Criminal Defense in Newton County, Georgia

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, then you have come to the right place.  We specialize in criminal defense and stand ready to defend you.  The first question that needs to be answered is where your case will be heard.  If you are charged with a felony, then your case will begin in magistrate court and finish in superior court.  The first appearance, initial bond hearing, and preliminary hearing are all heard by a magistrate judge at the Newton County Jail located at 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014.  After these initial hearings, your case will be transferred to Newton County Superior Court in the Newton County Judicial Center located at 1132 Usher St, Covington, GA 30014.  The Judicial Center also houses the Magistrate Court, Juvenile Court, and Probate Court of Newton County.

Unlike some of the larger metropolitan counties, Newton County does not have a state court so even misdemeanor offenses will be heard in the Superior Court.  If you are charged with a serious misdemeanor, then your case will go straight to Superior Court.  Otherwise, your case will likely begin in Newton County Probate Court or one of the three municipalities in Newton County:  Covington, Porterdale, or Oxford.  

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Covington, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Covington located at 1143 Oak Street, Covington, GA 30015.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Porterdale, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Porterdale located at 2800 Main Street, Porterdale, GA 30014.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Oxford, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Oxford located at 110 West Clark Street, Oxford, GA 30054.

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, call us today at 404-581-0999 to ensure you get the best outcome possible.

Georgia Criminal Law – Incest

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

The Offense

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

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

The Penalty

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

Defenses

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

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

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

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

Contact Us

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

Child Molestation Charges: What To Do

If you or a loved one is arrested for child molestation in Georgia, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence.

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Child molestation charges are aggressively prosecuted in Georgia and prosecutors 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 these cases.

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

The Steps

Here is what you should do if arrested for child molestation:

  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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

What NOT To Do when Charged with Child Molestation

Here is what you should never do if arrested for child molestation:

  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.

Call us TODAY

If you are arrested for child molestation or any sex offense in Georgia, 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.

Sex Offender GPS Monitoring is Unconstitutional

O.C.G.A. 42-1-14 required a person who is classified as a Level 3 sexually dangerous predator to wear and pay for a GPS Monitoring device even if no longer on probation or parole. This Statute allowed the State to monitor the person’s movements for the remainder of his or her life.

Joseph Park & Sex Offender GPS Monitoring

In 2003, Joseph Park was convicted of child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. Upon his release from custody in 2011, the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board classified him as a sexually dangerous predator under O.C.G.A. 42-1-14(a)(1). This Statute required Park to wear a GPS monitoring system the rest of his life.

Joseph Park challenged this statute on Constitutional grounds. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that O.C.G.A. 42-1-14 was an unreasonable search and violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Court held that the wearing a GPS monitoring device to track the person’s whereabouts 24/7 for the rest of their life, even after the person has served their entire criminal sentence, constituted a significant intrusion upon the privacy of the individual. This would be an unreasonable warrantless search of an individual who is no longer serving their sentence.

The Georgia Legislature is likely already working to draft a new statute to allow for GPS monitoring for life.

Call us today!

If you are arrested for child molestation or any other sex offense in Georgia, it is imperative that you fight the case and win the case at the trial level. If you plead guilty to child molestation or any sex offense and are on the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, you will likely be restricted and monitored by the State even when your criminal sentence is over. It is vital to put the time, effort and money into fighting your child molestation case on the front end.

If you or a loved one are in need of a lawyer who handles child molestation cases and other sex offenses in Georgia, please email me at mike@peachstatelawyer.com or call 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Removal from Sex Offender Registry

Can I get off the Sex Offender Registry in Georgia?

If you are currently on the sex offender registry in Georgia, you can petition a superior court for release pursuant to O.C.G.A. 42-1-19.

You are eligible for removal if you meet one of the following criteria

  1. You have completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense which put you on the Sex Offender Registry AND
    • You are confined to a hospice facility, nursing home, residential care facility or nursing home
    • Are totally and permanently disabled OR
    • Otherwise seriously incapacitated due to illness or injury.
  2. You were sentenced for a crime that subsequently because a misdemeanor offense in Georgia.
  3. You were required to register solely because you were convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment and the offense did not involve a sexual offense.
  4. You have completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the offense which put you on the Sex Offender Registry AND
    • Ten years has passed since you completed all prison, parole, supervised release, and probation for the sexual offense OR
    • You are classified as a Level 1 risk assessment classification. If you have not done a risk assessment classification, the court shall order such classification to be completed prior to considering the petition for release.

