Super Speeder- DeKalb

If you are driving 85 MPH or more on any road or highway OR driving 75mph or more on any two-lane road or highway in Georgia, you are deemed to be a ‘super speeder.’ What does that mean? It means that in addition to the local fines and fees you pay to resolve your ticket you will also have to pay an additional $200 super speeder fee to DDS. You have 90 days from the date of conviction (i.e paying ticket or entering a plea) to submit the payment to DDS. If you fail to pay the $200 fee within 90 days your license will be suspended.  If you or someone you know has been arrested with a super speeder ticket, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

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

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

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

This bill states that:

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

Sentencing:

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

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

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

Contact Us

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

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

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

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

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a charge with a warrant, and they have not been brought before a judge, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

I was arrested without a warrant, and they did not bring me to court, what do I do?

If you have been arrested, booked into the County Jail, and there is no warrant, you must be brought before a Judge within 48 hours. If you are not brought before a judge within 48 hours, you must be released from custody.

Under O.C.G.A. § 17-4-62, it requires the arresting person (typically the police officer) to “without delay, convey the offender before the most convenient judicial officer authorized to receive an affidavit and issue a warrant as provided for in Code Section 17-4-40.” Further, “[n]o such imprisonment shall be legal beyond a reasonable time allowed for this purpose; and any person who is not brought before such judicial officer within 48 hours of arrest shall be released.” Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S.  44, 57 (1991).

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a charge without a warrant, and they have not been brought before a judge, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

What is an arraignment and what happens after?

If you have been charged with a crime in Georgia, you will likely receive a court date in the mail, informing you that your case has been scheduled for an arraignment. An arraignment is an opportunity to have your charges read aloud in open Court, and for you to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo. If your case is in Dekalb, Cobb, Fulton, Douglas, Clayton, or another State Court, then you are able to waive this arraignment by filing a waiver of arraignment with the Court. Many attorneys typically waive arraignment on behalf of their clients as a matter of course. This is because State Court arraignments are typically formalities, and not really necessary if you have retained an attorney (you are pleading not guilty! That’s why you hired an attorney!).

If your case is located in Municipal Court, your court dates will likely all say “arraignment.” This is because many Municipal Courts hold arraignment calendars every day. Arraignment in Municipal Court, unlike in State Courts, cannot be waived, even if it is your first court date. If this is the case, you must be present at your first court date.

Some time after your arraignment date, if you or your attorney has filed a motion requesting discovery, the Prosecutor will send discovery. Discovery is the evidence that the prosecutor has which they plan on using in your case. If it has been several weeks since your arraignment and you have not received discovery after you have requested it, you should reach out to an attorney or to the Court to tell them that you have not received it.

The criminal legal process can be confusing and scary. You are not alone. We have an experienced team of attorneys who can guide you through the process from arraignment through trial. Reach out to our office today for a free consultation. Call us at 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds.

Georgia Immunity Motions in Domestic Violence Cases

If a person is charged in the State of Georgia with Domestic Violence, that person has the right to claim self-defense. Not only can the person claim self-defense at trial, but the person also has the right to file what is called an immunity motion under O.C.G.A. § 16-3-24.2.

This is a legal motion made pre-trial, whereby a person can assert that their self-defense claim is so strong that the Court cannot allow the prosecutor to continue with the case. Once the motion is filed, the Court must hear and rule on the motion prior to trial.

In an immunity motion the burden is on the defense to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that they should win on the self-defense theory. Once the defense has raised the self-defense claim, the State then has the burden of disproving the claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge will hear testimony, consider evidence, and make a ruling. Two outcomes can occur:

  1. If the Court finds that the defense presented sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and persuaded the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will grant the motion and dismiss the case.
  2. If the Court finds that the defense did not present sufficient evidence at the pretrial hearing and did not persuade the Court that they were acting in self-defense — the Court will deny the motion and the case will proceed to trial.

The advantage to filing this type of motion is that it can protect a person who is charged with domestic violence from the risk of uncertainty of going to trial. If the motion is not successful, the person charged, still has every right to fight the charges at trial. These motions can be very beneficial, in the right case, for the person charged with domestic violence.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a domestic violence charge, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Georgia Criminal Law – Family Violence Battery in Henry County

A conviction for Family Violence Battery in Georgia can have consequences that go far beyond a conviction for other misdemeanors.   For some clients, this is their first interaction with law enforcement and their concerns include: jail time, a permanent mark on their criminal history , and the possibility of trial.   All of these concerns are very real when facing Family Violence Battery charges. This is especially true when charged with Family Violence Battery in Henry County. This jurisdiction has specifically allocated money and resources in aggressively prosecuting domestic violence charges.  This article aims to explain the nature of the offense, punishments, and how these cases are handled within Henry County.

 

The Offense

 

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-5-23.1 defines domestic violence (named “battery – family violence”) as whenever a battery, an intentional physical harm or visible bodily harm, is committed against “past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.”

 

Therefore, in order to be charged with Family Violence Battery, the alleged victim must be within a certain relationship of the defendant:

 

  • A spouse
  • Persons who are parents of the same child
  • Children
  • Step-Children
  • Foster Children
  • Other persons living in the same household (roommates)

 

Punishment

 

A first conviction for Family Violence Battery is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine.  A second or subsequent conviction with the same family member (as classified above) or another family member results in a felony conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1

 

While a first lifetime conviction of Family Violence Battery appears to be just a misdemeanor, there are several collateral consequences unknown to most people.  For example, because Georgia’s classification of Family Violence Battery falls within the Federal definition of “domestic violence,” a Georgia citizen who is convicted of Family Violence Battery is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Federal Law.

