Driving while License Suspended or Revoked in Georgia

In Georgia, if a person is driving on a suspended license, he/she may face jail time, probation, as well as monetary fines. If the accused is found guilty of driving while his/her license is suspended, the accused will be charged with a misdemeanor, as long as it is his/her first offense within the last 5 years.

According to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121, any person who drives a motor vehicle on any public highway of this state without being licensed or while his/her privilege to drive in the State of Georgia is suspended, disqualified, or revoked may be found guilty of the offense of driving while license is suspended. Under Georgia law, there are numerous violations that can lead to a driver’s license being suspended or revoked. Some include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Conviction of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI);
  • After a DUI arrest, failure to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test following the reading of Georgia’s implied consent law;
  • Conviction of driving without insurance;
  • Conviction of vehicular homicide;
  • Failure to pay Georgia’s Super Speeder fine within its required deadline; OR
  • For accumulating 15 traffic points within a 24-month period.

Penalties

As stated above, the offense of driving while license is suspended/ revoked will be characterized as a misdemeanor if it is the driver’s first offense within the previous 5-year period. If the accused is convicted of a misdemeanor, he/she may be sentenced anywhere between 2 days and 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $500-$1,000. However, if the accused has had a prior conviction or two prior convictions, within the last 5 years, for driving while license is suspended, he/she may be charged with a “high and aggravated misdemeanor.” This means that the sentence may involve anywhere between 10 days and 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000-$2,500. Finally, if the accused has had four or more convictions of driving while license is suspended within the last 5 years, the charge will be classified as a felony. A person convicted of a felony may be sentenced to 1-5 years in prison with a fine of $2,500-$5,000.

Upon receiving the accused person’s record of conviction for driving while license is suspended, the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services will impose an additional suspension or disqualification of 6 months. Once the additional 6 months has expired, the driver is eligible to reinstate his/her driver’s license.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the penalties for driving on a suspended license, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable of all possible options for an accused dealing with such serious allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we are skilled at defending such charges. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for driving while license is suspended, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Driving without a License or with a Suspended License in Georgia

Georgia, like most states, makes it a crime to drive a vehicle without a license or with a suspended license. This blog article will discuss the laws surrounding this type of offense and the possible punishment if convicted.

Driving Without a License

As you might expect, every person driving a motor vehicle on a road or highway must have, and display upon request, a valid driver’s license. There are two laws dealing with not being in possession of a valid license.

No License on Person: O.C.G.A. § 40-5-29 requires drivers in Georgia to carry their license in their immediate possession while driving. A driver must also produce a copy of their license at the request of a law enforcement officer. Failure to do so may result in a misdemeanor conviction where the maximum penalty is 12 months in jail and up to $1,000 fine. If the driver can later produce a valid license that was valid at the time of arrest or citation, the maximum fine is $10.

Driving Without a Valid License: O.C.G.A. § 40-5-20 prohibits and punishes unlicensed driving. This offense is more serious than the above No License on Person, but is still charged as a misdemeanor.

Driving With a Suspended License

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121 prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle on a suspended, disqualified, or revoked license. If convicted, the person can expect to face a fine, jail time, probation, and a license suspension. The license suspension would be added to the time left remaining on the current suspension. The below table describes penalties for repeat offenses:

  Jail Fine License Suspension
1st Offense 2 days – 12 months $500-$1,000 6 months
2nd Offense 10 days – 12 months $1,000 – $2,000 6 months
3rd Offense 10 days – 12 months $1,000 – $2,000 6 months
4th Offense (Felony) 1 – 5 years prison $2,500 – $5,000 6 months – lifetime

 

Contact Us

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

 

 

 

 

Felony Murder in Georgia

In Georgia a person will be convicted of felony murder in this State “when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.”  In determining whether a felony meets that definition, the Court will tell the jury to consider the circumstances under which the felony was committed.  Further, there must be some connection between the felony and the homicide.

 

Here is a breakdown of the felony murder statute and the elements the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

 

  1. In the commission of a felony

 

The homicide must have been done in carrying out the unlawful act and not collateral (accompanying but secondary) to it. It is not enough that the homicide occurred before or after the felony was attempted or committed.

