DeKalb County – Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer – Criminal Defense Attorney

Obstruction of a law enforcement officer can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The Statute governing Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer can be found at O.C.G.A. 16-10-24. If the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in DeKalb County, the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case, whereby if it is a felony charge, it will be sent to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office. The biggest difference between a misdemeanor obstruction case and the felony obstruction case is the maximum punishment if convicted. If you have been arrested in DeKalb County for Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, the first step is to be brought in front of a DeKalb Magistrate Judge for a First Appearance hearing. At the First Appearance hearing, the Judge will read off the charges, notify you of your rights, and possibly set a bond. An attorney can be present at this stage to advocate for a reasonable bond.

 

DeKalb County Misdemeanor Obstruction

Misdemeanor obstruction is when one knowingly and willingly obstructs or hinders a law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her lawful duties. This includes police officers, but also probation officers,  jailers, or game wardens.

There are a few ways one can “obstruct” an officer under Georgia law. First, you can prevent an officer from discharging their official duties by running away, arguing, lying, or doing something that makes it more difficult or completely prevents them from doing their job. This would be classified as misdemeanor obstruction in Georgia and is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You don’t have to make any physical contact with the officer to be charged with misdemeanor obstruction. Felony obstruction, on the other hand, typically does involve physical contact with an officer, or a threat of violence.

 

DeKalb County Felony Obstruction

Felony Obstruction is more serious under Georgia law and typically involves violence or threats of violence.  If you make violent contact with an officer in the process of he or she discharging their legal duties, or you threaten violence on an officer, you may be charged with felony obstruction of justice. Felony obstruction, both in DeKalb and across the State, carries a mandatory one-to-five year sentence for a first offense. It is a mandatory 2 to 10 years on a second offense, and 3 to 15 years on a third.

 

Defenses to Obstruction in DeKalb County and in Georgia

Both felony and misdemeanor Obstruction of Law Enforcement cases are taken seriously in the DeKalb County justice system and throughout the State. There are, however, numerous defenses. For example, it is not against the law to obstruct a police officer during an unlawful arrest. Under Georgia law, it is also not Obstruction of a Law Enforcement to Officer to not immediately respond to an officer’s order. In order to obstruct, there must first be a clear command by law enforcement, not simply a request. As you can see, Obstruction of Law Enforcement is a fact-based inquiry under Georgia law. If you have been charged with Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, call us today at 404-581-0999 so we can get you into the office for a free consultation.

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

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

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 in Clayton County.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases in Clayton County. 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 Clayton County 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.
    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 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 Clayton County.

  1. Never talk to law enforcement or the Clayton County District Attorney’s office 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 in Clayton County, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999. 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.

Clayton Obstruction

Clayton County Obstruction Attorney

Obstruction of a law enforcement officer can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The Statute governing Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer can be found at O.C.G.A. 16-10-24. If the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Clayton County, the Clayton County Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case, whereby if it is a felony charge, it will be sent to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office. The biggest difference between a misdemeanor obstruction case and the felony obstruction case is the maximum punishment if convicted. you have been arrested in Clayton County for Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, the first step is to be brought in front of a Clayton Magistrate Judge for a First Appearance hearing. At the First Appearance hearing, the Judge will read off the charges, notify you of  your rights, and possibly set a bond. An attorney can be present at this stage to advocate for a reasonable bond.

 

Clayton Misdemeanor Obstruction

Misdemeanor obstruction is when one knowingly and willingly obstructs or hinders a law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her lawful duties. This includes police officers, but also probation officers,  jailers, or game wardens.

There are a few ways one can “obstruct” an officer under Georgia law. First, you can prevent an officer from discharging their official duties by running away, arguing, lying, or doing something that makes it more difficult or completely prevents them from doing their job. This would be classified as misdemeanor obstruction in Georgia and is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You don’t have to make any physical contact with the officer to be charged with misdemeanor obstruction. Felony obstruction, on the other hand, typically does involve physical contact with an officer, or a threat of violence.

