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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.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes in Paulding County

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in Paulding 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 Paulding 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 Paulding 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 Paulding County District Attorney’s office vigorously prosecutes these cases.

Do not wait until the Paulding 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.

A Recent Georgia Supreme Court Decision on Withdrawing Guilty Pleas

A Georgia Supreme Court case that was recently decided sheds light on what circumstances would allow a guilty plea to be withdrawn and highlights the importance of hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer early in the process of defending yourself against serious criminal charges.

In Moody v. State, decided on May 16, 2023, the Georgia Supreme Court explains when and why a defendant may choose to withdraw their guilty plea. In Moody, Jeremy Moody was charged with the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl and the murder of her friend in Fulton County. The crimes occurred on April 5, 2007, Moody was indicted on April 20, 2007, and the State filed written notice that they were seeking the death penalty on May 1, 2007. Moody’s trial began on April 10, 2013, but Moody pleaded guilty to all charges shortly after trial began. The sentencing phase of Moody’s trial began on April 15 and, before a sentence was pronounced, Moody announced that he wished to withdraw his guilty plea.

In normal cases, according to O.C.G.A. § 17-7-93 (b), a defendant may withdraw their guilty plea at any time up until their sentence is pronounced. But, in cases where the State is seeking the death penalty, a defendant may only withdraw their guilty plea “to prevent a manifest injustice.” Browner v. State, 257 Ga. 321 (1987). In this case, Moody argues that his plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered and that this creates a manifest injustice. The Court found that Moody was 35 years old, had completed his G.E.D., and was not under the influence at the time of his plea. Moody also told the judge that he understood what the plea meant and that he had sufficient time to discuss the plea with his lawyer. The Court found that Moody was not coerced into pleading guilty and that he was not doing so for any reason other than because it was what he wanted to do.

This case highlights why it is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Although you may withdraw a guilty plea at any time before the sentence is pronounced in cases in which the State is not seeking the death penalty, it is very difficult to withdraw a plea after you have been sentenced by the court. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith are experienced in pre-trial negotiations and will work alongside you to determine if a plea bargain is in your best interest. If you desire a trial, the lawyers at W. Scott Smith will guarantee that you get your day in court. Call our office at 404-581-0999 today for a free consultation.

Using the Alibi Defense in Georgia

An alibi is a defense to criminal charges in Georgia where the defendant says that they weren’t at the scene when the crime occurred.

According to Georgia law, as codified in O.C.G.A. § 16-3-40, an alibi defense involves the impossibility that the person accused of a crime was at the scene of the offense when it was committed. The evidence presented must reasonably exclude the possibility that the defendant was present. IN other words, an alibi is evidence that the defendant was somewhere else when the crime was committed. The defendant doesn’t only have to show that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed but that it was reasonably impossible that he was at the scene of the crime.

For example, if you are charged with murder in Dekalb County, but you are on surveillance video over an hour away in Cherokee County at the time of the murder, you have a valid alibi defense. Additional evidence, such as receipts from establishments in Cherokee County, or people to testify that you were with them in Cherokee County at the time of the murder will strengthen your alibi defense and create the reasonable impossibility that you were at the scene of the murder as required by Georgia law. It is important to hire an experienced attorney right away to help you gather and preserve the evidence you need for this defense.

In Georgia, defendants are required to provide prosecutors notice of their intention to present an alibi defense. However, this notice has several restrictions, as spelled out in O.C.G.A. § 17-16-5. First, the prosecutor must ask for the notice within 10 days of arraignment (or at such time as the court permits). Then, the defendant must provide written notice to the prosecutor within 10 days of the prosecutor’s demand or 10 days before trial, whichever is later. Along with the notice, the defendant must also provide the specific place where they claim to have been during the commission of the crime, and the identity of the witnesses the defendant will present to establish the alibi. In return, the prosecutor must provide the identity of witnesses they will use to rebut the alibi within 5 days of the defendant’s notice or 5 days before trial.

As you can see, the rules surrounding an alibi defense are complex. It is extremely important to have an experienced attorney by your side to help navigate the rules and preserve your right to present an alibi defense. The attorneys at W. Scott Smith possess a wealth of experience defending serious crimes like rape, murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, all of which may be defeated with an alibi defense. If you have been charged with one of these serious crimes in Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Dekalb, Clayton, or Henry County, call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Sodomy in Fulton County

Sodomy is a serious crime in Fulton County.  O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2 established two separate criminal offenses. O.C.G.A.  §16-6-2(a)(1) defines sodomy as the performance of or submission to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2(a)(2) defines aggravated sodomy  as the commission of sodomy with force and against the will of the other person involved or with a person who is less than ten years of age.

The offense of aggravated sodomy protects individuals from violent acts where the offense of sodomy punishes consensual sexual behavior.

For sodomy, all that is required is contact between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another person. Proof of penetration is not required in a sodomy case unless is specifically listed in the indictment. Whether there was prohibited contact between the defendant and alleged victim is solely a question for a jury.

No corroboration is required in a sodomy case.

Aggravated Sodomy is different than Sodomy. In order to make out a case for Aggravated Sodomy, the State must show that the contact was made both with force and against the will or without the consent of the alleged victim. The standard of proof is the same as required for a rape case. Both the words and actions of the accused can be used to determine if the alleged victim was in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-15 prohibits the solicitation of sodomy. Solicitation of sodomy is defined as soliciting another individual to perform to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one and the mouth or anus of another and such act is to be performed in public in exchange for money or anything of value or by force or by or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent to sexual activity. In order to be convicted of solicitation of sodomy, the State must be present sufficient evidence of all three elements of the crime.

If you are convicted of sodomy, it is a felony punishable by not less than one nor more than twenty years in prison and is subject to the sentencing provisions of § 17-10-6.2 which requires the sexual offender to receive a split sentence including the minimum sentence of imprisonment.