 

The only limitation on the type of felony that may serve as an underlying felony for a felony murder conviction is that the felony must be inherently dangerous to human life.

 

For a felony to be considered inherently dangerous, it must be “dangerous per se” or it must “by its circumstances create a foreseeable risk of death.”

 

The reason for the felony murder rule is to furnish an added deterrent to the perpetration of felonies, which create a foreseeable risk of death. This function is not served by application of the rule to felonies not foreseeably dangerous.

 

Some common crimes that qualify for felony murder include:

 

  • Aggravated assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Firearms offenses; in some cases possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
  • Kidnapping
  • Narcotics offenses or VGCSA – including sale of drugs
  • Party to a crime
  • Sexual assault

 

 

  1. Causes the death of another person.

 

The person charged must directly cause the death of the victim to be convicted of felony murder.  For example, a defendant may be convicted of felony murder based on the underlying felony of distributing a controlled substance if the defendant directly causes the death of the victim while in the commission of the felony.

 

  1. You do not need malice.  

 

There are two types of Malice.  A specific intent to kill is “express malice,” whereas an intent to commit acts with such a reckless disregard for human life as to show an abandoned and malignant heart amounts to “implied malice.”

Malice is where the actor acted deliberately knowing his conduct was dangerous or reckless and he was not concerned as to whether anyone was harmed or not.  So what is less than malice?   Can the action be as low as gross negligence or even less than negligence?

Georgia Criminal Law – Perjury

Perjury is a serious offense that causes immeasurable harm to the functioning and integrity of our legal system and to private individuals. As such, a conviction of perjury can have serious consequences on the accused. This article aims to explore the nature of perjury, possible punishment, and available defenses.

The Offense

O.C.G.A. § 16-10-70 provides, “a person to whom a lawful oath or affirmation has been administered commits the offense of perjury when, in a judicial proceeding, he knowingly and willfully makes a false statement material to the issue or point in question.”

Thus, the essential elements of perjury are: (1) knowingly and willfully making a false statement, (2) material to the issue or point in question, (3) while under oath in a judicial proceeding. Sneiderman v. State, 336 Ga.App. 153 (2016). Perjury is different from the offense of “false swearing” in that perjury requires both the intent to testify falsely and the act of false testimony, as opposed to swearing rashly or inconsiderately, according to belief (false swearing). Gates v. State, 252 Ga.App. 20 (2001).

The test of “materiality” is whether false testimony is capable of influencing tribunal on issue before it. U. S. v. Cosby, 601 F.2d 754 (1979).

Possible Punishment

A person convicted of perjury can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for between one and ten years, or both. If the person convicted of perjury was the cause of another person being imprisoned will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment no greater than the sentence for which the other person was convicted. Further, if a person convicted of perjury was a cause of another person being punished by death, the perjurer shall be punished by life imprisonment.

Defenses

  • Defendant was not under oath at the time the statement was made.
  • The false statements were not “material.”
  • The false statements were not knowingly or willfully made.
  • Defendant’s belief that his testimony was truthful constitutes absolute defense to charge of perjury regardless of whether the testimony is actually false. Richards v. State, 131 Ga.App. 362 (1974).

Contact Us

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

Identification of Suspects in Georgia Criminal Law

Under Georgia law, the testimony of a single witness is sufficient to sustain a conviction (assuming the jury believes that witness). But, prosecutions based entirely or primarily on the testimony of a single eyewitness are said to be the most common cause of wrongful convictions.

This article will discuss the different types of identification procedures, factors that influence the precision of eyewitness identifications, case law dictating how and when a judge should filter out inherently suggestive procedures, and constitutional considerations regarding suppression of unduly suggestive identifications.

Types of Identification Techniques

O.C.G.A. § 17-20-2 provides that any law enforcement agency that conducts lineups shall adopt written policies for using such lineups.

