Cruelty to Children in Coweta County

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, the offense of cruelty to children is broken down into three different degrees, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse. Because of the consequences of such a serious crime, it is vitally important to understand the offense, as well as your individual rights when dealing with such allegations.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70, first-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, under the age of eighteen, willfully deprives the child of necessaries to the extent that the child’s well-being is jeopardized. Additionally, conduct in which such person causes a minor child cruel or excessive physical or mental pain is considered first-degree child cruelty.

Second-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, with criminal negligence, causes a child, under the age of eighteen, cruel or excessive physical or mental pain. Additionally, third-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a minor child acts in one of the following ways:

  • Such person acts as the primary aggressor and intentionally allows a minor child to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or
  • Such person, who is acting as the primary aggressor, knows that the minor child is present or knows that the child can either hear or see the act, commits the act of forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.

Penalties

The penalty for a conviction of first-degree cruelty to children in Coweta County, Georgia is a prison sentence between 5-20 years. For second-degree cruelty to children, the prison term is anywhere between 1-10 years. Alternatively, if a person is convicted of third-degree cruelty to children, he/she may be sentenced to a misdemeanor penalty, depending on his/her past criminal history. If the person has never been convicted of third-degree cruelty to children or has only been convicted once in the past, he/she may be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody, which is the sentence for a misdemeanor. However, if the accused has been convicted in the past more than twice for the same offense then he/she will be sentenced to a felony prison term between 1-3 years and/or a fine of no less than $1,000, but no more than $5,000.

Defenses

Due to the severity of the punishment, as well as the collateral consequences for a charge of cruelty to children, it is vitally important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations and who also understands all the possible defenses to such a charge. Some defenses to cruelty to children include, but are not limited to:

  • Accident, if it did not result from the person’s recklessness or criminal negligence;
  • Parent’s right to discipline, if reasonable; and
  • Actual innocence or false allegations.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of cruelty to children, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge.  Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for cruelty to children in Coweta County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Cruelty to Children in Cherokee County

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, the offense of cruelty to children is broken down into three different degrees, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse. Because of the consequences of such a serious crime, it is vitally important to understand the offense, as well as your individual rights when dealing with such allegations.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70, first-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, under the age of eighteen, willfully deprives the child of necessaries to the extent that the child’s well-being is jeopardized. Additionally, conduct in which such person causes a minor child cruel or excessive physical or mental pain is considered first-degree child cruelty.

Second-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, with criminal negligence, causes a child, under the age of eighteen, cruel or excessive physical or mental pain. Additionally, third-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a minor child acts in one of the following ways:

  • Such person acts as the primary aggressor and intentionally allows a minor child to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or
  • Such person, who is acting as the primary aggressor, knows that the minor child is present or knows that the child can either hear or see the act, commits the act of forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.

Penalties

The penalty for a conviction of first-degree cruelty to children in Cherokee County, Georgia is a prison sentence between 5-20 years. For second-degree cruelty to children, the prison term is anywhere between 1-10 years. Alternatively, if a person is convicted of third-degree cruelty to children, he/she may be sentenced to a misdemeanor penalty, depending on his/her past criminal history. If the person has never been convicted of third-degree cruelty to children or has only been convicted once in the past, he/she may be sentenced to a misdemeanor penalty. However, if such person has been convicted in the past more than twice for the same offense then he/she will be sentenced to a felony prison term between 1-3 years and/or a fine of no less than $1,000, but no more than $5,000.

Defenses

Due to the severity of the punishment, as well as the collateral consequences for a charge of cruelty to children, it is vitally important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations and who also understands all the possible defenses to such a charge. Some defenses to cruelty to children include, but are not limited to:

  • Accident, if it did not result from the person’s recklessness or criminal negligence;
  • Parent’s right to discipline, if reasonable; and
  • Actual innocence or false allegations.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of cruelty to children, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge.  Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for cruelty to children in Cherokee County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Cruelty to Children in Clayton County

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, the offense of cruelty to children is broken down into three different degrees, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse. Because of the consequences of such a serious crime, it is vitally important to understand the offense, as well as your individual rights when dealing with such allegations.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70, first-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, under the age of eighteen, willfully deprives the child of necessaries to the extent that the child’s well-being is jeopardized. Additionally, conduct in which such person causes a minor child cruel or excessive physical or mental pain is considered first-degree child cruelty.