Aggravated Sodomy is also a felony and is punishable by either life imprisonment or by a split sentence of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and probation for life.

Solicitation of sodomy is a misdemeanor. However if the solicitation is of someone under 18 years of age or the solicitation is for money then it is felony punishable of not less than 5 nor more than 20 years in prison.

If the victim is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of sodomy is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then the accused would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would not be subject to the sentencing provision of O.C.G.A. §17-10-6.2.

If you are arrested in Fulton County for sodomy or aggravated sodomy, you will be in the Fulton County jail at 901 Rice Street. You will be on the first appearance calendar the next morning at the Fulton County jail at 11:30am. After that date, you will be a preliminary hearing in Fulton County Magistrate Court.

Once your case is indicted, it will be transferred to Fulton County Superior Court for trial.

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.

Hiring an Attorney to Preserve Alibi Evidence

If you have been falsely charged with a crime, there may be evidence that supports an alibi defense. For example, there may be surveillance video that shows you at a location other than the crime scene at the time of the crime or your cell phone might show that you were in another state altogether.  Unfortunately, this evidence will not be accessible forever. Video surveillance is often only stored for a short period of time and cell phone records, depending on the company, are only stored for about 10-90 days.

However, if hired in time, a lawyer can send something called a spoliation letter to companies demanding that certain evidence is preserved. This letter simply alerts the company that a criminal investigation is ongoing and that the evidence should be preserved to assist your attorney in supporting your alibi. For example, if you are charged with murder in Fulton County but you were shopping at a Walmart in Cobb County at the time of the murder, it is important that we reach out to Walmart and preserve the surveillance video of you entering the store at the time of the murder. Or, if you are charged with an armed robbery in Dekalb County but your cell phone is pinging off a tower in Gwinnett County at the time of the robbery, it is important that the location data from your cell phone is preserved.

In this situation, time really is of the essence. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith recognize that swift action is required in situations like this. If you are charged with a crime and believe that evidence exists that proves your innocence, call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes in Fulton County

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in Fulton 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 Fulton 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 Fulton 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 Fulton County District Attorney’s office vigorously prosecutes these cases.

Do not wait until the Fulton 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.

Public Indecency in Fulton County

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.

Sodomy

Sodomy is a serious crime in Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2 established two separate criminal offenses. O.C.G.A.  §16-6-2(a)(1) defines sodomy as the performance of or submission to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2(a)(2) defines aggravated sodomy  as the commission of sodomy with force and against the will of the other person involved or with a person who is less than ten years of age.

The offense of aggravated sodomy protects individuals from violent acts where the offense of sodomy punishes consensual sexual behavior.

For sodomy, all that is required is contact between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another person. Proof of penetration is not required in a sodomy case unless is specifically listed in the indictment. Whether there was prohibited contact between the defendant and alleged victim is solely a question for a jury.

No corroboration is required in a sodomy case.

Aggravated Sodomy is different than Sodomy. In order to make out a case for Aggravated Sodomy, the State must show that the contact was made both with force and against the will or without the consent of the alleged victim. The standard of proof is the same as required for a rape case. Both the words and actions of the accused can be used to determine if the alleged victim was in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-15 prohibits the solicitation of sodomy. Solicitation of sodomy is defined as soliciting another individual to perform to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one and the mouth or anus of another and such act is to be performed in public in exchange for money or anything of value or by force or by or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent to sexual activity. In order to be convicted of solicitation of sodomy, the State must be present sufficient evidence of all three elements of the crime.

If you are convicted of sodomy, it is a felony punishable by not less than one nor more than twenty years in prison and is subject to the sentencing provisions of § 17-10-6.2 which requires the sexual offender to receive a split sentence including the minimum sentence of imprisonment.

Aggravated Sodomy is also a felony and is punishable by either life imprisonment or by a split sentence of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and probation for life.

Solicitation of sodomy is a misdemeanor. However if the solicitation is of someone under 18 years of age or the solicitation is for money then it is felony punishable of not less than 5 nor more than 20 years in prison.

If the victim is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted of sodomy is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than 4 years older than the victim, then the accused would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would not be subject to the sentencing provision of O.C.G.A. §17-10-6.2.

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.

Georgia Criminal Law – Fulton Orders Stay-at-Home or Face Criminal Sanction

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, district health director of the Fulton County Board of Health signed an order requiring all residents of Fulton County to stay in their residence. Individuals are “permitted to leave their places of residence only to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential businesses and governmental functions.”

A violation of this order constitutes a misdemeanor offense which carries a maximum punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, or both.

According to the order, residents may leave their home for “essential activities” to ensure the health and safety of themselves, their families, or their pets. Outdoor activity like walking or running is allowed so long as social distancing is maintained (six feet apart from each other).

“Essential businesses” in Fulton County include:

  • Healthcare operations
  • Grocery stores
  • Farming, livestock, fishing
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
  • Gas stations, auto-supply, auto repair
  • Banks
  • Hardware stores
  • Hotels, motels, conference centers – but only to provide shelter not for gatherings
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Educational institutions for the purpose of facilitating distance learning
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners
  • Restaurants for drive-thru, deliver or carry-out
  • Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities
  • Businesses that supply products for people to work from home
  • Home-based care, and residential facilities for seniors, adults or children
  • Legal or accounting services
  • Veterinary care facilities, animal shelters or animal care
  • Bike shops
  • Childcare facilities
  • Janitorial services
  • Funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries, while maintaining social distancing
  • Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroad, public transportation, ride share, solid waste collection, internet services

All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes above. Nothing in the order prevents the gathering of members of a household or living unit. This order will remain in place until rescinded.

Contact Us

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