Live Lineups

A live lineup consists of a row of 6 people, including the suspect. The witness is then asked to identify the suspect. Typically, these live lineups are done at the jail and inmates are used to fill the lineup. Someone who does not know the identity of the suspect conducts the lineup. The administrator is supposed to instruct the witness the perpetrator may or may not be present in the lineup. The lineup should be composed so the fillers generally resemble the witness’ description of the suspect. The lineup is to consists of at least four fillers. The administrator is supposed to document the witness’ statement as to their confidence level in their identification.

A suspect in custody may be forced to participate in a lineup because showing one’s physical characteristics is not considered “testimonial” for 5th Amendment purposes. U.S. v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1967). If an in-custody suspect refuses to participate, the prosecutor may comment upon this refusal at a later trial. If a suspect is not in custody, court intervention may be required (upon proof of reasonable and articulable suspicion or probable cause). Importantly, an in custody suspect does NOT have the right to the presence of counsel at a lineup as these procedures occur prior to the formal initiation of charges. Kirby v. Illinois, 406 U.S. 682 (1972).

Show-ups

A show-up is any identification procedure that provides the eyewitness with only one choice. Although a show-up identification is inherently suggestive, it is not necessarily inadmissible. So long as a show-up is reasonably and fairly conducted at or near the time of offense, it will not be deemed impermissibly suggestive. Wallace v. State, 295 Ga. App. 452 (2009). A timely show-up aids in a speedy police investigation, especially in an emergency situation.

Photo Lineups

Also called “photo arrays,” these lineups consist of 6 photographs (including the suspect’s) displayed together to the witness and are conducted prior to the arrest of the suspect. After all, if the suspect is in custody a live lineup is preferred. Some law enforcement agencies present the photos to witnesses one at a time as an added layer of protection to the suspect so the witness will not just choose the photo most resembling the suspect. In a photo lineup the administrator is not supposed to know who the suspect, or, if they do know, use photos placed in folders which are randomly shuffled so the administrator doesn’t know who the witness is looking at until the procedure is complete. The administratior should tell the witness the suspect may or may not be in the photo lineup, use a minimum of five fillers, use fillers resembling generally the witness’ description of the suspect, and document statement of witness’s confidence in identification.

Again, suspects do not have the right to presence of counsel during a photo lineup because the preservation and documentation of the photo lineup is sufficient to protect suspect’s right to challenge the procedure.

In-Court Identification

At trial, an eyewitness is typically asked to identify the defendant in the courtroom (where they are sitting and what article of clothing they are wearing). A prosecutor is not allowed to ask a witness whether anyone in the courtroom resembles the perpetrator because this causes the witness to search for similarities.

Factors Affecting Accuracy of Identification

Identifications can be influenced by “estimator” and “system” variables. Estimator variables relate to the person making the identification: witnesses perceptive abilities, memory, and environmental factors. System variables include: method of ID (live lineup, photo array, show-up), how identification procedure was administered.

Constitutional Limitations

A pre-trial identification procedure will be suppress on Due Process grounds if such procedure:

  • Is deemed to have been “impermissibly suggestive,” and
  • Posed a “very substantial likelihood of misidentification.”

Carr v. State, 289 Ga. App. 875 (2008). An identification procedure is impermissibly suggestive if it would lead an eyewitness to an all but inevitable identification of the suspect. Russell v. State, 288 Ga. 372 (2007). In determining whther a “very substantial likelihood of misidentification” is present courts look to factors articulated in Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188 (1972).

  • Opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime
  • The witness’ degree to attention
  • The accuracy of the witness’ prior description of the accused
  • The level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the time of confrontation
  • The length of time between crime and confrontation

Both the eyewitness’ pre-trial identification and in-court identification are admissible unless the defendant shows the identification fails to satisfy both prongs of the due process test.

Contact Us

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

Georgia’s New Second Chance Law – Misdemeanor Record Restriction (Expungement)

By: Mary Agramonte

A new expungement law is on the way, which will come as great news to the millions of Georgians who have a criminal history. Governor Kemp recently signed SB 288 into law after state leaders unanimously approved the bill. Georgia’s new “Second Chance Law” will become effective on January 1, 2021 providing Georgians with an opportunity to expunge certain misdemeanor cases, both a victory and a first in Georgia.

