DeKalb 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 DeKalb County will be prosecuted by the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.  It is a felony charge, and the DeKalb County 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 DeKalb County Superior Court located at 556 N McDonough St, Decatur, GA 30030.

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 DeKalb 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 DeKalb County or the Decatur and 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.

Governor Kemp Signs Bill that will Enhance Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding in Cherokee County, 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 in Cherokee County. This bill went 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 Cherokee County. 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, in Cherokee County, 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 or attempting to elude in Cherokee County, Georgia, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

The Statute of Limitations in Georgia

The statute of limitations means how long the State has to bring charges against an individual after a crime has been committed (not how long the state has to actually try the case). In Georgia, there are several categories of crimes that determine the length of the statute of limitations:

  • Murder- none
  • Other felonies punishable by death or life imprisonment- 7 years
  • Forcible rape- 15 years
  • Offenses of armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery when DNA evidence is used to establish the ID of the accused – none
  • Trafficking a person for sexual servitude, cruelty to children in the first degree, rape, aggravated sodomy, child molestation or aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, or incest against children less than 16 years old committed on and after July 1, 2012- none
  • Other felonies- 4 years
  • Felonies committed against victims less than 18 years old- 7 years
  • Misdemeanors- 2 years

The statute of limitations is “tolled” (or suspended) until the crime becomes known. This means that the clock does not start running until the crime is known. The state often argues that the crime becomes “known” when the state becomes aware of the charges (i.e. a victim reports the crime to authorities). However, a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision, State v. Jones (case cite: S22A0425), clarifies this issue. The Georgia Supreme Court held in Jones held that a crime becomes known, and thus the statute of limitations begins running, when the crime is known to the victim. This means that if a victim waits until the statute of limitations has run out, charges may not be brought. The Court cites their earlier decision in Harper v. State saying that ““the actual knowledge of a crime victim about the crime is imputed to the State for purposes of applying the tolling provision”, and that “the correct date to apply in analyzing the statute of limitation is the date that the crime became known to the victim of the crime.”  Another decision, Womack v. State clearly says that “it seems to be well settled that . . . the knowledge of the victim is the knowledge of the State . . . .”

If you believe that you have been charged with a crime outside of the statute of limitations in Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Cobb or Clayton Counties, it is important that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of the law. At the Law Office of W. Scott Smith, our attorneys will leave no stone unturned to ensure that charges brought against our clients are legal. If you need representation for any criminal offense, call our offices at 404-581-0999.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes in Fulton County

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in Fulton County. 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. The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has a unit dedicated to prosecuting sex crimes.

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 Fulton County District Attorney 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.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office vigorously prosecutes these cases.

Do not wait until the Fulton County District Attorney 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.

Call me at 404-581-0999 and let’s schedule a time to meet and discuss your case.

Have you been charged with Possession of a firearm, Tools, or Knife during the Commission of a Felony in DeKalb County?

While Georgia laws are more lenient when one is “carrying” a firearm, there is less leniency when one is in possession of a firearm when committing a crime. In Georgia, if you bring a weapon to commit an offense it is assumed that you are intending  and/or willing to hurt or kill another person. The State of Georgia considers it a separate crime to possess a weapon when one is committing illegal acts. Which means that you can be charged with two separate crimes for the same offense.

What does the law say?

OCGA 16-11-106 states that it is a felony for any person to have within arm’s reach of their person a firearm or a knife having a blade of three or more inches in length during the commission of, or the attempt to commit any of the following offenses:

  1. Any crime against another person
  2. The unlawful entry into a building or vehicle
  3. The theft from a building or vehicle
  4. Any crime involving possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution dispensing, administering, selling, or possession with intent to distribute ANY controlled substance or
  5. Any crime involving trafficking drugs (methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, etc.)

Under this statute “within arm’s reach” means to have immediate access to.

What is the punishment for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony?

A first conviction is punishable by five (5) years in prison CONSECUTIVELY.

A second or subsequent conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a sentence of ten (10) years in prison consecutively (cannot be suspended or probated).

