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.

What is calendar call or a pretrial court date for a criminal case in Fulton County?

If you are charged with committing a crime, there are many different hearings and/or court dates that you may have to attend. One of those is, what some jurisdictions refer to as, calendar call or pretrial hearing. What is calendar call or pretrial hearing? A calendar call and/or pretrial hearing is a court date where the judge is wanting to know the status of where the case is, i.e., ready for trial or needing additional time.

What is the purpose of calendar call or pretrial? The purpose is to inform the court where the attorneys are in the case so that the court can set the case for trial. Some examples that an attorney would announce at calendar call or pretrial is that negotiations still pending, still reviewing discovery, still investigating, still missing discovery from the prosecutors, still waiting on medical documents or reports, still waiting on testing etc. Generally, nothing of significance happens at this court date unless you plan to enter a plea and close your case out. Some counties have calendar call or pretrial a week or two after arraignment. Typically, the scheduling for calendar call or pretrial is dependent on the county you have a case in and the judge you are in front of. Some counties and judges set calendar call or pretrial a month or two out.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and has a pending case in Fulton County, 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.

Entering an Automobile: Theft and More

Entering an Automobile in Georgia

Entering an automobile is a theft crime under Georgia law. It is defined as the entering of any automobile or other motor vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony.

Usually, people under indictment for this offense are accused of breaking into cars to steal property. The State does not have to prove they actually stole anything, just that they had the intent to steal property when entering into the car.

But it was my own car?

Interestingly enough, a person can be charged with entering into their own vehicle to commit a theft or felony. The State does not have to establish lack of authority to enter a car because the statute makes no distinction between authorized and unauthorized entry.

This means you, as a defendant, could be accused of Entering an Automobile if the State alleges you entered your own car with the intent to, say, steal the laptop your friend left in your car. Once again, the State would not have to prove you actually stole the laptop, only that you intended to commit steal it.

Remember the law defines Entering an Automobile as entering a car with the intent to commit a theft or felony. This would contemplate a scenario in which someone entering a car (either their own or someone else’s) to commit rape, murder, aggravated assault, etc.

What’s My Defense?

The law defines Entering by Automobile as a felony or a misdemeanor at the judge’s discretion. This is important because it means your attorney, in the context of a negotiated plea, can (and should) ask the judge for misdemeanor sentencing, thus allowing you to avoid felony conviction (or wasting your first offender on what could’ve been a misdemeanor).

If you or someone you know has been charged with entering an automobile contact our office today for a free consultation.

by Sarah Armstrong

First Offender Sentencing in Georgia

First offender treatment is available in Georgia for anyone who has not been previously convicted of a felony and is not charged with a serious violent felony. Serious violent felonies are murder, felony murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. Anyone charged with one of those offenses is automatically ineligible for first offender unless the charge is reduced to a lesser offense.

If a defendant receives first offender treatment, it can be both a blessing and a curse. If there are no issues during the period of probation, then no official conviction will ever be reported and the record itself will seal from public view. However, if the defendant commits a new offense while on probation or has any issues at all, then the judge has discretion to revoke the first offender status and re-sentence the defendant up the maximum sentence allowed by law.

While serving the sentence which will undoubtedly involve a period of probation, the defendant is not technically convicted of a crime but still cannot possess a firearm. After successful completion, all gun rights are restored.

Finally, first offender status can be granted retroactively if the defendant was eligible for first offender treatment at the time of the original plea but was not informed of his or her eligibility. Still, there is discretion, and the judge must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the ends of justice and the welfare of society are served by granting retroactive first offender status.

If you are charged with a crime in Georgia, then you should always consult with an attorney as to whether you are a candidate for first offender treatment. If you have already pled guilty, then you should still reach out to discuss whether you can receive retroactive first offender treatment. Give us a call today at 404-581-0999.

Atlanta Entering Auto Attorney

by Mary Agramonte

Being arrested for any crime can be a stressful experience. Being arrested for Entering  Auto or Theft by Taking can be even more stressful based on the harsh consequences and the idea of facing a felony charge. If you or your loved one has been arrested for Entering Auto in the Atlanta area, it is important to know your rights and to have a team of lawyers behind you from the very beginning fighting for your freedom.

In Georgia, Entering Auto is a felony offense which carries one to five years in prison. If the person arrested for Entering Auto already has a felony on their record, then they could be facing a lengthier sentence. You can be charged with Entering Auto even if you never stole anything from within the vehicle. The crime is complete soon as you enter the car with the intent to commit a theft or felony. Unfortunately, it is not a defense that the owner of the car gave you permission to go in the car initially.

However, there is good news. If you have been arrested for Entering Auto, there are defenses based on lack of intent to commit the theft, and inability for the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There are ways to avoid the felony conviction as well as the prison time. The judge has the discretion to even sentence you as a misdemeanor for this charge, so you need qualified attorneys ready to present your case in the most favorable way possible.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Entering Auto, it is imperative to get a team of criminal defense attorneys on your side. Having Atlanta Entering Auto attorneys can help you beat the case completely, or minimize the jail and fines. There are defenses to Entering Auto, so do not plead guilty without first talking to an Atlanta Entering Auto attorney. Call us today for a free consultation and know your rights as it relates to an Entering Auto case. 404-581-0999