Georgia historically has not had favorable expungement laws on the books. Under current Georgia law, criminal convictions stay on a person’s record forever. Convictions never ‘age off’ no matter the time that has elapsed, or the strides made for rehabilitation. This places a staggering number of Georgians at a disadvantage for employment, housing, higher education, and other opportunities.

Georgia’s current law disallowing expungement has been troublesome for the hundreds of thousands of people who get caught up in our justice system each year. In fact, Georgia leads the nation, by far, in placing people on probation following conviction.  The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 433,200 people in Georgia were on probation at the end of 2018. According to Second Chance for Georgia https://www.secondchancegeorgia.org/ , 4.3 million people have a criminal record in Georgia. This means that an astounding 40% of Georgia’s adult population carry a criminal history through life, resulting in more than 1/3 of the State’s population having barriers to advancement in careers and other opportunities.

This new change in Georgia law will allow individuals to petition the court to have certain misdemeanor convictions restricted and sealed off their record after living a crime free life for four years. This is a process sometimes referred to as “expungement,” but is called “record restriction” in Georgia.  So long as a person has completed the terms of their sentence and has had no new convictions for at least four years, then SB 288 allows the individual to petition the Court to restrict the misdemeanor off their record.

Upon petition and a request for a hearing, the Court will conduct a balancing test to determine whether to restrict the misdemeanors off the criminal history. The hearing must take place within 90 days of the request. Under the new SB 288 law, the Court must grant the petition to restrict the criminal history records if it determines that the harm resulting to the individual clearly outweighs the public’s interest in the criminal history being publicly available. Factors such as the nature of crime, the loss of career opportunities, time elapsed since conviction, and proven rehabilitation will all become relevant inquiries for the Court.

Under SB 288, certain crimes will continue to be ineligible for record restriction in Georgia. This means that the following crimes cannot be expunged following a conviction:

  • Family Violence Assault and Battery
  • Family Violence Stalking
  • Hindering 911 call
  • Child Molestation or Enticing a child for indecent purposes
  • Public indecency
  • Pimping and pandering
  • Sexual Battery
  • Theft by Taking, Theft by Deception, Theft by Conversion
  • Serious Traffic Offenses (Reckless Driving, DUI, Homicide by Vehicle, Serious Injury by Vehicle, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude, and Aggressive Driving)

Crimes that will be eligible under the new law for potential record restriction include but are not limited to:

  • Possession of Marijuana
  • Possession of Drug Related Objects
  • Shoplifting
  • Non-Domestic Battery and Assault
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol
  • Giving False Name, False Report, or False Statement
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Loitering
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Driving with a Suspended License

 

Some felonies are included in this expansion as well. For example, if someone has been convicted of a felony charge, but were issued a pardon, they too can petition a Judge to restrict and seal the charge off their record under the new law.

Who is eligible to petition the court for record restriction or expungement?

Anyone who was convicted of a misdemeanor crime, (other than the crimes explicitly exempt under the statute), and have had no new convictions in the past four years.

How many cases can I ask to be restricted?

Individuals will be allowed to petition the court for record restriction on two misdemeanor cases (a case can include multiple misdemeanor offenses under one accusation).

What happens if the Judge denies the request for record restriction?

You can request the record restriction again after waiting two years from the Judge’s denial.

How do I obtain record restriction under SB 288?

The new law requires you file a motion into the court you were convicted requesting the misdemeanor be restricted and expunged. A court order is required in order for your criminal history to be expunged under the new law.

Keep in mind that record restriction is not limited to misdemeanor convictions discussed in this blog under the new SB288 law and can be, at times, automatic. For example, if you were arrested after July 1, 2013, and the case against you was dismissed, or you were fully acquitted at trial, the charge will be automatically restricted when the clerk enters that disposition into the GCIC system. Arrests prior to July 1, 2013 that resulted in dismissal require a request and separate process for restrictions, but are eligible.

