DeKalb County – Aggravated Assault by Strangulation

We see it happening more and more often in DeKalb County: Battery-Family Violence charges being upgraded to Aggravated Assault-Strangulation. This means that the person originally arrested for a misdemeanor, can now be facing not only the misdemeanor of Battery-Family Violence, but also the serious felony offense of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation.

Why was my Battery Family Violence case transferred to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office?

Officers initially make the arrest decision, but prosecutors have the ability to draft up indictments to present to a grand jury based on the facts within the officer’s original report. If there is any mention that the person placed their hands on the victim’s neck, it is possible and probable that the case will be upgraded to a felony offense of Aggravated Assault-Strangulation. Given the fact that it is a felony, the case will be sent to be prosecuted in felony court also known as DeKalb County Superior Court, by attorneys who prosecute felony cases.

What is Aggravated Assault Strangulation?

Georgia law states that a person commits the offense of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation when he or she assaults with any object, device, or instrument, which when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation. There are defenses in these cases as Georgia no longer defines what Strangulation means. The Georgia statute used to say that “Strangulation” is defined as impeding the normal breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck of such person or by obstructing the nose and mouth of such person. Without that definition on the books anymore, it is very fact specific on whether or not the State can actually prove strangulation. In most cases, where there has been no loss of conscious, it will be difficult for the State to prove actual strangulation. Therefore, when the facts state that someone’s hands were placed on another’s neck, then arguably the person has committed a misdemeanor battery instead of the serious felony offense of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation.

What does it mean for my DeKalb County criminal case if I am now facing Aggravated Assault by Strangulation?

Having the case upgraded to Aggravated Assault-Strangulation can lead to much harsher sentence if you are found guilty.  The crime itself carries 1-20 years in prison, which can be stacked with the other crimes originally charged and can result in a lengthy prison sentence. If you are charged with Aggravated Assault by Strangulation in DeKalb County, you will be prosecuted by the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office in DeKalb County Superior Court and the stakes are certainly higher. Given the harsher penalties associated with violent felonies, it is imperative to seek a Georgia criminal defense attorney early on who can evaluate the case and immediately begin building the defense. Being proactive by speaking to a lawyer immediately after an arrest is the best way to ensure a strong defense when your case goes to court. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION about your Aggravated Assault by Strangulation in DeKalb at 404-581-0999

Statements to the Police While in Custody

According to Miranda v. Arizona, a suspect must be given warning of their rights at the outset of the interrogation process. If a suspect states that he does not wish to speak with police, the police have a duty to halt the interrogation process.

A new ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court (State v. Burton) further affirms that the State holds the burden of proving that any statements made by a person suspected of a crime are made knowingly and voluntarily in light of a person’s right not to speak. If police ask a suspect if they want to speak and the suspect responds in an unambiguous way that they don’t, any statement that a suspect gives cannot be used against them in court. In fact, the interrogation should end immediately. Even if a suspect responds in a way that could be interpreted to be an agreement to speak, the totality of the circumstances should be examined to determine if the suspect actually knowingly and voluntarily agrees to speak with police

In the case of juvenile suspects, courts look at nine factors to determine whether a suspect knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights not to speak with police: (1) the age of the accused; (2) the education of the accused; (3) the knowledge of the accused as to both the substance of the charge . . . and the nature of his rights to consult with an attorney and remain silent; (4) whether the accused is held incommunicado or allowed to consult with relatives, friends or an attorney; (5) whether the accused was interrogated before or after formal charges had been filed; (6) the methods used in interrogation; (7) the length of interrogations; (8) whether the accused refused to voluntarily give statements on prior occasions; and (9) whether the accused has repudiated an extra judicial statement at a later date.

If you believe that you have been questioned by police after you have invoked your right not to speak, it is important that those statements are not used against you. It doesn’t matter how serious the charges, you have a right to have those statements suppressed. Contact our office today at 404-581-0999 so that we may help protect your constitutional rights.