What does the court considering when considering whether to remove you from the Registry?

The Court can consider:

  1. Any evidence that is presented on your behalf;
  2. Any evidence that is presented by the District Attorney or Sheriff
  3. Any other relevant evidence.

Where do you file your petition for removal from the Sex Offender Registry?

A petition for removal shall be filed in the Superior Court where you were convicted. If you were convicted in another State, then you can file it in the Superior Court where you currently reside.

If your petition is denied, you have to wait 2 years from the date of the final order on your previous petition.

We would be happy to meet with you and discuss whether to file a petition to remove you from the Sex Offender Registry in Georgia. Please call us at 404-581-0999 or email to mike@peachstatelawyer.com

Rape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


If you face charges in Georgia for Rape, it is imperative that you do not make any statements to law enforcement or to anyone else and immediately seek help from an experienced attorney handling Rape cases in Georgia. You must protect your rights and take this matter very seriously.
The statute of limitation for a prosecution of rape is 15 years.

I would be happy to meet with you any time for a free consultation to discuss your case, your rights and your defenses to these allegations.

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

It is your life, your criminal record and you deserve the best representation possible.

Aggravated Child Molestation

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. 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.

What’s the Law?

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.

Sentencing

If you are convicted of aggravated child molestation, 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 State 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.

Online Solicitation in Georgia

What is online solicitation?

Local law enforcement agencies are conducting more and more online child predator stings. Online solicitation of a child for purposes of engaging in a sexual act is a felony in Georgia. It carries a possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison and a $ 25,000 fine.

The Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit and local law enforcement agencies are conducting operations all over the State of Georgia to catch individuals who are using the internet to solicit underage children for sex.

What should you do?

If you are arrested in one of these stings, do not talk to the police without a lawyer. Do not attempt to tell your side of the story without a lawyer. If the police tell you that they will cut you a break if you speak to them about the case, please tell them that you want a lawyer before making a statement. Nothing you say to law enforcement when you are arrested is going to benefit your case. Do not make any statements such as you thought the person was an adult or that you did not intend to actually go through with the sexual act. Do not talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present.

You have an absolute right to speak to a lawyer before making any statements. If you have already made a statement to the police, then please do not make any further statements without calling a lawyer. The stakes in these cases are too high to not retain a lawyer and fight these allegations. Your freedom is literally at stake in these cases. The State of Georgia and its local law enforcement agencies are aggressively prosecuting these cases.

What qualifies as solicitation?

Online solicitation is when you intentionally or willfully utilize the internet, local bulletin board, chat room, e-mail, instant messaging service, or any other electronic device, to solicit, seduce, lure, or entice a child, another person believed by such person to be a child, any person having custody or control of a child, or another person believed by such person to have custody or control of a child to commit any illegal act, by, with, or against a child as described in O.C.G.A. 16-6-3, sodomy or aggravated sodomy; O.C.G.A. 16-6-4, child molestation or aggravated child molestation; O.C.G.A. 16-6-5, enticing a child for indecent purposes; or O.C.G.A 16-6-8 public indecency, or to engage in any conduct that by its nature is an unlawful sexual offense against a child.

So, if you are talking to someone that you believe is underage and it turns out that you are actually speaking to law enforcement, you can still be charged and convicted of online solicitation. Do not think that just because the person you were chatting with turned out to not be a child, then you have nothing to worry about. It is still against the law, even if the child turns out to be law enforcement.

Direct communication with a minor is not required for a conviction. There is no requirement that you actually perform any type of sexual act to be convicted. All that is required is that you believed that the person you were speaking to was underage and your purpose in talking to them was for a sexual act.

If you have been charged with online solicitation and exploitation, child pornography and/or human trafficking, then it is very important to hire a lawyer who handles these types of cases. Please call my office 24/7 at 404-581-0999. We will meet with you for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and explain the procedure that will take place in court.

