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Help! I Failed to Appear in Gwinnett Recorder’s Court!

If you miss court in the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court, you are likely in FTA status. This means that you failed to appear for your court date and it is probable that your driver’s license has been suspended. The tricky thing about FTAs is that you likely don’t even know that you missed court until you are pulled over and an officer tells you that your license is suspended.

The court will not lift your FTA suspension until you deal with the underlying traffic charge. This could mean just paying a fine, but it may also require an in court appearance. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the process quickly and effectively and get you on the road to reinstating your license.

The lawyers at W. Scott Smith are experienced at helping clients resolve FTAs and guiding clients in the best way to resolve the underlying traffic charge. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation on how to move forward, resolve the FTA, and have your driver’s license reinstated.

Theft by Receiving Stolen Property in Fulton County

A person commits the offense of theft by receiving stolen property when s/he receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property which s/he knows or should have known was stolen unless the property is received, disposed of, or retained with the intent to restore it to the owner. “Receiving” means acquiring possession or control or lending on the security of the property.  OCGA § 16-8-7. Guns and cars are the most common property associated with theft by receiving stolen property charges.

In order to sustain a conviction for theft by receiving the state is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused KNEW the property was stolen. That knowledge can be inferred (i.e. should have known) by circumstances that would be suspicious to an ordinary prudent person. For example, if you buy a brand-new Mercedes G Wagon for $5,000 and it turns out to be stolen, a jury is authorized to believe you knew it was stolen. It would be unreasonable to the average person that a brand-new car that normally costs upwards of $200,000 would be sold for $5,000. Now if we are talking about a Nissan Ultima, that $5,000 price cannot show knowledge that it was stolen because the price is reasonable. Certain damage to a vehicle, like a broken steering column or the locks being punched out, can also imply the necessary knowledge. It is much more difficult for the state to prove knowledge of a stolen gun. The Georgia appellate courts have found that purchasing a gun on the street at a reduced price or the gun being labeled “for law enforcement use” is not enough but it can be shown if the serial number has been filed off.

If you or a loved one has been charged with theft by receiving stolen property, give us a call for a free consultation.

Pre-trial Diversion: What Is It?

Pre-trial diversion programs aim to provide individuals with an opportunity to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their involvement in a certain crime. It’s essentially an alternative pathway that allows for charges to be dismissed upon the completion of the program.

 

  • Eligibility: Not everyone is eligible. Pre-trial diversion programs are reserved for people in more minor offense crimes without an extensive criminal history.
  • Participation: If accepted, clients agree to participate in activities that include community service, drug and/or alcohol counseling, and educational programs like anger management classes or victim impact panels.
  • Supervision: Generally, participants are supervised by a case manager. If you are enrolled in a pre-trial diversion program, it is important to keep your case manager updated on any classes you’ve completed, or community service hours completed.
  • Consequences of failure: failure to comply with the program or committing another offense can result in reinstatement of the criminal charge and further prosecution.
  • Benefits: the main benefit of pre-trial diversion is to avoid criminal conviction. If you complete the program, your case and all the charges associated with the case are generally dismissed by the court. The program also provides an opportunity to rehabilitate behavior that could lead to further criminal convictions related to the original, underlying crime.

 

In general, pre-trial diversion programs offer a viable and attractive option for individuals who do not want a case to go to trial but want the charges dismissed by the court.

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.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes in Dekalb County

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in Dekalb County. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of Enticing a child for an indecent act. Many allegations of enticing a child are false. Even if you know the allegation of enticing a child against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5 defines Enticing a Child for indecent purposes as follows:

A person commits the offense of enticing a child for indecent purposes when he or she solicits, entices, or takes any child under the age of 16 years to any place whatsoever for the purpose of child molestation or indecent acts.

The State must prove a joint operation of (1) the act of enticing a child and (2) the intention to commit acts of indecency or child molestation.

Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes is different than Child Molestation because of the extra element of asportation. The asportation element is satisfied with the taking involving physical force, enticement or persuasion. The evidence must show some movement of the child. It can be slight movement.