Second-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child, with criminal negligence, causes a child, under the age of eighteen, cruel or excessive physical or mental pain. Additionally, third-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a minor child acts in one of the following ways:

  • Such person acts as the primary aggressor and intentionally allows a minor child to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or
  • Such person, who is acting as the primary aggressor, knows that the minor child is present or knows that the child can either hear or see the act, commits the act of forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.

Penalties

The penalty for a conviction of first-degree cruelty to children in Clayton County, Georgia is a prison sentence between 5-20 years. For second-degree cruelty to children, the prison term is anywhere between 1-10 years. Alternatively, if a person is convicted of third-degree cruelty to children, he/she may be sentenced to a misdemeanor penalty, depending on his/her past criminal history. If the person has never been convicted of third-degree cruelty to children or has only been convicted once in the past, he/she may be sentenced to a misdemeanor penalty. However, if such person has been convicted in the past more than twice for the same offense then he/she will be sentenced to a felony prison term between 1-3 years and/or a fine of no less than $1,000, but no more than $5,000.

Defenses

Due to the severity of the punishment, as well as the collateral consequences for a charge of cruelty to children, it is vitally important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations and who also understands all the possible defenses to such a charge. Some defenses to cruelty to children include, but are not limited to:

  • Accident, if it did not result from the person’s recklessness or criminal negligence;
  • Parent’s right to discipline, if reasonable; and
  • Actual innocence or false allegations.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of cruelty to children, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge.  Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for cruelty to children in Clayton County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

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.

How do I get out of the Fulton County Jail?

You are in handcuffs and headed to the Fulton County Jail. You want to get out as soon as possible. Your loved ones are in a panic to find a lawyer to help get a bond set. What do you do?

First, do not make any statements to the police while you are being transported to the Fulton County Jail.

Second, do not make any statements about the facts of your case to anyone at the Fulton County Jail. This is not the time to plead your innocence. Your sole focus should be on getting out on bond.

If you are arrested on a misdemeanor, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 9am.

If you are arrested on a felony, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 11am.

Your loved ones should plan on going to the Fulton County jail about 30 minutes prior to court starting. Although most of the first appearance hearings will be conducted by zoom.

The Fulton County jail is located at 901 Rice Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.

The Fulton County Judge is required to consider four factors when setting a bond.

  1. Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
  2. Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;
  3. Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial;
  4. Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

Some crimes must go before a Superior Court judge in order to have a bond set. If you are charged with any of these specific crimes in Fulton County then the Magistrate Judge cannot set a bond at your initial court appearance. All that will happen at this appearance, is the judge will read the warrants to you and reset your case.

The crimes that are only bondable by a Superior Court judge are as follows:

  1. Treason
  2. Murder
  3. Rape
  4. Aggravated Sodomy
  5. Armed Robbery
  6. Aircraft hijacking and hijacking a motor vehicle
  7. Aggravated Child Molestation
  8. Aggravated Sexual Battery
  9. Manufacturing, distributing, delivering, dispensing, administering, or selling any controlled substance classified under Code Section 16-13-25 as Schedule 1 or under Code Section 16-13-26 as Schedule II
  10. Violating Code Section 16-13-31 or 16-13-31.1
  11. Kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary if the person, at the time of the alleged kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary, had been previously convicted of, was on probation or parole with respect to, or was on bail for kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, burglary, or one or more of the offenses listed above.
  12. Aggravated Stalking

For any of these crimes that are bondable only by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, you will get a court date that will be in the Fulton County Courthouse. The Fulton County Courthouse is located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. These court dates start at 9:30am. As of now, most of these hearings are held on zoom.