 

by Mike Jacobs

Child Abuse Registry in Georgia

If you are charged with a crime involving child abuse or sexual abuse of a child then you will likely be receiving notice of your inclusion on the Child Protective Services Information System (Child Abuse Registry).

It is important that you contact an attorney immediately upon receiving this notice. You only have 10 days to challenge your name being on the Child Abuse Registry. If you respond within 10 days by requesting a hearing challenging your name being on the Child Abuse Registry then you will receive a court date. This written request must contain your current address and telephone number so that you may be notified of the date of your hearing.

This court date is in front of an Administrative Law Judge. At this hearing, you may present evidence as to why you do not think your name should be included on the Child Abuse Registry.When a DFACS office receives a report that you are alleged to have committed child abuse or sexual abuse of a child, then your name will be entered on the Child Abuse Registry.

Child Abuse means:

Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by ot

her than accidental means, and this shall be deemed to be physical abuse for purposes of the classification required by paragraph (4) of subsection (b) of Code Section 49-5-183; provided, however, physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child; Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker thereof if said neglect or exploitation consists of a lack of supervision, abandonment, or intentional or unintentional disregard by a parent or caretaker of a child’s basic needs for food, shelter, medical care, or education as evidenced by repeated incidents or a single incident which places the child at substantial risk of harm, and this shall be deemed to be child neglect for purposes of the classification required by paragraph (4) of subsection (b) of Code Section 49-5-183

 

Sexual Abuse of a Child means:

Sexual abuse” means a person’s employing, using, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing any minor who is not that person’s spouse to engage in any act which involves:

(A) Sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;

(B) Bestiality;

(C) Masturbation;

(D) Lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;

(E) Flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude;

(F) Condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of a person who is nude;

(G) Physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification with any person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, or buttocks or with a female’s clothed or unclothed breasts;

(H) Defecation or urination for the purpose of sexual stimulation;

(I) Penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object except when done as part of a recognized medical procedure; or

This law was established on July 1, 2016 and is listed under O.C.G.A. 49-5-182.

If you face charges of either sexual abuse or child abuse, then it is imperative that you speak to a qualified attorney immediately. Do not speak to anyone about the allegations except with your attorney. You are facing criminal charges in Superior Court and a hearing on your inclusion with the Child Protective Services Information System (Child Abuse Registry) in front of the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

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.

 

by Mike Jacobs

 

Public Indecency Crimes in Georgia

by Mike Jacobs

Public Indecency is a serious crime in Georgia. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you have been charged with public indecency.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-8(a) defines public indecency as follows:

A person commits the offense of public indecency when he or she performs any of the following acts in a public place:

  1. An act of sexual intercourse
  2. A lewd exposure of the sexual organs
  3. A lewd exposure in a state of partial or complete nudity; or
  4. A lewd caress or indecent fondling of the body of another person.

A public place means any place where the conduct involved may be reasonably be expected to be viewed by people other than members of the accused’s family or household.

Under O.C.G.A. 16-1-3(15), a public place is any place where the conduct involved may reasonably be expected to be viewed by someone other than immediately family members. In fact, the residence of the accused may be considered a public place if the person performs the lewd act in front of a window or someplace where he intends the public to see it.

Lewd has been defined as any gross indecency so notorious as to tend to corrupt community morals. The act is one in which it represents a moving away from some form of community morality norms towards amorality, immorality or obscenity which in the final analysis within community standards as to particular acts, as to acceptability or unacceptability, is best left to a jury for determination. The statute does not require that some person be embarrassed, offended or otherwise outraged by the lewd act.

The intent of the accused is relevant in a prosecution for public indecency.

The offense of public indecency is not a crime against the person. The person viewing the lewd act is a witness and not a victim of the crime.

The United States Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression does not prevent the State of Georgia from enforcing its public indecency laws.

The punishment for public indecency is up to 1 year in prison. If it is a 3rd or subsequent violation, then the punishment is 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Also, the accused may be required to register as a sex offender under O.C.G.A. §42-1-12.

It is imperative that you do not talk to the police if you are accused of public indecency. Only speak to a qualified attorney so that you can properly defend yourself.

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.