 

Clayton Felony Obstruction

Felony Obstruction is more serious under Georgia law and typically involves violence or threats of violence.  If you make violent contact with an officer in the process of he or she discharging their legal duties, or you threaten violence on an officer, you may be charged with felony obstruction of justice. Felony obstruction, both in Clayton and across the State, carries a mandatory one-to-five year sentence for a first offense. It is a mandatory 2 to 10 years on a second offense, and 3 to 15 years on a third.

 

Defenses to Obstruction in Clayton County and in Georgia

Both felony and misdemeanor Obstruction cases are taken seriously in the Clayton County justice system and throughout the State. There are, however, defenses. For example, it is not against the law to obstruct a police officer during an unlawful arrest. Under Georgia law, it is also not Obstruction of a Law Enforcement to Officer to not immediately respond to an officer’s order. In order to obstruct, there must first be a clear command by law enforcement, not simply a request. As you can see, Obstruction of Law Enforcement is a fact-based inquiry under Georgia law. If you have been charged with Obstruction, call us today at 404-581-0999 so we can get you into the office for a free consultation.

Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County

If you have been arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County, it is imperative that you hire an attorney quickly. Possession with Intent to Distribute cases often are won by filing a Motion to Suppress. These motions must be filed within 10 days of arraignment. If you do not properly file them, they are waived and you will potentially lose the ability to beat your case.

Once you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute in Clayton County, you will be brought over to see a Clayton County Magistrate Court judge within the first 24 hours. At this hearing, the Magistrate judge will read the charges to you and possibly set a bond.

The statute says It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, sell, or possession with the intent to distribute any controlled substance. O.C.G.A. 16-13-30(b).

What does the Clayton County District Attorney have to prove?

The Clayton County prosecutor must prove that the Defendant intended to sell or distribute the drug that is in his possession. If you are simply in possession of the drug but not intending to sell or distribute it, then you cannot be convicted of Possession with Intent.

However, even if you possess only a small amount of a drug, you can still be charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute. To prove intent to sell, the State would have to show evidence of baggies, a scale, large amount of currency or other drug paraphernalia. The Clayton County District Attorney could also show it through a prior conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute or expert testimony that the amount was consistent with someone selling it rather than just using for personal consumption.

If you are charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute in Clayton County, please call us at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. We are located in downtown Atlanta.

Governor Kemp Signs Bill that will Enhance Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding in Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

On April 25th, 2022, Governor Kemp signed legislation to further public safety efforts in the State of Georgia. One of the bills that he signed, which was passed in the House, as well as the Senate, will enhance or increase penalties and sentencing for individuals charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. This bill will go into effect on July 1st, 2022.

This bill states that:

  • It is unlawful for a driver to fail to stop his/her vehicle or attempt to flee or elude a police officer when he/she is given a visual or audible signal to stop.
  • Any person convicted of a first, second, or third violation of this law will be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor.
  • Any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this law will be guilty of a felony.

Sentencing:

  • The penalties for a first conviction will be a fine of at least $1,000 and 30 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a second conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $2,500 and 90 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a third conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $4,000 and 180 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a fourth conviction, and any subsequent conviction, within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $5,000 and 12 months in custody.

This bill will dramatically change the penalties for fleeing and eluding in Georgia. A high and aggravated misdemeanor generally means that the accused will have to serve the entire jail-sentence in custody without the possibility of receiving 2 for 1 credit. The fourth conviction of this crime in a 10-year period will constitute a felony offense. Furthermore, a nolo contendere plea will not avoid mandatory jail time, or a conviction.

Any arrests that occur prior to July 1st, 2022, for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer will still be pursuant to the prior statute that allows for lower penalties and sentencing. However, if an accused is arrested for fleeing and eluding on, or after, July 1st, 2022, the sentencing will be enhanced pursuant to this new law.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the punishment for fleeing and eluding based on this new legislation, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of this new law, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with fleeing and eluding, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Fulton County Serious Injury by Vehicle

DUI and Reckless Driving charges are considered misdemeanors in Georgia. However, if you were arrested for DUI or Reckless Driving and there was an accident with serious injuries involved, it is likely you will be arrested for the felony offense of Serious Injury by Vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394.