 

Furthermore, while the maximum penalty includes 12 months in custody and a $1,000 fine, many judges throughout the State will also require individuals convicted of Family Violence Battery to serve time on probation (in lieu of jail time), but with the conditions of completing a domestic violence program.  These programs go by several different names (usually Domestic Violence Intervention Program – DVIP), but they generally include 24 weeks of classes, counseling, and program fees that are not included in the fine ordered by the judge.  In addition, judges can add community service, counseling requirements, fines, and alcohol and drug evaluations.  It is important to know that your attorney can negotiate all of these things.

 

How it Works in Henry

 

The first step after arrest is getting a bond. If charged with misdemeanor Family Violence Battery, the law provides you shall be given a bond (in all misdemeanor cases).  But, in addition to having to pay bail money to bond out, the judge will also typically impose a No Contact provision as a condition of your pre-trial release. For example, in a case where a husband is accused of battering his wife, and the couple have minor children who live with them, a judge will usually order the defendant to have No Contact with the wife (alleged victim), the children, and be prevented from returning to the shared home. This No Contact provision places a great burden and strain on the accused as a violation of this bond condition (any form of contact, direct or indirect) can land the accused person in custody until the case is resolved. Therefore, the accused has to find alternative living arrangements and be estranged from their family.

 

As a result, our office routinely files a Motion to Modify Bond Conditions to change the No Contact provision to No Violent or Harassing Contact. This will allow the accused to return home and have contact with the alleged victim and anyone else protected under the bond order; allowing the accused to return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle.

 

After arrest, a case file is created with the Henry County Solicitor General’s Office. They are responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor cases within Henry 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. An experienced attorney should periodically check to see whether the case has been accused prior to arraignment.

 

It is possible to resolve a Family Violence Battery 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 Henry County Domestic Violence Pre-Trial Intervention Program. If the accused successfully completes the DVPTI 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 DVPTI, 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, Henry County prosecutors are largely unwilling to outright dismiss Family Violence Battery charges. Therefore, defendants are typically confronted with deciding whether to take a no jail time plea deal to Family Violence Battery or proceed to trial.

 

Henry County State Court prosecutors will often include multiple counts of Battery, Simple Battery, and Family Violence Battery within the accusation.  Unfortunately, many people go to court on their first court date, without exploring the consequences of a Family Violence Battery conviction, and enter a plea.  Whether the person committed the acts alleged or they simply just want to put this chapter of their life behind them, even though they’re innocent, it’s vital to consult with an attorney.  At the very least, an attorney can discuss the implications of being convicted of Family Violence Battery.

 

Contact Us

 

Being charged with Family Violence Battery 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 Family Violence Battery 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 Family Violence Battery, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

 

Henry County Georgia DUI Attorney

            If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Henry County, you may be wondering what will happen next. Upon being arrested for DUI in Henry County (or given a citation if incident occurred during COVID-19), the first matter to focus on is your ability to continue driving. Within 30 days of your arrest, certain decisions must be made in order to preserve your right to drive during the pendency of your DUI case. You will need to either submit what is known as an Administrative License Appeal (“30 day letter”) or opt for an Ignition Interlock Permit. Several factors, including whether or not there was a chemical test taken, go into the decision of which route to go. An experienced DUI defense attorney will guide you to make the best decision for your individual circumstance.

            Your case will begin in either Henry County State Court, or one of the local Municipal Courts (Stockbridge, McDonough, Hampton, or Locust Grove). The first court date that occurs in a Henry County DUI case is your Arraignment date. At your arraignment, you will be given the option to enter a Not Guilty plea to the charges. It is imperative you have a DUI Defense Attorney at this stage as the Arraignment date triggers certain deadlines. Under Georgia law, a Motion to Suppress must be filed within 10 days of Arraignment. This means that in order to preserve arguments of suppressing blood, breath, or urine tests, or incriminating statements made to law enforcement, that a Motion to Suppress must be filed, or the ability to argue it later is waived.

            Following the Arraignment will come the Discovery process where the State will serve its evidence including any police reports, body cam and dash cam footage, and results of any chemical test. The Defense will be doing its own investigation and analysis in the case in preparation for a Motions hearing, Pretrial Negotiations, and Trial. The Law Office of W. Scott Smith will appear at all hearings to protect your rights and defend you. We fight for you and come up with a comprehensive strategy to accomplish your goals in your DUI case in Henry County.

If you or a loved one is facing a Henry County DUI, do not go through it alone. Jail time, license suspension, and lengthy probation sentences are all at stake in a DUI case. A guilty conviction lasts forever in the State of Georgia, and can never be expunged.

Attorney W. Scott Smith is the Founder and Principal of the W. Scott Smith P.C. law firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott has been recognized as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the State and he and his firm are leaders in DUI and Drug related cases. The lawyers of W. Scott Smith routinely are invited to speak to other lawyers on DUI-related topics and have handled hundreds of Henry County DUI cases. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.