 

Sodomy

Sodomy is a serious crime in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2 established two separate criminal offenses. O.C.G.A.  §16-6-2(a)(1) defines sodomy as the performance of or submission to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2(a)(2) defines aggravated sodomy  as the commission of sodomy with force and against the will of the other person involved or with a person who is less than ten years of age.

The offense of aggravated sodomy protects individuals from violent acts where the offense of sodomy punishes consensual sexual behavior.

For sodomy, all that is required is contact between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another person. Proof of penetration is not required in a sodomy case unless is specifically listed in the indictment. Whether there was prohibited contact between the defendant and alleged victim is solely a question for a jury.

No corroboration is required in a sodomy case.

Aggravated Sodomy is different than Sodomy. In order to make out a case for Aggravated Sodomy, the State must show that the contact was made both with force and against the will or without the consent of the alleged victim. The standard of proof is the same as required for a rape case. Both the words and actions of the accused can be used to determine if the alleged victim was in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-15 prohibits the solicitation of sodomy. Solicitation of sodomy is defined as soliciting another individual to perform to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one and the mouth or anus of another and such act is to be performed in public in exchange for money or anything of value or by force or by or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent to sexual activity. In order to be convicted of solicitation of sodomy, the State must be present sufficient evidence of all three elements of the crime.

If you are convicted of sodomy, it is a felony punishable by not less than one nor more than twenty years in prison and is subject to the sentencing provisions of § 17-10-6.2 which requires the sexual offender to receive a split sentence including the minimum sentence of imprisonment.

Aggravated Sodomy is also a felony and is punishable by either life imprisonment or by a split sentence of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and probation for life.

Solicitation of sodomy is a misdemeanor. However if the solicitation is of someone under 18 years of age or the solicitation is for money then it is felony punishable of not less than 5 nor more than 20 years in prison.

If the victim is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of sodomy is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then the accused would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would not be subject to the sentencing provision of O.C.G.A. §17-10-6.2.

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.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of Enticing a child for an indecent act. Many allegations of enticing a child are false. Even if you know the allegation of enticing a child against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5 defines Enticing a Child for indecent purposes as follows:

A person commits the offense of enticing a child for indecent purposes when he or she solicits, entices, or takes any child under the age of 16 years to any place whatsoever for the purpose of child molestation or indecent acts.

The State must prove a joint operation of (1) the act of enticing a child and (2) the intention to commit acts of indecency or child molestation.

Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes is different than Child Molestation because of the extra element of asportation. The asportation element is satisfied with the taking involving physical force, enticement or persuasion. The evidence must show some movement of the child. It can be slight movement.

Indecent Acts means illicit sexual conduct. Because the statute refers to both indecent acts and child molestation, it is reasonable to assume that indecent acts are different than acts punished by the child molestation statute.

Neither consent nor lack of knowledge of the child’s age is a defense to prosecution under the Enticing a Child statute.

The statute is intended to protect children from sexual predators. It is unlawful to entice any child under the age of 16.

The punishment for Enticing A Child is a mandatory of 10 years imprisonment up to 30 years and at least 1 year of probation.

Do not wait until the State actually returns an indictment against you for Enticing a Child before seeking an attorney. It is vital that you immediately retain an attorney and get to work in defending yourself of these allegations.

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.

Home Invasion – Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney

Home Invasion – Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney

Home invasion is a serious felony crime in Georgia. Home invasion is either in the first degree, or in the second degree and can be found at O.C.G.A. § 16-7-5.

 

Home Invasion in the First Degree

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the first degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible felony while in possession of a deadly weapon, he or she enters the home of another while such house is occupied by a person with authority to be there. For example, entering someone’s home while it is occupied by another with the intent to commit an armed robbery, an aggravated assault, or a rape would be considered home invasion in the first degree.

What is the punishment for Home Invasion in the First Degree?