The best way to know what is on your criminal history is to request a copy of your GCIC under Purpose Code “E” from a local police department or sheriff’s office.  If you or a loved one is one of the millions of people carrying a criminal history through life in Georgia, the Second Chance law may come as a reprieve. The attorneys at W. Scott Smith are versed on all aspects of Georgia’s expungement and record restriction laws and are available for a FREE CONSULTATION by calling 404-581-0999.

Theft by Shoplifting in DeKalb County, Georgia

A shoplifting conviction is no small matter. It will negatively impact your ability to gain employment, apply for housing, and it will permanently remain on your criminal record. It is critical you contact an experienced attorney to investigate the facts, prepare legal challenges and defenses, and mitigate possible punishment. Our firm routinely handles shoplifting cases in DeKalb County State Court. This article means to explain the nature of shoplifting under Georgia law, the possible punishment, and how these matters are specifically handled in DeKalb County.

 

The Offense

 

Under O.C.G.A § 16-8-14, the offense of theft by shoplifting occurs when a person has the intent to either appropriate merchandise without paying for it or deprive the owner of possession of the merchandise or of its value AND:

 

  • Takes possession of or conceals the goods or merchandise of a store or retail establishment;
  • Alters the price marked on the goods or merchandise of a store or retail establishment;
  • Transfers the goods or merchandise of a store or retail establishment from its original box or container to another one;
  • Switches the price tag or label from one merchandise item with the price tag or label from another merchandise item; or
  • Wrongfully causes the amount paid for an item to be less than the merchant’s state price for the item

 

Arrest, formal criminal charges, and aggressive prosecution are all possibilities if you engage in the above conduct.

 

Punishment

 

The penalties for shoplifting in DeKalb County depend on the “value” of the property taken. A first shoplifting conviction involving the theft of merchandise valued at $500 or less is a misdemeanor. This is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and incarceration for up to 12 months in jail, or both. Shoplifting offenses involving the theft of merchandise worth more than $500 are deemed felonies and can be punished by imprisonment for as long as ten years, depending on the total value of merchandise stolen.

 

It is important to note that a fourth or subsequent conviction for shoplifting is punished as a felony even though the prior convictions were all for misdemeanor shoplifting. Fourth or subsequent convictions are punishable by a prison sentence of one to ten years.

 

 

In addition to jail time and a fine, punishment may also include a psychological evaluation and treatment at their own expense, shoplifting seminars, community service, and restitution for the value of the property taken (if not returned).

 

How it Works in DeKalb

 

After arrest, a case file is created with the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within DeKalb County. At first, the case will be “unaccused.” This simply means that no accusation has yet been filed on the case. An accusation is the official charging document for misdemeanors in Georgia. It is intended to provide notice to the accused of the charges, the dates of the offense, and information sufficient to place the defendant on notice of how to defend the case.

 

It is possible to resolve a theft by shoplifting charge prior to the filing of an accusation. Attorneys should contact the Solicitor General’s Office to see if they are eligible to be admitted into the DeKalb County Pre-Trial Diversion Program. If the accused successfully completes the diversion program, their charges will be dismissed with their records restricted.

 

Once a prosecutor reviews the file and believes there is at least probable cause to proceed upon, the accusation is filed and the case is formally “accused.” If accused and not eligible for diversion, the accused must begin preparing their case for a possible trial, subject to reaching a plea negotiation with the prosecutor. This includes investigating the case and gathering evidence. In our experience, DeKalb County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss shoplifting charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to shoplifting or proceed to trial.

 

Contact Us

 

Being charged with Theft By Shoplifting can be a stressful event in anyone’s life.  At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to explore the legal issues with every shoplifting case.  We are aware of all the possible options available to avoid jail time and to protect your criminal history and ultimately your privacy.   If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

Armed Robbery in DeKalb County, Georgia

            Armed Robbery occurs when someone takes property from someone by use of a weapon, device, or a replica weapon. It is treated seriously under Georgia law in that it is a “capital felony.” A capital felony is a crime that is punishable by life or death in the State of Georgia. This blog lays out the criminal justice process for someone who has been arrested for Armed Robbery in DeKalb County.