Under the law the sentence for this charge will run consecutive to the underlying crime. This means that the sentence cannot run concurrently (at the same time) as the underlying felony. For example, if you commit a burglary and are sentenced to 5 years in prison and receive a sentence of 5 years for carrying a firearm, your total sentence is 10 years in prison.

If you or someone you know needs help with weapon charges in DeKalb County, having a lawyer help you through the process can ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Statutory Rape in Cobb County

Statutory Rape in Cobb County 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 Cobb County 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 in Cobb County, 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.

If you are arrested in Cobb County for Statutory Rape, you will see a Cobb Magistrate judge the following day. At this initial court date, the Cobb Magistrate Judge will read the warrant to you and may consider bond. If bond is not given at first appearance, you will be reset to a preliminary hearing and bond hearing date in front of another Cobb County Magistrate judge.

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  Cobb County 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.

 

Have you been charged with Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Butts County?

In Georgia, if you have been convicted of a felony the law does not allow for you to have a firearm.  If you are caught being in possession of a firearm, and you are a convicted felon, you can be punished by a sentence of 1-10 years.

What is possession?

Possession of a firearm can be actual or constructive.  Actual possession means that the person has direct control of the firearm i.e., on their person, in their vehicle, etc. Constructive possession is having knowledge of the firearms location and knowledge of its existence being near you but not on your person. For example, living in the same house with someone who has firearms is illegal and you can be charged.

Sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon?

A first-time conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.

A second or subsequent conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a sentence of 5-10 years in prison.

If you or someone you know needs help with weapon charges in Butts County, having a lawyer help you through the process can ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Cobb 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 Cobb County will be prosecuted by the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.  It is a felony charge, and the Cobb 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 Cobb County Superior Court located at 70 Haynes St, Marietta, GA 30090.

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 Reckess Drviving 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 Cobb 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 Cobb County or the Marietta 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.

 

Have you been charged with Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in DeKalb County?

In Georgia, if you have been convicted of a felony the law does not allow for you to have a firearm.  If you are caught being in possession of a firearm, and you are a convicted felon, you can be punished by a sentence of 1-10 years.

What is possession?

Possession of a firearm can be actual or constructive.  Actual possession means that the person has direct control of the firearm i.e., on their person, in their vehicle, etc. Constructive possession is having knowledge of the firearms location and knowledge of its existence being near you but not on your person. For example, living in the same house with someone who has firearms is illegal and you can be charged.

Sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon?

A first-time conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.

A second or subsequent conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a sentence of 5-10 years in prison.

If you or someone you know needs help with weapon charges in DeKalb County, having a lawyer help you through the process can ensure your rights are protected. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Aggravated Child Molestation in Bartow County

Aggravated Child Molestation is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. In fact, it is the worst crime that one can be accused of committing. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of aggravated child molestation in Bartow County. Many allegations of aggravated child molestation are false. Even if you know the allegation of aggravated child molestation against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself. All it takes is the word of the child, if believed, to convict you.

The Bartow County Courthouse is at 135 W. Cherokee Avenue, Cartersville, Georgia 30120

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

A person commits the offense of aggravated child molestation when such person commits an offense of child molestation which physically injures the child or involves an act of sodomy.

If the alleged victim was physically injured then it is not necessary for the state to prove sodomy.

It must be shown that the alleged victim was under 16 at the time of the act in order to be charged with aggravated child molestation.

Penetration or force is not a requirement of aggravated child molestation. The victim’s testimony that it was painful is sufficient to prove physical injury and no medical evidence is required to corroborate.

If you are convicted of aggravated child molestation in Bartow County, then the sentence will either be life imprisonment or a split sentence of a mandatory minimum of 25 years imprisonment and probation for life. The defendant will also have to be placed on the sex offender registry for life.

If someone is making an allegation of aggravated child molestation against you, it is imperative that you do not talk to the police, do not talk to the person who is accusing you of aggravated child molestation and call us. Time is of the essence to properly investigate the allegations.

Do not wait until the   Bartow County District Attorney actually returns an indictment against you before seeking an attorney. Child Molestation cases can be proven solely on the victim’s own testimony. Therefore, 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.