Trafficking Marijuana through the Atlanta Airport

When a person traveling to Atlanta is charged with trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport the first concern is going to be how to get a bond to get the person charged with trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport out of jail as soon as possible.  Another question is, how much will my bond be for trafficking marijuana?  At our law firm we have handled a number of bond hearings and received consent bonds in Clayton County on trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport.  We believe we have a recipe for success that you can follow in order to get a bond on a trafficking marijuana case.  A bond hearing is where a judge will decide if the person trafficking in marijuana at the Atlanta airport is a good candidate for bond.  The factors a judge will consider on trafficking cases generally include, criminal record or lack of a criminal record, flight risk or whether the person will appear in court when directed, and/or likelihood of committing a new felony offense while out on bond.  Since people who are charged with trafficking in marijuana are generally transient or they generally have out of Georgia ties, the court will be concerned they will not appear in court when the case comes up for additional court dates.  You must be in a position to allay the court’s fears the person charged with trafficking marijuana will in fact appear in court when directed to do so.  A consent bond is where the State’s prosecutor agrees to a bond amount and the defense accepts because the person arrested for trafficking marijuana at the Atlanta airport feels they can afford the bond amount.

First question for consideration is how much did the Marijuana in the person traveling with marijuana in their suitcase at the Atlanta airport weigh.  If it is less that twenty pounds your chances of getting a lower bond in Clayton County are greater.  Second, did the person traveling have more that $1000 cash on them.  If they did, they are likely a mule.  A mule is someone who is generally destitute or poor and they are so desperate for money that they agree to transport a suitcase or luggage without knowing its contents.  If the person is poor and you can show the prosecutor this evidence and they had a large sum of money (which is consistent with the mule’s fee) the prosecutor is more likely to grant a bond.  Third, do the flight records show a first-time travel for that person on the same flight origination?  If so, this is likely the first time the person traveling with the large amounts of marijuana is flying with marijuana.  If you can show no pattern of travel the State is more likely to consent to a low bond.  The State’s prosecutor and Court will want to know the criminal history of client.  Things of major importance will be does the person have any felonies on their record?  Has the person ever failed to appear in court – even for traffic violations?  Does the person have any violations of probation or parole?  Furthermore, it is important to have a local address in which the person charged with trafficking marijuana will live at while the case is pending.

If you are an attorney trying to acquire a consent bond for trafficking marijuana in Clayton County at the Atlanta Jackson-Hartsfield Airport, here is what you need to do.  Go through the criminal history to have a good handle on what the criminal history provides.  If any discrepancies come up on the persons charged GCIC or NCIC be in a position to pull the official court record to confirm the inaccuracies in the official record.  In our experience this happens way too often.  Second, pull a copy of the incident report.  You will need to make a copy of the incident report and provide a copy to the State’s prosecutor in order to get a quick bond offer.  If client has a passport, obtain the passport and be willing to turn the passport in to law enforcement to hold pending the case’s outcome.  If client is poor, have client provide you access to his or her bank account to show how little amount she has in the account.  If client lives in an apartment or humble residence, have someone take photos of the residence to show the State’s prosecutor client’s simple living arrangements.  If client does not have a local address to live at see if client’s family can acquire a local address.  Lastly, do not have client snitch or become a state witness.  In my experience it serves no purpose as it does not assist in getting a bond.

Rape Charges in DeKalb County, Georgia

Rape is a serious crime in Dekalb County. 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.

If you are charged with Rape in Dekalb County, you will be brought over before a Magistrate Judge within the first 72 hours of your arrest. This judge will not set a bond on Rape. You will need to have a bond motion filed before a Dekalb County Superior Court judge.

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.

Initial (First) Appearance in Georgia Criminal Cases

An “initial appearance” is an accused’s first face-to-face encounter with a judge after arrest. The purpose of an initial appearance is to inform the accused of the nature of the charges and advise him/her of their basic rights.

The initial appearance may also serve as a probable cause hearing if the person was arrested without a warrant and no arrest warrant is secured prior to the initial appearance. However, getting an arrest warrant within 48 hours after a warrantless arrest satisfies this probable cause requirement.

Police making an arrest without a warrant shall bring the arrested person in front of a judge within 48 hours after the arrest. O.C.G.A. § 17-4-62.