There are several types of bonds available for your case.

  1. Released to Pretrial Services: Fulton County will sometimes release people on their own recognizance which means that you do not have to put up any money. You will be monitored by Fulton County Pretrial Services. You will have to report to Pretrial Services until your case gets resolved in court.
  2. Cash Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to pay a cash bond. This means that you pay the entire bond yourself. The benefit to this bond is that it is refundable to you once you resolve your case.
  3. Property Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to post a property bond. In order to post a property bond, you would need to speak to the Fulton Sheriff’s office. They generally will require a warranty deed, a current tax statement showing the property’s fair market value as well as a statement showing all taxes are current. You generally need double the bond amount in equity.
  4. Bail Bondsman: The final option is to call a bonding company. You will pay between 10% – 15% of the total bond to the bonding company. The bonding company will then post the entire bond and you will be released. This 10% – 15% is non-refundable. The Fulton County jail will provide you with a list of approved bonding companies.

If you or your loved one is arrested and taken to the Fulton County jail, please contact us any time and we can assist you in helping get a bond set.

Our office is located in downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Feel free to call us at 404-581-0999 anytime day or night. Also, please go to our website at www.peachstatelawyer.com

Immunity Motions in Domestic Violence Cases- Fulton County

If a person is charged in the State of Georgia with 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 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 domestic violence.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a 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.

I have a stay away/no contact provision in my bond, but I live with the victim. What do I do?

“Stay Away” and “No Contact” bond conditions are common conditions attached to bond orders when someone is charged with battery. These conditions mean just what they say: that the defendant is to stay away from the alleged victim in the case, and is to have no contact with them under any circumstances. While this is normally an easy condition to abide by, what do you do if the alleged victim is a spouse, child, or someone else who lives in your home?

If you have been arrested and charged with battery or battery-family violence against someone who lives with you and there is a no contact provision to your bond, continuing to reside in the home with that person is a violation of your bond condition, and puts you at serious risk of having your bond revoked. This is true even if the alleged victim in your case expresses a desire to have the charges dropped, they want to continue to live with you, or it was all a misunderstanding. If there is a no contact condition, any contact, even if friendly, could result in a bond revocation. So what should you do?

If you have charges of battery or battery-family violence and you want to continue to live with or see the victim in the case, you must first obtain an order modifying your bond conditions. You must do this before you continue to live with or communicate with the victim. You should contact an attorney to request that they file a motion for bond modification with the Court. Your attorney will then file the motion on your behalf, and the Court may grant the motion or may decide to have a hearing on the motion. If the Court schedules a hearing, your attorney will appear and advocate on your behalf, arguing that you should be permitted to have contact with the alleged victim.

If you are currently in contact with the alleged victim in your case and there is a no contact provision, notify your attorney immediately, and remove yourself from the residence or location where the victim is staying. Do not continue to speak to or reside with the victim until your bond can be modified.

CONTACT US

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained at defending such allegations, we are knowledgeable about all the potential defenses of such a charge, and we have experience at trial advocating for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for battery-family violence in Fulton County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Battery – Family Violence Charges in Haralson County, Georgia

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, a permanent mark on their criminal history , and the possibility of trial. All these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges. This is especially true when charged with Family Violence Battery in Haralson County. This jurisdiction has specifically allocated money and resources in aggressively prosecuting domestic violence charges.  This article aims to explain the nature of the offense, punishments, and how these cases are handled within Haralson County.

 

The Offense

 

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence (named “battery – family violence”) as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

 

Therefore, in order to be charged with Family Violence Battery, the alleged victim must be within a certain relationship of the defendant:

 

  • A spouse
  • Persons who are parents of the same child
  • Children
  • Step-Children
  • Foster Children
  • Other persons living in the same household (roommates)

 

Punishment

 

A first conviction for Family Violence Battery is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine.  A second or subsequent conviction with the same family member (as classified above) or another family member results in a felony conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1

 

While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several collateral consequences unknown to most people.  For example, because Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence,” a Georgia citizen who is convicted of Family Violence Battery is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Federal Law.