It is a felony offense, with the maximum punishment being life in prison with a fine of up to $100,000. The State of Georgia prosecutes Home Invasion cases harshly. The law, however, does allow the Judge to impose a sentence of probation.

Home Invasion in the Second Degree

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the second degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible misdemeanor, and while in possession of a deadly weapon, he or she enters the home of another while such home is occupied by any person with authority to be present therein. For example, home invasion in the second degree could occur if someone were to enter into someone else’s home, while being in possession of a tool capable of serious bodily injury, with the intent to commit a simple assault (a misdemeanor).

 

What is the punishment for Home Invasion in the Second Degree in Georgia?

Home invasion in the second degree is also a felony offense, with imprisonment for 5-20 years and a fine of up to $100,000. Probation, again, is allowed under the law.

 

Defenses to Home Invasion

A skilled criminal defense attorney can raise numerous defenses to Home Invasion cases in Georgia. If the State is unable to prove you were at the location beyond a reasonable doubt, then you will be acquitted. Additionally, it is required that the person to possess a deadly weapon at the time of the unlawful entry. The State will not be able to prove its case if there was no weapon at the time of entry, or even if the weapon was acquired while inside the home.

Can you get a bond if you are arrested for a Home Invasion?

The short answer is: yes, but not necessarily at the First Appearance. If you have been arrested for Home Invasion in Georgia, the first court appearance will be the First Appearance hearing. This takes place within 48 hours if the arrest was made without a warrant, and within 72 hours if the arrest was made with a warrant.

At the First Appearance, the Judge will inform the accused of the charges and their right to remain silent and to a lawyer. It is at this Court appearance where the Judge can set bail in most instances. However, Home Invasion in the First Degree is a Superior Court-only bond. This means that the bond may only be heard before a Judge of the Superior Court. First Appearance, however, is often heard by a Magistrate Judge, without authority to hear or set bond on a Home Invasion in the First Degree case. Thus, no bond can be given in this scenario. This is not the case with Home Invasion in the Second Degree. Any Judge may set bail at the First Appearance if it is Home Invasion in the Second Degree.

 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for Home Invasion, contact the trial lawyers at W. Scott Smith PC for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Prostitution, Pimping and Pandering

Prostitution is when a person performs or offers or consents to perform a sexual act for money or other items of value. O.C.G.A. §16-6-9.

The statute is not about sexual activity per se but is solely concerned with commercial transactions involving sexual activity. The harm is done to society and not to the individual. Therefore, the State is not required to name the person solicited for prostitution.

Both males and females are prohibited from selling sexual acts. Prostitution is only concerned with the seller. The buyer’s activities are not prostitution.

Prostitution is a misdemeanor and is punished up to 1 year imprisonment. In addition, a person may be fined up to $ 2,500 for prostitution if the offense was committed within 1,000 feet of any school building, school grounds, public place of worship, or playground or recreation center which is primarily used of people under the age of 17.

Pimping is when a person performs any of the following acts:

  1. Offers or agrees to procure a prostitute for another;
  2. Offers or agrees to arrange a meeting of persons for the purposes of prostitution
  3. Directs or transports another person to a place when he or she knows or should know that the direction or transportation is for the purpose of prostitution;
  4. Receives money or other thing of value from a prostitute, without lawful consideration, knowing it was earned in whole or in part from prostitution; or
  5. Aids or abets, counsels, or commands another in the commission of prostitution or aids of assists in prostitutions where the proceeds or profits derived therefrom are to be divided on a pro rata basis.

An indictment for pimping does not need to name the prostitute or the person solicited because the focus is on the harm done to society.

Pimping is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, which is punishable by 12 months imprisonment and up to a $ 5,000 fine. However, when the pimping involves the conduct of a person who is at least 16 but less than 18 years of age, the offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment of or a period of not less than 5 years nor more than 20 years.