Police making an arrest with a warrant shall bring the arrested person in front of a judge within 72 hours after the arrest. O.C.G.A. § 17-4-26. These time limitations include weekends and holidays.

Failure to meet these time requirements may result in the release of the arrested person through a writ of habeus corpus under O.C.G.A. § 17-4-62. The failure to provide a timely first appearance, however, will not prevent the State from prosecuting the case.

At the initial appearance the judge shall:

  • Inform the accused of the charges
  • Inform the accused of their Miranda rights
  • Determine whether the accused wants a court appointed attorney and how to obtain one
  • Inform the accused of their right to a committal (probable cause) hearing, unless waived by getting bond
  • In the case of a warrantless arrest, make a probable cause determination
  • Inform accused of right to grand jury indictment or accusation
  • Inform accused of when grand jury will next convene
  • Inform accused of right to jury trial
  • Inform accused of right to waive rights and plead guilty
  • Set bail unless offense is only bailable by superior court judge

Importantly, a defendant’s volunteered statements at the initial appearance may be admissible against the accused at trial. The accused person is NOT entitled to an attorney at the initial appearance because the initial appearance is not considered a “critical stage” in the criminal justice process. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

Serious Violent Felonies under Georgia Law

Georgia law provides for the most serious violent offenses known as the “Seven Deadly Sins.” These are the most heinous crimes in our society and, as such, have specialized punishment including mandatory minimum punishment and limited eligibility for parole. This article will list the serious violent felonies as proscribed by law and detail the punishment surrounding them.

Seven Deadly Sins

O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1(a) lists the “Serious Violent Felonies” in Georgia criminal law:

  • Murder, Felony Murder
  • Armed Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Aggravated Child Molestation
  • Aggravated Sodomy
  • Aggravated Sexual Battery

If convicted of any of these offenses, the sentencing court is required to impose no less than the statutory minimum sentences of imprisonment. O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1(b).

Mandatory Minimum Sentences of Imprisonment

10 years imprisonment

  • Armed Robbery
  • Kidnapping (victim 14 years or older)

25 years (followed by probation for life)

  • Kidnapping (victim under 14)
  • Rape
  • Aggravated Child Molestation
  • Aggravated Sodomy
  • Aggravated Sexual Battery

Life

  • Murder, Felony Murder

 

Eligible for Parole?

  • Defendants sentenced to 10 years confinement must serve all 10 years and is not eligible for parole
  • Defendants sentenced to 25 years confinement must serve all 25 years without possibility of parole
  • Defendants sentenced to Life is parole eligible after 30 years
  • Defendants sentenced to death whose sentences is commuted to life is parole eligible after 30 years
  • Defendants sentenced to life without parole will never receive parole

O.C.G.A. § 17-10-6.1(c)(1) – (4).

First Offender Treatment is not available to any of the Serious Violent Felonies.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.

 

 

 

 

Understanding Computer Trespass Crimes in Georgia

By Mary Agramonte

 

In response to a growing number of computer-related crimes in both the government and private sectors, the State of Georgia enacted the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act, O.C.G.A. §16-9-90 et. seq. The Act establishes four criminal offenses, all felonies, for violations of the Act: Computer Theft, Computer Trespass, Computer Invasion of Privacy, and Computer Forgery.

 

Computer Trespass is defined at O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93 as when any person who uses a computer or network with knowledge that such use is without authority and with the intention of (1) deleting or removing any program or data; (2) obstructing or interfering with the use of a computer program or data; or (3) altering, damaging, or causing the malfunction of a computer, computer network, or program.

 

The State of Georgia can still prosecute the felony case even if the removing of data is temporary, or if the damage to the computer is minimal or eventually restored. However, Georgia Courts have required that data must actually be hindered or interfered with. For example, in Kinslow v. State, an employee altered a network to get his supervisor’s e-mail rerouted to his own personal e-mail. The supervisor continued receiving his e-mails normally. The Supreme Court of Georgia in June of 2021 held that this was insufficient evidence of Criminal Trespass as the action never blocked or hindered the flow of data. Instead, the e-mails were going to the correct supervisor e-mail as well as being copying to the suspect’s private e-mail and thus he could not be found guilty of the felony crime of Criminal Trespass.