Indecent Acts means illicit sexual conduct. Because the statute refers to both indecent acts and child molestation, it is reasonable to assume that indecent acts are different than acts punished by the child molestation statute.

Neither consent nor lack of knowledge of the child’s age is a defense to prosecution under the Enticing a Child statute.

The statute is intended to protect children from sexual predators. It is unlawful to entice any child under the age of 16.

The punishment for Enticing A Child is a mandatory of 10 years imprisonment up to 30 years and at least 1 year of probation.

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

Do not wait until the Dekalb County District Attorney actually returns an indictment against you for Enticing a Child before seeking an attorney. It is vital that you immediately retain an attorney and get to work in defending yourself of these allegations.

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.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes in Clayton County

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in Clayton County. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of Enticing a child for an indecent act. Many allegations of enticing a child are false. Even if you know the allegation of enticing a child against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself. The Clayton County District Attorney’s office has a unit dedicated to prosecuting sex crimes.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5 defines Enticing a Child for indecent purposes as follows:

A person commits the offense of enticing a child for indecent purposes when he or she solicits, entices, or takes any child under the age of 16 years to any place whatsoever for the purpose of child molestation or indecent acts.

The Clayton County District Attorney must prove a joint operation of (1) the act of enticing a child and (2) the intention to commit acts of indecency or child molestation.

Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes is different than Child Molestation because of the extra element of asportation. The asportation element is satisfied with the taking involving physical force, enticement or persuasion. The evidence must show some movement of the child. It can be slight movement.

Indecent Acts means illicit sexual conduct. Because the statute refers to both indecent acts and child molestation, it is reasonable to assume that indecent acts are different than acts punished by the child molestation statute.

Neither consent nor lack of knowledge of the child’s age is a defense to prosecution under the Enticing a Child statute.

The statute is intended to protect children from sexual predators. It is unlawful to entice any child under the age of 16.

The punishment for Enticing A Child is a mandatory of 10 years imprisonment up to 30 years and at least 1 year of probation.

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

Do not wait until the Clayton County District Attorney actually returns an indictment against you for Enticing a Child before seeking an attorney. It is vital that you immediately retain an attorney and get to work in defending yourself of these allegations.

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

Statutory Rape in Gwinnett County

Statutory Rape in Gwinnett County is a serious crime in Georgia.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 defines Statutory Rape as engaging in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years old who is not your spouse.

Statutory Rape requires corroboration and cannot stand solely on the unsupported testimony of the victim.

In Georgia, it is not a defense to Statutory Rape that the accused believed the victim was of the age of consent.

Many people have the idea that if they have consensual sex, then they did not break the law. That is not true.  Individuals who commit statutory rape in Gwinnett County can face serious felony charges. In addition to a prison sentence, a person faces being put on the Sex Offender Registry and has limits on housing and job opportunities and loses their right to vote and own a firearm.

To be convicted of Statutory Rape in Gwinnett County, it is not necessary to fully penetrate the vagina or to rupture the hymen. Only slight penetration of the vulva or labia is sufficient. Proof of force is unnecessary for statutory rape.

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

The punishment for Statutory Rape is very serious. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 mandates that the sentence be from 1 to 20 years in prison. If the defendant is 21 years or older, then the mandatory sentence is 10 years up to 20 years in prison with at least one year on probation. If the victim is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old and the person convicted is 18 years old and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then it is a misdemeanor and a maximum of 12 months in custody.

If the defendant is over 21 and convicted of statutory rape, he or she cannot plead under the First Offender Act.

If you face charges in Gwinnett County for Statutory Rape, it is imperative that you do not make any statements to law enforcement or to anyone else and immediately seek help from an experienced attorney handling Sex Offenses. You must protect your rights and take this matter very seriously.

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

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

How the Fourth Amendment Could Protect You in Drug Cases

The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards for individuals during their interactions with law enforcement. If evidence is discovered during an interaction that violates an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, that evidence cannot be used against the individual in court.

This issue commonly arises in cases where an individual is pulled over for a traffic violation and is subsequently charged with possessing drugs. For example, if an officer pulls you over for crossing the solid line, they are not allowed to search your car for drugs if you do not consent to the search. While there are certain exceptions in place to ensure officer safety and to prevent the destruction of evidence (such as patting down an individual on the outside of their clothing to search for weapons, for example), the officer cannot freely look through your pockets or inside your vehicle.