            The first thing that happens after someone is arrested for Armed Robbery in DeKalb County is that they will see judge in their First Appearance hearing. This typically occurs within 48-72 hours of the person being arrested, depending on whether or not there was an arrest warrant. The First Appearance occurs at the DeKalb County Jail at 4424 Memorial Drive in Decatur. At the First Appearance hearing, a DeKalb County Magistrate Judge will read the charges to the suspect, as well as inform them of their right to counsel and right to remain silent. In some types of cases, bond can be considered at a First Appearances hearing. However, in Armed Robbery cases, the procedure is different. This is because only Superior Court Judges can hear bond arguments for the crime of Armed Robbery. This means unless the First Appearance Judge is “sitting in designation” then a bond will not be set or considered at the onset of arrest at the initial hearing.

Following the arrest and First Appearance hearing in Armed Robbery case in DeKalb County, an attorney will need to file a request for a Probable Cause and Bond hearing. This hearing will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to even prosecute you for Armed Robbery. If there is not, the charges can get thrown out at this stage. If the Judge does find probable cause that an Armed Robbery had occurred and you were the person who did it, or was a party to it, then the Judge “binds the case over to Superior Court” since that is the court with jurisdiction to proceed over the case. Once in the DeKalb County Superior Court, the Judge can consider whether or not to release the person on bond.

The court may release a person on bond if the court finds that the person:

(1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;

(2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;

(3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and

(4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

These are known as the Ayala factors in Georgia based after the case that laid out our standards in bond determination. Ayala v. State, 262 Ga. 704 (1993).

If a bond is granted, there may be certain conditions attached. For example, the Judge may order you to have a curfew, or stay away from the alleged victim in this case.

The Armed Robbery case will then proceed with an Indictment, and later an Arraignment court date where a Not Guilty plea is entered and Motions are filed. Throughout the case, your defense attorney will engage in Plea Negotiations with prosecutors from the DeKalb County District Attorney Office. During this process, the defense attorney will do intensive investigation to the facts and defenses of the case and represent client’s interests zealously.

There are several defenses to Armed Robbery cases in DeKalb County and throughout the State. First, if you were only present at the time it occurred, and you did not share the same criminal mentality of the co-defendants, then you cannot be guilty of Armed Robbery.  Simply being there when an armed robbery occurs is not a crime. The State still has to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

You can be charged with Armed Robbery as being a Party to a crime law in Georgia means that you can be convicted and sentenced as if you directly committed the crime- even if you did not directly commit the crime.  You can be charged with Party to a Crime to Armed Robbery if you:

1. Commit the crime

2. Intentionally aid or abet in the commission of the crime;

3. Intentionally advises, encourages, or counsels another to commit the crime.

This means you can be charged, convicted, and sentenced to Armed Robbery in DeKalb County if the State proves you encouraged the person to commit the crime, or if you provided them with the weapon, whether it be fake or not. All of this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high standard in our Justice system.

Sentencing in Armed Robbery

As previously discussed, the stakes are high in Armed Robbery given a life or death sentence is allowed in Georgia law. Additionally, it has a mandatory minimum sentence of 10-20 years in prison. This is why it is imperative to move quickly in obtaining an Armed Robbery attorney early on to establish defenses and thoroughly investigate the case. The lawyers of W. Scott Smith are available 24/7 to answer you questions via a FREE CONSULTATION on Armed Robbery charges in DeKalb County and throughout the State. 404-581-0999

Armed Robbery in Atlanta/Fulton County, Georgia

By: Mary Agramonte

            Armed Robbery occurs when someone takes property from someone by use of a weapon, device, or a replica weapon. It is treated seriously under Georgia law in that it is a “capital felony.” A capital felony is a crime that is punishable by life or death in the State of Georgia. This blog lays out the criminal justice process for someone who has been arrested for Armed Robbery in Fulton County.

            The first thing that happens after someone is arrested for Armed Robbery in Fulton County is that they will see judge in their First Appearance hearing. This typically occurs within 48-72 hours of the person being arrested, depending on whether or not there was an arrest warrant., and it occurs at the Fulton County Jail at 901 Rice Street in Atlanta. At the First Appearance hearing, a Fulton County Magistrate Judge will read the charges to the suspect, as well as inform them of their right to counsel and right to remain silent. In some types of cases, bond can be considered at a First Appearances hearing. However, in Armed Robbery cases, the procedure is different. This is because only Superior Court Judges can hear bond arguments for the crime of Armed Robbery. This means unless the First Appearance Judge is “sitting in designation” then a bond will not be set or considered at the onset of arrest at the initial hearing.