 

A Serious Injury by Vehicle case in Fulton County will be prosecuted by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.  It is a felony charge, and the Fulton District Attorney has four years from the date of arrest to bring formal charges against you. Once your case is indicted or accused within the statute of limitations, your first court date will be your Arraignment date. This takes place at the Fulton County Courthouse located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303. At your arraignment date, you will have the opportunity to enter a Not Guilty plea and make a demand to see the evidence. It is imperative to have an attorney at this phase in the case because certain Constitutional motions must be filed within 10 days of this court date, or the issues are waived. This means that an attorney must file motions challenging the constitutionality of the stop and the arrest, within 10 days of the Arraignment date, or you will lose the ability to fight the case on these issues later on.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor DUI and a Serious Injury by Vehicle?

The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the punishment and the other collateral consequences. DUI and Reckless Driving are misdemeanor crimes, and thus carry a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail. On the other hand, Serious Injury by Vehicle is a felony charges which could result in much lengthier punishment as society views felonies, generally, more harshly. Specifically, for the felony charge of Serious Injury by Vehicle, the minimum punishment is 1 year in prison, while the maximum is 15 years. Certain factors like the blood alcohol content, or whether there was any prior convictions can elevate punishment significantly. Compare that to a Driving Under the Influence charge where the minimum punishment is just 24 hours along with conditions like community service and DUI school.

What about my License?

The Department of Driver Services also treats this crime harshly, and if you plea or are found guilty of Serious Injury by Vehicle in Fulton County or anywhere in the State, you are facing a driver’s license suspension for a period of three years in addition to the other requirements imposed by the Court.

The State does not have to prove you committed an unsafe act like speeding, cutting someone off, or hitting someone’s vehicle from the back. They can proceed only on the fact you were DUI and caused an injury under the statute, even if you were not the cause of the accident.

In order for the State to prove Serious Injury by Vehicle, they must prove the injuries were serious enough to fall under the statute. Courts have held broken bones, being unable to walk well for a period of time, and certainly brain damage, all to be sufficient for the state to proceed on felony charge.

Take the next step

If you or someone you know have been arrested for Serious Injury by Vehicle in Fulton County or the Atlanta area, it is imperative to meet with a law firm who has a high-level skill in DUI defense as well as in Serious Injury by Vehicle cases. Your future and your freedom depend on it. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

 

I was arrested with a warrant, and they did not bring me to court, what do I do?

If you have been arrested, booked into the County Jail, and there is a warrant, you must be brought before a Judge within 72 hours. If you are not brought before a judge within 72 hours, you must be released from custody.

Under O.C.G.A. § 17-4-26, it requires the law enforcement officer to “exercise reasonable diligence in bringing the person arrested before the judicial officer authorized to examine, commit, or receive bail and in any event to present the person arrested before a committing judicial office within 72 hours of arrest.” Further, “[a]n arrested person who is not notified before the hearing of the time and place of commitment hearing, shall be released.” Chisholm v. State, 231 Ga. App. 835, 840 (1998)

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a charge with a warrant, and they have not been brought before a judge, 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.

Child Molestation in Douglas County

Child Molestation is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. If you are arrested in Douglas County  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 Douglas County District Attorney’s Office has a unit called the Crimes Against Women and Children Unit and they zealously prosecute 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 a calendar the next day for First Appearance. At this hearing, the Douglas 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 Douglas County jail.  It is crucial to get an attorney retained to be at the First Appearance hearing at the Douglas County courthouse.

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 Douglas County, 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 downtown Atlanta.

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.