 

Furthermore, while the maximum penalty includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many judges throughout the State will also require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation (in lieu of jail time), but with the conditions of completing a domestic violence program.  These programs go by several different names (usually Domestic Violence Intervention Program – DVIP), but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are not included in the fine ordered by the judge.  In addition, judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that your attorney can negotiate all of these things.

 

How it Works in Haralson

 

The first step after arrest is getting a bond. If charged with misdemeanor Family Violence Battery, the law provides you shall be given a bond (in all misdemeanor cases).  But, in addition to having to pay bail money to bond out, the judge will also typically impose a No Contact provision as a condition of your pre-trial release. For example, in a case where a husband is accused of battering his wife, and the couple have minor children who live with them, a judge will usually order the defendant to have No Contact with the wife (alleged victim), the children, and be prevented from returning to the shared home. This No Contact provision places a great burden and strain on the accused as a violation of this bond condition (any form of contact, direct or indirect) can land the accused person in custody until the case is resolved. Therefore, the accused has to find alternative living arrangements and be estranged from their family.

 

As a result, our office routinely files a Motion to Modify Bond Conditions to change the No Contact provision to No Violent or Harassing Contact. This will allow the accused to return home and have contact with the alleged victim and anyone else protected under the bond order; allowing the accused to return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle.

 

After arrest, a case file is created with the Haralson County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within Haralson County. At first, the case will be “unaccused.” This simply means that no accusation has yet been filed on the case. An accusation is the official charging document for misdemeanors in Georgia. It is intended to provide notice to the accused of the charges, the dates of the offense, and information sufficient to place the defendant on notice of how to defend the case. An experienced attorney should periodically check to see whether the case has been accused prior to arraignment.

 

It is possible to resolve a Family Violence Battery charge prior to the filing of an accusation. Attorneys should contact the Solicitor General’s Office to see if they are eligible to be admitted into the Haralson County Domestic Violence Pre-Trial Intervention Program. If the accused successfully completes the DVPTI program, their charges will be dismissed with their records restricted.

 

Once a prosecutor reviews the file and believes there is at least probable cause to proceed upon, the accusation is filed and the case is formally “accused.” If accused and not eligible for DVPTI, the accused must begin preparing their case for a possible trial, subject to reaching a plea negotiation with the prosecutor. This includes investigating the case and gathering evidence. In our experience, Haralson County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss Family Violence Battery charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to Family Violence Battery or proceed to trial.

 

Haralson County State Court prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within the accusation.  Unfortunately, many people go to court on their first court date, without exploring the consequences of a Family Violence Battery conviction, and enter a plea.  Whether the person committed the acts alleged or they simply just want to put this chapter of their life behind them, even though they’re innocent, it’s vital to consult with an attorney.  At the very least, an attorney can discuss the implications of being convicted of Family Violence Battery.

 

Contact Us

 

Being charged with Family Violence Battery can be a stressful event in anyone’s life.  At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to explore the legal issues with every Family Violence Battery case.  We are aware of all the possible options available to avoid jail time and to protect your criminal history and ultimately your privacy.   If you or a loved one has been charged with Family Violence Battery, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

Family Violence Battery in Cobb County, Georgia

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, a permanent mark on their criminal history , and the possibility of trial.   All of these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges. This is especially true when charged with Family Violence Battery in Cobb County. This jurisdiction has specifically allocated money and resources in aggressively prosecuting domestic violence charges.  This article aims to explain the nature of the offense, punishments, and how these cases are handled within Cobb County.