Understanding Fourth Amendment protections is complex, and it is important that you hire an experienced attorney if you are charged with a serious offense like possession of drugs, possession of drugs with intent to distribute, or trafficking drugs. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith, PC will work diligently to discover any Fourth Amendment violations in your case and to keep the harmful evidence out of court. If you are charged with one of these serious offenses in Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, or Fayette Counties, call our office at 404-581-0999 today for a free consultation.

Statutory Rape

Statutory Rape is a serious crime in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 defines Statutory Rape as engaging in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years old who is not your  spouse.

Statutory Rape requires corroboration and cannot stand solely on the unsupported testimony of the victim.

In Georgia, it is not a defense to Statutory Rape that the accused believed the victim was of the age of consent.

Many people have the idea that if they have consensual sex, then they did not break the law. That is not true.  Individuals who commit statutory rape in Georgia can face serious felony charges. In addition to a prison sentence, a person faces being put on the Sex Offender Registry and has limits on housing and job opportunities and loses their right to vote and own a firearm.

To be convicted of Statutory Rape, it is not necessary to fully penetrate the vagina or to rupture the hymen. Only slight penetration of the vulva or labia is sufficient. Proof of force is unnecessary for statutory rape.

The punishment for Statutory Rape is very serious. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 mandates that the sentence be from 1 to 20 years in prison. If the defendant is 21 years or older, then the mandatory sentence is 10 years up to 20 years in prison with at least one year on probation. If the victim is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old and the person convicted is 18 years old and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then it is a misdemeanor and a maximum of 12 months in custody.

If the defendant is over 21 and convicted of statutory rape, he or she cannot plead under the First Offender Act.

If you face charges in Georgia for Statutory Rape, it is imperative that you do not make any statements to law enforcement or to anyone else and immediately seek help from an experienced attorney handling Sex Offenses. You must protect your rights and take this matter very seriously.

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

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

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

Child Molestation in Henry County

Child Molestation is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. If you are arrested in Henry County  for child molestation or aggravated child molestation, please do not make any statements to the police. It is imperative that you retain a qualified attorney immediately if you are being accused of child molestation. The Henry County District Attorney’s Office has a unit called the Crimes Against Women and Children Unit and they zealously prosecute these cases and they are very prepared. Many allegations of child molestation are false. Even if you know the allegation of child molestation against you is made up, you still must take it very seriously and aggressively defend yourself.

If you are arrested, you will be on a calendar the next day for First Appearance. At this hearing, the Henry County Magistrate Judge will read the warrants to you. They then might consider bond depending on the allegations but will likely deny bond in a child molestation. You will then need to file a motion for a formal bond hearing and a preliminary hearing. These hearings take place at the Henry County Courthouse.  It is crucial to get an attorney retained to be at the First Appearance hearing at the Henry County Courthouse.

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

A person commits the offense of child molestation when such person: Does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the accused OR by means of electronic device, transmits images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person.

Child Molestation is a specific intent crime. Whether the accused has the requisite intent when he committed the act of child molestation is up to a jury. The jury can infer the requisite intent of “arousing or satisfying sexual desires” from the commission of the act. However, proof of the accused’s actual arousal is not required. Intent can be inferred from the testimony of the victim or from the actions of the accused.

No penetration is required for child molestation. All that is required is the touching of the child’s body along with the requisite intent. It does not matter whether the child was clothed or unclothed in determining whether the act was immoral or indecent.

The indictment does not have to allege the specific details of the child molestation. It can use general language of the statute.

The punishment for child molestation is a mandatory of 5 years to 20 years in prison. If it a second conviction for child molestation then it can be life in prison or a mandatory 10 years up to 30 years in prison.

If someone is making an allegation of child molestation against you in Henry  County, it is imperative that you do not talk to the police, do not talk to the person who is accusing you of child molestation and call us. Time is of the essence to properly investigate the 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. Our office is in downtown Atlanta.

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.