 

The State of Georgia will continue to vigorously prosecute computer crimes. If someone is found guilty of Computer Trespass, the maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine or 15 years in prison, or both. In some situations, if someone is charged with Computer Trespass, there may be enough facts to also charge them with the other computer crimes like computer theft and computer forgery, which can increase the sentencing if convicted. There is also a civil component to the Act, which allows for monetary damages for those who claim they have been victim to a computer crime in Georgia.

 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a computer crime in Georgia, call the Law Office of W. Scott Smith for a free consultation at 404-581-0999. An aggressive criminal defense team can investigate and raise numerous defenses in Computer Crime and Computer Trespass cases, and can protect you through the criminal justice system.

Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter Charges in Georgia

In our criminal justice system “homicide” is a broad umbrella term which encompasses different types of specific crimes. Homicide is generally defined as the killing of another person without justification or defense. This blog article aims to explore the different types of homicides under Georgia law.

 

Murder

 

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 sets out the ways a person can commit the offense of murder and second-degree murder.

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

 

Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

 

This is also referred to as “felony murder.”

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder in the second degree when, in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

 

Punishment if Convicted

 

A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life. A person convicted of the offense of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 30 years.

 

Manslaughter

 

In Georgia, manslaughter can be either voluntary or involuntary.

 

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-2, a person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter when he causes the death of another human being under circumstances which would otherwise be murder and if he acts solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person; however, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, of which the jury in all cases shall be the judge, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge and be punished as murder.

 

Essentially, the law recognizes that a person can become so inflamed by passion or provoked to a certain degree that it negates the mental state of “malice” found in murder charges. Because there is no malice, a jury is authorized to convict a person on the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.

 

Examples of sufficient provocation or irresistible passion have been held to include adultery (Raines v. State, 247 Ga. 504 (1981)) and battered person syndrome (Paslay v. State, 285 Ga. 616 (2009)). Evidence of anger alone is not sufficient to set aside malice. It is also important to note there can not be a “cooling off” period between the provoking act and the killing.

 

A person who commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.

 

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-3, A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so by the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony.

 

In the situation of an unlawful act, upon conviction thereof, the person shall be convicted of a felony and punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.

 

A person also commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so, by the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

 

Here, during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner, upon conviction thereof, the person shall be punished as a misdemeanor.

 

Contact Us

 

Homicides are investigated aggressively by law enforcement. These crimes are extremely serious. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving the death or another, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia Criminal Law – Drug Schedules for Controlled Substances

Georgia and Federal law provide for the “scheduling” of different controlled substances. Controlled substances are divided into different categories based on potential for abuse and medicinal use, if any. Violating state or federal controlled substances laws can result in misdemeanor or felony punishment depending on the type of substance and quantity involved.

Schedule I: These substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs include Heroin, LSD, Psilocybin (mushrooms), and MDMA (Ecstacy). Although marijuana is considered Schedule I under federal law, Georgia treats marijuana possession differently. In Georgia, simple possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is punishable as a misdemeanor. However, if marijuana is chemically altered to another state (thc oil or wax), it can be charged as a felony.

Schedule II: These substances have a high potential for abuse but have at least some accepted medical use. Schedule II drugs include Cocaine, Amphetamine, Opium, Morphine, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Ketamine, and Fentanyl.

Schedule III: These substances have less potential for abuse than Schedule I and II as they have some accepted medical use but may lead to moderate or low physical dependence if abused. Schedule III drugs include Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, CNS stimulants, anabolic steroids, certain barbiturates, and substances or mixtures containing limited amounts of narcotics.

Schedule IV: These substances have low potential for abuse compared to Schedule III, having some accepted medical use, but may lead to limited physical and psychological dependence if abused. Schedule IV drugs include Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazapam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), and Zolpidem (Ambien).

Schedule V: These substances have low potential for abuse compared to Schedule IV, having some accepted medical use, but can also lead to limited physical and psychological dependence if abused. Schedule V drugs include substances or mixtures containing limited amounts of narcotics and must be lawfully prescribed.

A person accused of unlawful possession or the sale/distribution of any of the above controlled substances is facing serious criminal charges. A skilled and experienced attorney is necessary to navigate the law and successfully defend criminal charges.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Possession of THC Oil under Georgia Law

 

Generally, possession of a personal amount of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-13-2(b). However, possession of other forms of THC, such as oil, resin, or wax, which are extracted from the plant, can be charged as a Schedule I felony in accordance with the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.

