Georgia Criminal Law – Incest

In major sex offenses, the person charged faces an uphill battle. These types of offenses are inflammatory in our society and many people rush to judgment, deeming the person guilty from the onset. The truth is there are people who are wrongly accused of committing these types of offenses. This article serves to explore the nature of the laws against incest, what the penalties are, and applicable defenses.

The Offense

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22, a person commits the offense of incest when such person engages in sexual intercourse or sodomy, with a person he or she knows he or she is related to by blood or by marriage as follows:

  • Mother and child or stepchild;
  • Father and child or stepchild;
  • Siblings of the whole blood or half blood;
  • Grandparent and grandchild of the whole blood or half blood;
  • Aunt and niece or nephew of the whole blood or half blood; or
  • Uncle and niece or nephew of the whole blood or half blood

The Penalty

Incest is a felony and a conviction will result in between ten and thirty year’s imprisonment. If the victim was under the age of fourteen, the prison term is between twenty-five and fifty years. Furthermore, a person convicted of incest will be required to register as a sex offender.

Defenses

Before we discuss applicable defenses, it is important to know what is not a valid defense to a charge of incest. It is not a defense that the intercourse was consented to by the victim. Consent is invalid where the victim is under the age of fourteen because that child is mentally incapable of giving consent.

One applicable defense to a charge of incest is that no sexual intercourse or sodomy occurred. But how does someone prove something didn’t happen? Evidence tending to establish issues with the victim’s credibility, bias, motives, or perception are beneficial to the defense. Also, one should consider obtaining an expert witness to analyze the case. An expert can assist in performing or rebutting forensic examinations of the alleged victim.

Another possible defense is that the parties involved simply do not meet the relationship required by law. The law is very strict as to which relationships apply and if the relationship falls outside of those stated under the law, a charge of incest will not stand.

Finally, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knows he or she is related to the other person. The law requires proof the defendant knew or should have known they are engaging in intercourse with someone who meets the relationship requirements. However, one cannot simply ignore such a relationship when, under the circumstances, the defendant should reasonably know of such as relationship.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 for a free case evaluation. You’ll a local Atlanta attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf.

Can you get in trouble for bringing cigarettes or a cellphone to an inmate in Georgia?

By: Mary Agramonte

            Georgia law has made it a felony for someone to give an inmate certain illicit items. These include guns, weapons, alcohol, drugs, tobacco and cellphones. If any of these items are given to an inmate without the warden’s permission, both the inmate and the person who gave it to the inmate, can be charged with a felony offense. This law is codified at O.C.G.A. § 42-5-18.

It is against the law for Inmates to possess certain items while in jail.

            If the inmate possesses a gun, weapon, alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, he or she can be convicted and imprisoned for 1 to 5 years (which can run consecutive to whatever sentence they are currently serving). Interestingly, if the person in jail is being held for a misdemeanor arrest or conviction, and is caught with a cell phone in violation of Georgia law, Georgia law can be more lenient as this offense is actually a misdemeanor. On the other hand, if the person is being held for a felony and is caught with a cell phone, it will be charged as a felony.

The person on the outside bringing the items can be punished more severely in Georgia.

            Another caveat is that Georgia law is that is treats more harshly the person bringing the items, than it does the inmate possessing them. If you are the one who brings the prohibited items in, or even attempts to do so, it is a mandatory minimum of two years to serve in prison (and all the way up to 10 years). The mandatory two years cannot be served on probation meaning it is a mandatory prison sentence. This includes weapons, drugs, and alcohol will all result in a mandatory two years in prison if the person is convicted of that crime. If it is only cigarettes or tobacco, then the sentence is slightly lighter in Georgia in that is a mandatory one to five years in that situation if the person is convicted at trial or plea.

What about drones?

            As technology develops more in the outside world, people are becoming creative in ways to bring prohibited items into jails and prisons. In this regard, the Georgia legislature has enacted laws to prevent the use of drones and other unmanned aircraft systems in either taking photos of jails and prisons, or using the unmanned aircraft to bring the banned items into the prison walls.  In this situation, it is a 1 to 5 year sentence to use the drone to take photos, and a 1 to 10 year offense to actually attempt to bring items into jail or prison. Both of these are considered felony offenses.