Following the arrest and First Appearance hearing in Armed Robbery case in Fulton County, an attorney will need to file a request for a Probable Cause and Bond hearing. This hearing will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to even prosecute you for Armed Robbery. If there is not, the charges can get thrown out at this stage. If the Judge does find probable cause that an Armed Robbery had occurred and you were the person who did it, or was a party to it, then the Judge “binds the case over to Superior Court” since that is the court with jurisdiction to proceed over the case. Once in the Fulton County Superior Court, the Judge can consider whether or not to release the person on bond.

The court may release a person on bond if the court finds that the person:

(1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;

(2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;

(3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and

(4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

These are known as the Ayala factors in Georgia based after the case that laid out our standards in bond determination. Ayala v. State, 262 Ga. 704 (1993).

If a bond is granted, there may be certain conditions attached. For example, the Judge may order you to have a curfew, or stay away from the alleged victim in this case.

The Armed Robbery case will then proceed with an Indictment, and later an Arraignment court date where a Not Guilty plea is entered and Motions are filed on. Throughout the case, your defense attorney will engage in Plea Negotiations with prosecutors from the Fulton County District Attorney Office. During this process, the defense attorney will do intensive investigation to the facts and defenses of the case and represent client’s interests zealously.

There are several defenses to Armed Robbery cases in Fulton County and throughout the State. First, if you were only present at the time it occurred, and you did not share the same criminal mentality of the co-defendants, then you cannot be guilty of Armed Robbery.  Simply being there when an armed robbery occurs is not a crime. The State still has to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

You can be charged with Armed Robbery as being a Party to a crime law in Georgia means that you can be convicted and sentenced as if you directly committed the crime- even if you did not directly commit the crime.  You can be charged with Party to a Crime to Armed Robbery if you:

1. Commit the crime

2. Intentionally aid or abet in the commission of the crime;

3. Intentionally advises, encourages, or counsels another to commit the crime.

This means you can be charged, convicted, and sentenced to Armed Robbery in Fulton County if the State proves you encouraged the person to commit the crime, or if you provided them with the weapon, whether it be fake or not. All of this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high standard in our Justice system.

Sentencing in Armed Robbery

As previously discussed, the stakes are high in Armed Robbery given a life or death sentence is allowed in Georgia law. Additionally, it has a mandatory minimum sentence of 10-20 years in prison. This is why it is imperative to move quickly in obtaining an Armed Robbery attorney early on to establish defenses and thoroughly investigate the case. The lawyers of W. Scott Smith are available 24/7 to answer you questions via a FREE CONSULTATION on Armed Robbery charges in Fulton County and throughout the State. 404-581-0999

Yes, Criminal Cases are Still Moving Forward in Georgia during COVID-19

You may have received a traffic citation, or a citation for misdemeanor possession of marijuana or theft by shoplifting. The officer may have released you on citation instead of taking you to a local detention facility for arrest. This doesn’t mean your case should be ignored, or is not a big deal, now. Cases are being heard in most municipal courts in the State. In fact, many municipalities and counties may ask you to come in and provide fingerprints at a later date when conditions are more safe.

In the past week, our firm has been present for shoplifting, DUI, and marijuana cases in Roswell, Marietta, Acworth, Kennesaw, Douglasville, Sandy Springs, Jonesboro, Forest Park, and many other municipal courts across the state.

Having an attorney represent you at this time can prevent you from having to appear and potentially risk your health. An attorney can also work with the prosecutor to try and get you the best possible outcomes during this time, working on lowering fines, reducing community service, and preventing other activities that may put you at risk for coronavirus exposure.

Our office is available right now to discuss your case with you. Call us at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. We understand you may be feeling nervous or scared during these uncertain times, and we are here to help.