 

The Offense

 

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence (named “battery – family violence”) as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

 

Therefore, in order to be charged with Family Violence Battery, the alleged victim must be within a certain relationship of the defendant:

 

  • A spouse
  • Persons who are parents of the same child
  • Children
  • Step-Children
  • Foster Children
  • Other persons living in the same household (roommates)

 

Punishment

 

A first conviction for Family Violence Battery is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine.  A second or subsequent conviction with the same family member (as classified above) or another family member results in a felony conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1

 

While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several collateral consequences unknown to most people.  For example, because Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence,” a Georgia citizen who is convicted of Family Violence Battery is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Federal Law.

 

Furthermore, while the maximum penalty includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many judges throughout the State will also require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation (in lieu of jail time), but with the conditions of completing a domestic violence program.  These programs go by several different names (usually Domestic Violence Intervention Program – DVIP), but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are not included in the fine ordered by the judge.  In addition, judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that your attorney can negotiate all of these things.

 

How it Works in Cobb

 

The first step after arrest is getting a bond. If charged with misdemeanor Family Violence Battery, the law provides you shall be given a bond (in all misdemeanor cases).  But, in addition to having to pay bail money to bond out, the judge will also typically impose a No Contact provision as a condition of your pre-trial release. For example, in a case where a husband is accused of battering his wife, and the couple have minor children who live with them, a judge will usually order the defendant to have No Contact with the wife (alleged victim), the children, and be prevented from returning to the shared home. This No Contact provision places a great burden and strain on the accused as a violation of this bond condition (any form of contact, direct or indirect) can land the accused person in custody until the case is resolved. Therefore, the accused has to find alternative living arrangements and be estranged from their family.

 

As a result, our office routinely files a Motion to Modify Bond Conditions to change the No Contact provision to No Violent or Harassing Contact. This will allow the accused to return home and have contact with the alleged victim and anyone else protected under the bond order; allowing the accused to return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle.

 

After arrest, a case file is created with the Cobb County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within Cobb County. At first, the case will be “unaccused.” This simply means that no accusation has yet been filed on the case. An accusation is the official charging document for misdemeanors in Georgia. It is intended to provide notice to the accused of the charges, the dates of the offense, and information sufficient to place the defendant on notice of how to defend the case. An experienced attorney should periodically check to see whether the case has been accused prior to arraignment.

 

It is possible to resolve a Family Violence Battery charge prior to the filing of an accusation. Attorneys should contact the Solicitor General’s Office to see if they are eligible to be admitted into the Cobb County Domestic Violence Pre-Trial Intervention Program. If the accused successfully completes the DVPTI program, their charges will be dismissed with their records restricted.

 

Once a prosecutor reviews the file and believes there is at least probable cause to proceed upon, the accusation is filed and the case is formally “accused.” If accused and not eligible for DVPTI, the accused must begin preparing their case for a possible trial, subject to reaching a plea negotiation with the prosecutor. This includes investigating the case and gathering evidence. In our experience, Cobb County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss Family Violence Battery charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to Family Violence Battery or proceed to trial.

 

Cobb County State Court prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within the accusation.  Unfortunately, many people go to court on their first court date, without exploring the consequences of a Family Violence Battery conviction, and enter a plea.  Whether the person committed the acts alleged or they simply just want to put this chapter of their life behind them, even though they’re innocent, it’s vital to consult with an attorney.  At the very least, an attorney can discuss the implications of being convicted of Family Violence Battery.

 

Contact Us

 

Being charged with Family Violence Battery can be a stressful event in anyone’s life.  At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to explore the legal issues with every Family Violence Battery case.  We are aware of all the possible options available to avoid jail time and to protect your criminal history and ultimately your privacy.   If you or a loved one has been charged with Family Violence Battery, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

 

Forsyth County Family Violence Battery – Cumming Criminal Defense Lawyer

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   The State of Georgia, as a whole, has taken a stand against domestic violence.  There are domestic violence task forces across the State, and specialized prosecuting units. Every day we see the impact that family violence arrests have on Georgia’s criminal justice system. Police are told across the State to make arrests for Family Violence Battery if there is any evidence it occurred. Evidence, unfortunately, can be one-sided and be the result of a false allegation.