            Whether you or a loved one has been caught either possession the items while in prison, or bringing the items into the prison, there is hope. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can put together a defense to mitigate and protect your future. Call W. Scott Smith today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

What do you do if you are arrested for possession with intent or trafficking in drugs in Georgia?

If you or a loved one is arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking 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.

The District Attorney has a dedicated division to prosecute cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking. They will vigorously prosecute you if you are charged with a crime involving selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana or other illegal drugs.   

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Drug charges are aggressively prosecuted all over the State of Georgia.

Make sure your attorney has had felony jury trials and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle drug cases. Many drug cases are won at a motions hearing. It is imperative that you get body cams, dash cams, search warrants and take witness statements of anyone involved in the search and seizure of the drugs.  

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

Here is what you should do if arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle these cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles drug 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 possession with intent to distribute or trafficking, 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.
    1. 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.
    1. Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this 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 possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in Georgia.

  1. Never talk to law enforcement or the prosecutor without an attorney.

If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine or any other illegal drug, 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.

Rebel Thinking & Defense

I am going to digress from a legal analysis this month. When not practicing law, I enjoy, among other activities, walking and gardening. Both lend themselves to listening to podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts is “Hidden Brain” on NPR. The host, Shankar Vedantam, “uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.” You can imagine that this would be insightful to a trial attorney!

A recent episode entitled, “Rebel with a Cause” discusses the importance of being willing to break out of the norm. The old adage, “Think outside the box” has truth. The truth is that it is important to reevaluate our suppositions from time to time. Nowhere is this truer than in defending persons accused by the mighty government.

What does this have to do with me?

Recently, I was approached by a client who was represented by one of the preeminent Atlanta attorneys. The attorney had negotiated what, under nearly all circumstances, would have been a terrific plea agreement to avoid significant time in federal prison. However, the plea of guilty would result in time in federal prison, the client’s green card not being renewed, and, ultimately, deportation.

My client hired me to replace this other high-profile attorney. I looked at the case with a fresh set of eyes and found the problem. I filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. Before a United States Judge ruled on my motion, the government dismissed the charges!

Take a Fresh Look

Back to the “Rebel” podcast. There is no need to be the proverbial “bull in the china cabinet.” I have encountered those attorneys. They usually don’t last long. It is also inappropriate to be the defense attorney who is the “waterboy” for the government. Do I even have to comment on what we think of that “attorney?”

It is critical to look at every case as if it’s the first case. Bring your experience to the case. It’s invaluable to bring experience to a case. But, it’s also important to look at it and think about it as if it is the first case you have ever reviewed.

The other experienced attorney just followed the routine. He saw evidence of guilt in the form of a wiretap and phone calls. He then negotiated what would otherwise be an excellent plea disposition. However, he did not see the glaring defect in the case that would require dismissal.

In “Hidden Brain” terminology: Experience + Fresh (Rebel) Thinking = Best Chance of Success!

by John Lovell

Georgia Court Dates

Months ago, you had one of your worst days ever: you were arrested. The time it took to bond out seemed like an eternity. But you’re finally out of jail, and you swear you’ll never be back. Weeks pass, and it all seems like a bad dream. Until one day you check your mail and find a letter from a superior, state or municipal court. The letter is about your arrest. It says you have to be in court on specific days for arraignment, motions, and calendar call. The letter also says if you don’t appear as instructed, you may be issued a bench warrant. But what do these terms mean?

Arraignments

Then and Now

Let’s start with arraignment. Arraignment is a word from British common law adapted into the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Literacy was at an all-time low during the olden days of England. Arraignment was created by their judicial system to tell illiterate defendants their pending charges. Prosecutors would do this by reading defendants’ charges to them in open court, since they couldn’t read the law themselves. Defendants would then be given the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Similarly, modern arraignment is the court date at which defendants enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Should you choose Peachstate Lawyer as your legal representation, we will file the appropriate paperwork to ensure you do not have to be in court for arraignment. That paperwork is called a “waiver” of formal arraignment. The waiver we file enables you to enter a plea of not guilty without having to go in front of a judge. The waiver also preserves your attorney’s right to file motions in your case and receive discovery (i.e. evidence) from the state about your case.