Pandering is when a person solicits another person to perform an act of prostitution in his or her own behalf of on behalf of a third person or when he or she knowingly assembles persons at a fixed place for the purpose of being solicited by others to perform an act of prostitution.

Pandering is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, which is punishable by 12 months imprisonment and up to a $ 5,000 fine. However, when the pandering involves the conduct of a person who is at least 16 but less than 18 years of age, the offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment of or a period of not less than 5 years nor more than 20 years.

The clerk of court in which a person is convicted of pandering must cause to be published a notice of conviction for that person in the legal organ of the county in which the person resides or, if a nonresident, in the legal organ of the county in which the person was convicted of pandering.

It is imperative that you do not talk to the police if you are accused of prostitution, pimping or pandering. Only speak to a qualified attorney so that you can properly defend yourself.

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.

Georgia Immunity Motions in Felony Domestic Violence Cases in DeKalb County

If a person is charged in the State of Georgia with a Felony Domestic Violence, that person has the right to claim self-defense. Not only can the person claim self-defense at trial, but the person also has the right to file what is called an immunity motion under O.C.G.A. § 16-3-24.2.

This is a legal motion made pre-trial, whereby a person can assert that their self-defense claim is so strong that the Court cannot allow the prosecutor to continue with the case. Once the motion is filed, the Court must hear and rule on the motion prior to trial.

In an immunity motion the burden is on the defense to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that they should win on the self-defense theory. Once the defense has raised the self-defense claim, the State then has the burden of disproving the claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge will hear testimony, consider evidence, and make a ruling. Two outcomes can occur:

  1. If the Court finds that the defense presented sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and persuaded the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will grant the motion and dismiss the case.
  2. If the Court finds that the defense did not present sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and did not persuade the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will deny the motion and the case will proceed to trial.

The advantage to filing this type of motion is that it can protect a person who is charged with felony domestic violence from the risk of uncertainty of going to trial. If the motion is not successful, the person charged, still has every right to fight the charges at trial. These motions can be very beneficial, in the right case, for the person charged with felony domestic violence.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a felony domestic violence charge, 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 do you do if you are arrested for child molestation in Georgia?

If you or a loved one is arrested for child molestation in Georgia, 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.

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Child molestation charges are aggressively prosecuted in Georgia and prosecutors and the police believe children who make the accusations.

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

Here is what you should do if arrested for child molestation:

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries child molestation cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle child molestation cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles child molestation 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 child molestation, 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 child molestation 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 child molestation:

  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.

If you are arrested for child molestation, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999 or send us an email at mike@peachstatelawyer.com. 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.

Giving a False Name

A person who gives a false name, address, or date of birth to a law officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties with the intent of misleading the officer as to his identity or birthdate can be charged with the misdemeanor of Giving False Name. Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 16-10-25) makes it illegal to lie to the police about your identity. However, simply refusing to hand over your ID does not give the police officer probable cause to believe that you have falsely identified yourself, so you cannot be charged with Giving a False Name under those circumstances, but refusing to hand over your license might result in an obstruction charge.

To prove that someone is guilty of Giving a False Name, the State will generally provide proof of the person’s real name, address, or date of birth by showing records such as a birth certificate, driving records, or registration.

If you have been charged with Giving a False Name, you face penalties up to 1 year and jail, a fine of $1000, or both. You need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the charges, evidence, and defenses. Give our office a call for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been charged with giving a false name. 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds.

What type of trial should I have?

A trial is when you present all the facts in your case and it is heard by, either a judge or jury, who then determine whether you are guilty or innocent. You get to decide what type of trial you would like. There are two types of trials: a jury trial or a bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge determines whether you are guilty or innocent. In a jury trial, people from the community, that you have a say in choosing, determine whether you are guilty or innocent. Depending on your case, we can help you decide which trial is best for your case. Typically, jury trials are best but consulting with an attorney can better advise you of which type of trial is best for your specific case.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and are deciding between what type of trial to have, having a lawyer help you through the process can ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.