Child Hearsay in Georgia

If you are charged with child molestation, cruelty to children, or any crime, in Georgia, where a child is the alleged victim, the State will fie a Motion to Admit Child Hearsay testimony.

This is pursuant to O.C.G.A. 24-8-820. This status is the Georgia Child Hearsay Statute.

O.C.G.A. 24-8-820 reads as follows:

(a) A statement made by a child younger than 16 years of age describing any act of sexual contact or physical abuse performed with or on such child by another or with or on another in the presence of such child shall be admissible in evidence by the testimony of the person to whom made if the proponent of such statement provides notice to the adverse party prior to trial of the intention to use such out-of-court statement and such child testifies at trial, unless the adverse party forfeits or waives such child’s testimony as provide in this title, and, at the time of the testimony regarding the out-of-court statements, the person to whom the child made such statement is subject to cross-examination regarding the out-of-court statements.

All that is required is:

  1. Notice to the defendant of the State’s intention to use such statements.
  2. The child testifying at trial, unless the defendant waives it.
  3. The person to whom the statements were made is subject to cross-examination.

You will need to be prepared to challenge the credibility and the underlying facts of any witness who takes the stand against you and claims that the child made statements to them about the sexual contact or physical abuse. Do not waive the child’s presence at trial. Make the child testify.

In cases of child molestation, there is rarely physical evidence. The entire case comes down to credibility. It is the defendant’s credibility vs. the child’s and the child’s witness’s credibility. Do not forfeit the right to a thorough cross-examination of the child and their witnesses.

These child hearsay witnesses can include testimony of physicians, investigators, parents, other family members, forensic interviewers and any other person who spoke to the child about the allegations.

You must be prepared to challenge each of these statements.

Child Molestation and Cruelty to Children carry severe penalties in Georgia. Do not make statements to the police about the allegations. You must hire a qualified attorney and be prepared to vigorously fight your case at trial.

Please call us at 404-581-0999 if you are charged with any crime involving a child in Georgia.

Tests and Refusals: Know Your Rights

When someone is pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Georgia, they will be asked to perform a series of tasks that could indicate potential impairment to the arresting police officer. It is important to note that these tests are entirely voluntary. If you choose not to perform the tests, your refusal statement cannot be used against you in trial in any attempt to generate incriminating evidence. This is because mandating field sobriety tests would violate the right of self-incrimination. The same can be said when the police officer asks for your consent to any blood testing or breath testing. Although the officer can obtain a search warrant, you do not have to submit to chemical testing on the spot. Do not be misled into believing that if you refuse these chemical tests, your statement of refusal will be used against you at trial.  If you’ve been pulled over for a DUI, contact us today.

Recidivist Statute

A felony conviction has serious consequences. Punishment for a felony offense typically includes prison time, probation, fines, loss of constitutional rights and privileges, and a lifelong blemish on the person’s criminal record. Not only does a felony conviction impact the person’s ability to obtain employment and housing, but, under O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7, a prior felony conviction can be used to enhance a sentence on a new felony conviction. This article serves to explore the “Repeat Offenders” statute dealing with recidivist sentencing and Georgia’s ‘three strikes’ rule.

O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7 (a) – Recidivist Provision

If someone has one prior felony conviction and they are convicted of a felony a second time, the judge must to sentence the offender to the maximum term of imprisonment as set out in the statute they’ve been convicted of. However, the judge does have the discretion to probate or suspend that maximum sentence. Furthermore, in order to obtain a recidivist sentence under 17-10-7, the State must give the defendant clear notice before trial of its intention to seek such a sentence; the State must also prove that the prior conviction was for a crime which, if committed within Georgia, would be a felony.  Wheeler v. State, 270 Ga.App. 363 (2004).

O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7 (c) – Three Strikes Rule  

Any person who has been convicted of three felonies and commits a felony within Georgia shall, upon conviction for such fourth offense or for subsequent offenses, serve the maximum time provided for the sentence. The judge will not be able to reduce the sentence, the offender will not be eligible for parole until the maximum sentence has been served, and early release is unavailable. A person sentenced under the Three Strikes Rule will have to serve every day of the imposed sentence.

 

I take prescription medication. Can I drive?

The short answer is “it depends.” Most people correlate DUI conviction with alcohol. However, you can still be convicted of a DUI without having any alcohol in your system. Generally speaking, any sort of prescription medication that impairs and affects your driving could be the reason of a police officer stopping you. Typical prescription drugs that could lead to a DUI arrest are Xanax, certain antihistamines, sleep aids, and antidepressants. However, it is the burden of the State and the prosecutor to show that someone who takes prescription medicine is incapable of driving without being impaired.  If you are prescribed prescription medicine, consult with your doctor to determine if it would impair your driving and never take more than the prescribed dose.

Georgia Peeping Tom Lawyer

Georgia Peeping Tom Lawyer

Georgia law defines a Peeping Tom as someone who peeps through windows or doors on the premises of another for the purpose of spying or invading the privacy of the other person. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-61.

Interestingly, the State is not required to show that the spying was successful, meaning whether or not the person to be spied upon was actually in view.

 

Is Peeping Tom a misdemeanor or felony in Georgia?

 

In Georgia, Peeping Tom is a felony offense. Under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-69, the sentence for a conviction for Peeping Tom is punishment of 1-5 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $10,000 or both.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Peeping Tom in Georgia, please call the attorneys at W. Scott Smith PC for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Have you been charged with attempted murder in Georgia and do not know why?