Motions

That brings us to the next most important court date in your case: motions. Depending on the county, you may or may not have to be in court for motions. But rest assured that Peachstate Lawyer will file appropriate motions in your case. Motions are important pre-trial steps to contest the state’s evidence against you. Sometimes motions can get a case thrown out all-together. So, it is very important that you have legal defense, like us, who know which motions to file, and ultimately argue, on your behalf.

Calendar Call

Finally, the last court date referenced in the judicial notice you received is for calendar call. My rule of thumb is to instruct all of my clients to be present at calendar call. Most counties in Georgia issue bench warrants for those who do not appear as instructed. And while that is something our firm can take care of, it is in your best interest to avoid having a bench warrant issued for you. (After all, you swore you’d never go back to jail after bonding out months ago.)

Calendar Call is the date at which your attorney tells the Judge how you plan to resolve your case. Even though you initially entered a plea of not guilty, you may decide to resolve you case by guilty plea if don’t want to have a jury trial & your attorney secured a plea offer that you want to accept. Alternatively, your attorney may also announce ready for trial and your case will be added to the Judge’s next trial calendar.

If you’ve received judicial notice in the mail and do not know what to do next, contact our office today for a free consultation.

by Sarah Armstrong

Privacy Rights- Carpenter vs. United States

by John Lovell

Last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the privacy rights of individuals. The Government, without a warrant or a showing of probable cause, issued an order to a cell phone company to provide Timothy Carpenter’s cell site data. The Government sought to gather the extensive records, including the location of Carpenter’s phones. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, found that Mr. Carpenter had a privacy right in his phone records. For the Government to seize these records, the Government needed to present to a magistrate a warrant based on sworn testimony establishing probable cause. The Court noted that a significant factor causing the War for Independence was Britain’s use of warrantless searches … Americans have never been fond of warrantless searches!

Do not be quick to conclude that this ruling makes it necessary for the police to obtain a warrant for all types of stored records. Your privacy could still be affected. Previously, the Court has held that a warrant is not necessary to obtain records of the numbers called by a cell phone-not the content of the calls but just the fact that the “target” phone called particular numbers at particular times. The Court has also held that other stored records such as bank records may be obtained without a warrant. A couple of years ago, the Court ruled that a warrant is required to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle. The critical distinction that the Court has made is in information that reveals the location of the subject. We have a greater expectation of privacy in where we are than is more typical records such as numbers called and even bank records. Protect your privacy rights today and call Peachstate Lawyer for your FREE consultation!

Statutory Rape Crimes in Georgia

by Mike Jacobs

Statutory Rape is a serious crime in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 defines Statutory Rape as engaging in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years old who is not your  spouse.

Statutory Rape requires corroboration and cannot stand solely on the unsupported testimony of the victim.

In Georgia, it is not a defense to Statutory Rape that the accused believed the victim was of the age of consent.

Many people have the idea that if they have consensual sex, then they did not break the law. That is not true.  Individuals who commit statutory rape in Georgia can face serious felony charges. In addition to a prison sentence, a person faces being put on the Sex Offender Registry and has limits on housing and job opportunities and loses their right to vote and own a firearm.

To be convicted of Statutory Rape, it is not necessary to fully penetrate the vagina or to rupture the hymen. Only slight penetration of the vulva or labia is sufficient. Proof of force is unnecessary for statutory rape.

The punishment for Statutory Rape is very serious. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 mandates that the sentence be from 1 to 20 years in prison. If the defendant is 21 years or older, then the mandatory sentence is 10 years up to 20 years in prison with at least one year on probation. If the victim is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old and the person convicted is 18 years old and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then it is a misdemeanor and a maximum of 12 months in custody.

If the defendant is over 21 and convicted of statutory rape, he or she cannot plead under the First Offender Act.

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

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.

Sodomy Crimes in Georgia

by Mike Jacobs

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.

Sexual Assault and Rape Crimes in Georgia

by Mike Jacobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Crimes in Georgia

by Mike Jacobs

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.