Marijuana Trafficking at the Atlanta Airport

News reports of airline travel being back to 90 percent of pre-covid flying will lead to more scrutiny at the airport for passengers flying into Atlanta’ s airport.  Atlanta has the world’s largest airport: Jackson-Hartsfield International Airport.  In a discussion I had with a DEA agent, he told me on every flight from California, Arizona, and Colorado there will be a passenger on the flight with a large amount of trafficking marijuana.  Even though Marijuana is legal in some states, it is still illegal in Georgia.  If you get stopped by Clayton County, Drug Enforcement Agents or Atlanta Police, and you are found to be carrying greater than ten pounds of marijuana in your luggage you will be arrested for Marijuana Trafficking and taken to the Clayton County Jail.  In all cases, the first appearance judge will deny you a bond.  On every case our firm has been hired to assist couriers charged with marijuana trafficking in Atlanta, we have been able to get the client a bond in Clayton County.  In order to get a bond, you need to acquire copies of the warrants and incident reports.  The state’s prosecutor in Clayton County will want to run the subject’s criminal history.  Once those items are acquired, you can get a consent bond and bond out of jail.  It is also helpful if the person traveling has money (shows they are a courier and not seller), they fly very infrequently and they were cooperative to law enforcement.  However, people flying should never consent to a search of their luggage, as consent is voluntary and nobody should be subject to search of their person or personal effects such as luggage without a warrant.  If you or a loved one gets charged with marijuana trafficking at the Atlanta Airport, please do not hesitate to call our law office so we can assist with representation.  Our phone number is 404-581-0999.

Stalking in Butts County

If you have been arrested for stalking in Butts County, it is imperative that you fight your case. It is a serious crime in Georgia.

Stalking is when you follow, place under surveillance, or contact another person at or about a place without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person; OR if you are violation of a bond, order of the court, or condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole that prohibits the harassment or intimidation of another person, broadcasts or publishes without the person’s consent in such a manner that causes other persons to harass or intimidate that person and the person making the broadcast or publication knew or had reason to know that such act would cause the person to be harassed or intimidated by others. O.C.G.A. 16-5-90(a).

Aggravated Stalking is when in violation of a bond, order of the court, condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole in effect prohibiting the behavior described herein, follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place without the consent of the person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.

What are the elements of Aggravated Stalking:

  1. The defendant violated an order.
  2. This order prohibited contact with the victim.
  3. It was done without the victim’s consent
  4. The purpose was to harass or intimidate.

If # 4 is not met, then it is criminal contempt under O.C.G.A. 15-6-8(5).

Keep in mind, that proof of a written no contact order is not required. But there needs to be proof that the instruction was given and received by the defendant.

How do you define “contact” with the victim?

Contact is any communication, whether in person, by phone, by text, email , social media etc….

Where does the Stalking take place?

It includes any public or private property occupied by the victim, excluding the defendant’s residence, where the communication is received.

What is meant by Harassing and Intimidating Contact?

  1. A knowing and willful course of conduct directed specifically at the victim.
  2. The victim suffers emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear of their safety
  3. Establish a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior. (There has to be more than 1 contact)
  4. There is no legitimate purpose to this contact.

What does the Court look for in determining whether the contact is harassing and intimidating?

  1. The prior history between the defendant and victim.
  2. Whether the contact is overly confrontational
  3. Any attempts by the defendant to contact, communicate, or control the victim through another party.

The behavior of the defendant does not have to include threats of death or bodily harm. The defendant does not even have to make overt threats to the victim in a Stalking case.

What is NOT Stalking?

Georgia law does not prohibit a person from contacting or communicating with another person without consent, if the contact is not done with a harassing or intimidating purpose.

What am I facing if I am convicted of Stalking or Aggravated Stalking?

  1. Stalking:
    1. The first conviction for stalking is a Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine
    2. A second conviction for Stalking is a felony and carries up to 1 to 10 years in prison.
  2. Aggravated Stalking
    1. Aggravated Stalking carries up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If you are charged with Stalking or Aggravated Stalking in Butts County, it is important to get a lawyer as there are defenses to your case. A Stalking conviction on your record can carry many collateral consequences in addition to the punishment imposed by the court.

The courthouse is downtown Jackson, Georgia. We would be happy to assist you with your case in Butts County.

Call us at 404-581-0999 or visit us at www.peachstatelawyer.com for a free consultation.