For those who have been arrested for family violence, there may be feelings of anxiety and stress as it relates to the potential impact the case will have. Jail time, a criminal history, and forfeiture of firearms for life are all very real concerns when facing Family Violence Battery charges in Georgia. An arrest is not a conviction, and there are options in the criminal process for your Family Violence case.

In order to be prosecuted for Family Violence Battery, the State must prove that the alleged victim falls within the statutory definition for “Household Members or Family.”

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1, this includes past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.

 

The State must also prove that there was either “substantial physical harm” OR “visible bodily harm” in a Family Violence Battery case in order to get convicted of the crime.

 

What happens after a Family Violence Arrest in Forsyth County?

First, the person arrested for Family Violence Battery will have their booking photo and finger prints taken and then will be ordered into the Forsyth County Detention Center. The booking process, through fingerprints, creates the official criminal history that is then made public. After the booking process, the person arrested for Family Violence will see a Judge in their First Appearance hearing. This is where Bond will be addressed.

In order to get out on bond in a Family Violence case, the Judge must find several factors to be true. The Judge must find that the person accused of Family Violence Battery:

(1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;

(2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;

(3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and

(4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

These are referred to in Georgia as the ‘Ayala Factors’ based on the criminal case that first laid out what must be proven in order to get out on bond in a criminal case. Ayala v. State, 62 Ga. 704 (1993).  Retaining an attorney immediately at arrest means having representation at what many people view as the most important step: getting out of jail as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will do an investigation into the case  and allegations and put forth the best possible argument to have their client released on pretrial bond in their Family Violence case.

 

In a Family Violence case, the Judge may order certain requirements in order to be allowed out on bond. For example, the Judge can order domestic violence classes, or for the accused to not have any weapons while out on bond. We see in most domestic violence cases, if the person is not represented at First Appearance, that the Judge will issue a No Contact provision and Stay Away Order. This means that once the person is released, they are not allowed in many cases return to their home, or speak to the parent of their child or their husband or wife. This is something that in most cases can be avoided through proper investigation and preparation for a bond hearing.

 

What is the potential punishment for Family Violence Case in Forsyth County?

The punishment for a family violence case is codified at O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1 and the maximum penalty is the same across the State of Georgia. On a first conviction for Family Violence Battery, there is a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine. Keep in mind, that the maximum penalty can be greatly increased based on what the State charges via the Accusation. For example, if there is one count of Family Violence Battery, one count of Simple Assault, and one count of Disorderly Conduct, and the charges all based on different conduct, the maximum penalty in that case would be three years to serve. A second or subsequent conviction with the same family member (as classified above) or another family member results in a felony conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several collateral consequences that do always appear at first glance.  For instance, under Federal law, any person convicted of a crime of domestic violence can no longer lawfully possess a firearm.   Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence.”  Thus, a Georgia citizen who has a conviction of Family Violence Battery can no longer possess a firearm without the possibility of facing criminal charges in Federal court. This is a permanent forfeiture of your ability to carry a weapon.

In addition, while the maximum includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many Judges throughout the State will require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation in lieu of jail time, with the conditions of completing a domestic violence program.  These programs go by several different names, but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are no included in the fine levied by the Judge.  In addition, Judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that all of these things can be negotiated by your attorney.

Keep in mind: an arrest is NOT a conviction. Just because you have been arrested for Family Violence in Gwinnett County or any county in the State, does NOT mean you will be ultimately convicted, and have to face the criminal history implications and criminal punishment. As in all criminal cases, there are numerous defenses and options to resolve cases short of a guilty plea!

Being charged with Family Violence Battery can be a stressful event in anyone’s life.  At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to explore the legal issues with every Family Violence Battery case.  We are aware of all the possible options available to avoid jail time and to protect your criminal history and ultimately your privacy.  If you or a loved one has been charged with Family Violence Battery, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.