THE OFFENSE

V.G.C.S.A. offenses, which stands for “Violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act,” include criminal charges relating to the possession of THC oil. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-13-25 of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, THC oil is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. A Schedule I controlled substance is defined as:

  1. A drug or other substance that has a high potential for abuse;
  2. The drug or other substance does not currently have any accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

According to O.C.G.A § 16-13-30, it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance, this includes non-medicinal THC oil, which is categorized as a Schedule I felony in the State of Georgia.

LOW THC OIL

However, an experienced criminal defense attorney could negotiate for a felony charge to be reduced down to a misdemeanor under O.C.G.A. § 16-12-191. This statute governs the possession of “low THC oil.” Pursuant to this statute, it is unlawful for any person to possess, purchase, or have under his control, 20 fluid ounces or less of low THC oil. If convicted under this statute, the accused will be sentenced to misdemeanor punishment.

In order for it to be considered “low THC,” the prosecution must prove that the oil was less than a 5% concentration of THC. Thus, the GBI crime lab must provide to the State, as well as to the defense, an analysis of THC concentration, which does not always happen in every case. If this is not provided, the prosecution will have difficulty proving that the oil is above a 5% concentration of THC, and therefore, an experienced criminal defense attorney could negotiate for a felony possession of THC oil charge to be reduced down to a misdemeanor.

CONTACT US

Due to the complexity of the charge of possession of THC oil, as well as the severity of the punishment, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such serious allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know the possible options of an accused arrested and charged with possession of THC oil, we are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations, and we work tirelessly at advocating for our client’s rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of THC oil, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

What to Do if you are Arrested for Child Molestation in Bibb County, Georgia

If you or a loved one is arrested for child molestation in Macon, Georgia (Bibb County), 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 Bibb County District Attorney is the Honorable Anita Howard. Her office has a dedicated division called the Crimes Against Women and Children Unit. The Bibb County DA’s will vigorously prosecute you if you are charged with child molestation.

Your case will be presided over by one of the four elected Superior Court judges.

  1. Judge Philip T. Raymond, III
  2. Judge Connie L. Williford
  3. Judge David L. Mincey
  4. Chief Judge Howard Z. Simms

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

Make sure your attorney has had jury trials in child molestation cases and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle child molestation cases.

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 in Bibb County.

  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 in Bibb County.

  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 or any sex offense in Bibb County, 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.

Child Molestation Charges in Fulton County, Georgia

Child Molestation is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. If you are arrested in Fulton County or the City of Atlanta for child molestation, please do not make any statements to the police. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of child molestation. The Fulton County Crimes Against Women and Children Unit zealously prosecutes these cases and they are very prepared. Many allegations of child molestation are false. Even if you know the allegation of child molestation against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself.

If you are arrested, you will be on the 11am calendar the following morning for First Appearance. At this hearing, the Fulton County Magistrate Judge will read the warrants to you. They then might consider bond depending on the allegations but will likely deny bond in a child molestation. You will then need to file a motion for a formal bond hearing and a preliminary hearing. These hearings take place at the Fulton County Courthouse. It is crucial to get an attorney retained to be at the First Appearance hearing at the Fulton County jail.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4 defines child molestation as follows:

A person commits the offense of child molestation when such person: Does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the accused OR by means of electronic device, transmits images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person.

Child Molestation is a specific intent crime. Whether the accused has the requisite intent when he committed the act of child molestation is up to a jury. The jury can infer the requisite intent of “arousing or satisfying sexual desires” from the commission of the act. However, proof of the accused’s actual arousal is not required. Intent can be inferred from the testimony of the victim or from the actions of the accused.

No penetration is required for child molestation. All that is required is the touching of the child’s body along with the requisite intent. It does not matter whether the child was clothed or unclothed in determining whether the act was immoral or indecent.

The indictment does not have to allege the specific details of the child molestation. It can use general language of the statute.

The punishment for child molestation is a mandatory of 5 years to 20 years in prison. If it a second conviction for child molestation then it can be life in prison or a mandatory 10 years up to 30 years in prison.

If someone is making an allegation of child molestation against you in Fulton County or the City of Atlanta, it is imperative that you do not talk to the police, do not talk to the person who is accusing you of child molestation and call us. Time is of the essence to properly investigate the 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. Our office is in Fulton County.

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.