof which is designed or intended for occupancy for residential use. Burglary is a specific-intent crime; the state must prove that the defendant intended to commit a felony after making an unauthorized entry. Dillard v. State, 323 Ga.App. 333 (2013). Furthermore, the offense of burglary does not require proof that defendant’s entry into victim’s apartment was forced; rather, all that is required is finding that the defendant entered or remained in apartment without victim’s authority, with intent to commit felony or theft therein. Dupree v. State, 303 Ga. 885 (2018).

Burglary – The Punishment

A person who commits the offense of burglary in the first degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years. Upon the second conviction for burglary in the first degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two nor more than 20 years. Upon the third and all subsequent convictions for burglary in the first degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 25 years.

A person who commits the offense of burglary in the second degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years. Upon the second and all subsequent convictions for burglary in the second degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than eight years.

Home Invasion – The Offense

O.C.G.A. § 16-7-5 creates a separate criminal offense of home invasion in the first degree when a person, “without authority and with intent to commit a forcible felony therein and while in possession of a deadly weapon or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury, he or she enters the dwelling house of another while such dwelling house is occupied by any person with authority to be present therein.”

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the second degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible misdemeanor therein and while in possession of a deadly weapon or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury, he or she enters the dwelling house of another while such dwelling house is occupied by any person with authority to be present therein.

As we can see, the difference between first degree home invasion and second degree home invasion relates to intent, where the former requires proof of intent to commit a felony and the latter requires proof of intent to commit a misdemeanor.

Home Invasion – The Punishment

A person convicted of the offense of home invasion in the first degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years and by a fine of not more than $100,000.00. A person convicted of the offense of home invasion in the second degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 20 years and by a fine of not more than $100,000.00.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one are facing criminal prosecution, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized knowledge and experience in handling criminal cases in various jurisdictions across Georgia.

Fayette County Georgia Violent Crime Attorney

If you are charged with a violent crime in Fayette County, then you have come to the right place.  We have defended hundreds of violent charges ranging from simple battery to murder.  Fayette County has no shortage of these cases, and we are often called to assist in defending these violent crime allegations.

The first step is to determine your charges which are usually stacked meaning that you can have 3 or more charges for one just one punch, kick or push.  The extent of the injury will largely dictate what you are charged with, but the alleged victim’s status can also play a role.  The alleged victim’s age, occupation, relationship to you, and the location of the incident all factor into the potential charge and corresponding penalties.

Regardless of your exact charge, we stand ready to assist in defending your case in Fayette County.  If the alleged victim made a false allegation, then we look to the discredit the charge by presenting alibi evidence or witnesses who were present at the time of the alleged attack.  If there are no other witnesses, then it is just his or her word versus your word.  In those situations, we work to build up your character through your contacts in the community.  Simultaneously, we work to find discredit the alleged victim.  The reality of police work is that the person who makes the initial outcry (aka the 911 call) is usually the one who gets the labeled the victim while the other party gets hauled off to jail.  Of course, the officer is trained to look for injuries, but a savvy victim can injure himself or herself prior to the officer’s arrival just to add credibility to his or her story so injuries do not automatically equal guilt.

If you are not denying the violence, but instead seek to argue self-defense, then we argue that your actions were justified.  Georgia is a “Stand Your Ground” state that does not require you to retreat and allows you to defend yourself, your property, or even other people from what you believe to be an imminent threat of harm.  The amount of force used in those situations depends on the amount of force threatened by the other person.  These decisions are often made in the blink of an eye, and sometimes what you believed to be a threat turns out to be a cellphone instead of a gun.  Luckily, a reasonable mistake is still protected under the law.  How do you prove your actions were reasonable?  That requires the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

If you are charged with a crime of violence in Fayette County, call our office today at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

Butts County Georgia DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Butts County, you have come to the right place.  Our firm has a strong record at successfully defending all kinds of DUIs ranging from alcohol to marijuana to prescription drugs cases.  Butts County is known to aggressively patrol their roads and prosecute these DUI arrests, but their aggressiveness also leads to many wrongful arrests.

As with most DUIs, the initial stop of the vehicle is usually based on an alleged violation of some traffic law like speeding or failure to maintain lane.  A technical violation such as window tint or expired tag can also serve as the basis of the stop, but there’s nothing inherently unsafe about a technical violation. Therefore, a skilled defense attorney will argue that a technical violation is not evidence of impaired driving.  If someone is so impaired that they are unable to drive safely, then why is it that the officer could not find one single traffic infraction to support their assumption that you are impaired!?  A very reasonable theory is that you were not impaired, the officer made some false assumptions, and you should be found not guilty of DUI.  Piece of cake, right?  Well, there is actually a lot of training that goes into DUI detection, and your attorney needs to understand that training before he can skillfully use that training against the officer.  The law is constantly evolving, and the training that goes into DUI enforcement is updated every year or two.  So you need a lawyer who has performed the tests himself/herself (in a classroom setting), and you need the best possible DUI attorney in Butts County.

So if you have been charged with a DUI in Butts County, then you need to call our office today at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

Criminal Defense in Newton County, Georgia

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, then you have come to the right place.  We specialize in criminal defense and stand ready to defend you.  The first question that needs to be answered is where your case will be heard.  If you are charged with a felony, then your case will begin in magistrate court and finish in superior court.  The first appearance, initial bond hearing, and preliminary hearing are all heard by a magistrate judge at the Newton County Jail located at 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014.  After these initial hearings, your case will be transferred to Newton County Superior Court in the Newton County Judicial Center located at 1132 Usher St, Covington, GA 30014.  The Judicial Center also houses the Magistrate Court, Juvenile Court, and Probate Court of Newton County.

Unlike some of the larger metropolitan counties, Newton County does not have a state court so even misdemeanor offenses will be heard in the Superior Court.  If you are charged with a serious misdemeanor, then your case will go straight to Superior Court.  Otherwise, your case will likely begin in Newton County Probate Court or one of the three municipalities in Newton County:  Covington, Porterdale, or Oxford.  

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Covington, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Covington located at 1143 Oak Street, Covington, GA 30015.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Porterdale, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Porterdale located at 2800 Main Street, Porterdale, GA 30014.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Oxford, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Oxford located at 110 West Clark Street, Oxford, GA 30054.

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, call us today at 404-581-0999 to ensure you get the best outcome possible.