Georgia law provides that 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. Implied malice is a term which has been defined to mean conduct exhibiting a reckless disregard for human life. Specifically, the Supreme Court of Georgia has held that extremely negligent conduct, which creates what a reasonable man would realize to be not only an unjustifiable but also a very high degree of risk of death or serious bodily injury to another or to others – though unaccompanied by any intent to kill or do serious bodily injury – and which actually causes the death of another, may constitute murder. Reckless disregard for human life may be the equivalent of a specific intent to kill. Evidence that the defendant acted in reckless disregard for human life is, for purposes of demonstrating his guilt of the crime of malice murder, as equally probative as evidence that he acted with a specific intent to kill. So, when does the charge become attempt? A person commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, he performs any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime. Intentionally shooting someone can be a substantial step toward the commission of the crime of murder.

For attempted murder, the court will look to your prior intentional acts of violence against the alleged victim. Similarly, if you do not have prior difficulties with the alleged victim, this lack of evidence may support a claim the act was not intentional.

In a Georgia case of Mills v. State, the Supreme Court held in 2010 the evidence supported a finding of both express and implied malice. The defendant had threatened to kill the victim in the past if he caught her cheating on him and had cut her while holding a knife to her throat. The defendant again threatened to kill the victim just hours before the shooting. Later, while high and drunk, the defendant complained that the victim had another man coming to their residence too frequently, and, to show he was serious, the defendant climbed into bed with the victim holding a loaded 9mm handgun with his finger on the trigger, pointed the gun at her, and shot her in the head while her two-year-old son was on the bed next to her. He then failed to seek medical aid and instead sought to dispose of the murder weapon. This evidence was sufficient to show from the external circumstances that the defendant caused the victim’s death with deliberate intention, thereby establishing express malice. In addition, there was no “considerable provocation” for the shooting even under the defendant’s own version of events, and a rational jury could find that the circumstances surrounding the killing showed that the defendant had an abandoned and malignant heart, thereby establishing implied malice.

Have you been charged with attempted murder in Georgia 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.

I’m charged with Felony Murder, but I didn’t kill anyone

In Georgia, there are two ways you can be charged with murder without pulling a trigger, so to speak. The first way is being charged with felony murder. The other is being charged as party to a crime, but that is for a different blog. Felony Murder means an individual died during the commission of a felony, even if there was no intent to cause a death. The underlying felony must be of the type that is inherently dangerous, or the circumstances of the felony create a foreseeable risk of death.

To give you an example, person X and person V get into a fight. X has no intention of ending V’s life but beats V so badly, V ends up dying from his injuries. X will likely be charged with aggravated battery for the beating and felony murder based on the aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is an inherently dangerous felony, and it caused the death of V. It is also becoming increasingly common for the state to charge a dealer or provider of drugs with felony murder after someone dies from an overdose.

The penalty for felony murder is the SAME as malice murder or with the intent to kill. It carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, with or without parole. In Georgia, 30 years of the life sentence must be served before you are eligible for parole. Give us a call for a free case consultation at 404-581-0999.

Conditional Discharge or Drug First Offender

Conditional Discharge or Drug First Offender is a once in a lifetime opportunity that allows someone who has been charged for the first time with possessing drugs or a non-violent property crime related to drug or alcohol addiction to resolve their case without a felony conviction. The resolution will typically involve probation and some sort of rehabilitation and treatment. Once the terms of the sentence are completed successfully the case will be dismissed and will not be considered a conviction. Conditional discharge may still be available even if you have previously used first offender. Drug offenses can have significant collateral consequences. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense, it is very important you speak with an experience attorney. Please give us a call at 404-581-0998 for a free case consultation.

Fulton County Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps or Medicaid – O.C.G.A. § 49-4-15

In Georgia, it is a crime to make a false statement, fail to disclose information, impersonate another, or engage in other fraudulent activities in obtaining public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid.

This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the total amount of the value of the public assistance. If the amount of food stamps or public assistance is less than $1,500, then it will be charged as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, the maximum penalty for misdemeanors is 12 months in custody and a $1000 fine. If the value of public assistance exceeds $1500, it will be treated as a felony. Under Georgia law, individuals convicted of felony fraud in obtaining food stamps or Medicaid face a one to five-year imprisonment.

The statute lays out several different examples of fraudulent activity that can fall under this statute:

(1) Knowingly using, altering, or transferring food stamp coupons to purchase food stamp coupons in any manner not authorized by law;

(2) Knowingly possessing food stamp coupons or authorizations to purchase food stamp coupons when he or she is not authorized by law to possess them;

(3) Knowingly possessing or redeeming food stamp coupons or benefits when he or she is not authorized by law to possess or redeem them; or

(4) Knowingly using food stamp coupons or benefits in any manner or for purposes not authorized by law.

Apart from being susceptible to arrest under this statute, the legislation mandates that the individual is also obligated to reimburse the state.

If you have been charged with Food Stamp Fraud in Fulton County, your first court date will be known as your First Appearance Hearing. This hearing will occur shortly after your arrest and will apprise you of your charges and evaluate the case for bond. Following this hearing, the case will be accused or indicted by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and assigned a Judge. The address to the Fulton County Courthouse is 136 Pryor St SW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps, or Medicaid in Fulton County or in Georgia, call the criminal defense lawyers at Law office of W. Scott Smith for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Necrophilia in Fulton County

Necrophilia is a serious crime in Georgia.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-7: A person commits the offense of necrophilia when he performs any sexual act with a dead human body involving the sex organs of the one and the mouth, anus, penis or vagina of the other.

If you are arrested for necrophilia in Fulton County, you will be taken to first appearance the following day after your arrest. You will be the Fulton County Jail at 901 Rice Street.

The Fulton County District Attorney will indict you and you will need an attorney to zealously defend you.

A person convicted of necrophilia in Fulton County is punishable by imprisonment for not less than 1 nor more than 10 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.