Atlanta DUI Lawyer

by Mary Agramonte

If you or a loved one has been charged with an Atlanta DUI, picking the right criminal defense attorney can be challenging. You need to look to the credentials, success rate, and reputation of the attorney in the field. Even if you believe you are guilty of the DUI, it is still important to contact an attorney experienced in complex area of DUI law as having a knowledgeable DUI attorney can be the difference in saving and losing your driver’s license. There are some DUIs that if you plead guilty, your license is suspended without a limited permit. The license repercussions of a DUI conviction are one of many reasons to contact a DUI attorney.

Call our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Atlanta lawyers in our firm are available any time, including nights and weekends, to provide you with the best possible outcome and advice. We can be contacted 24/7 at 404-581-0999 and provide free consultations.

Our firm consists of six highly trained Atlanta and Fulton County attorneys. We have an office near the Municipal Court of Atlanta – and have successfully defended against hundreds of Atlanta DUIs. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI under his belt. He is active The National College of DUI Defense, Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, The Lawyer Club of Atlanta, the Cobb County Bar Association and the Sandy Springs Bar Association.

The address of the Atlanta Municipal Court is 150 Garnett Street. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Atlanta in Fulton County. Atlanta has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Fulton County by an Atlanta Police Officer, your case will begin in the Atlanta Municipal Court. Additionally, if you are pulled over and arrested by a Trooper with the Georgia State Patrol within the City of Atlanta, your case will also begin in the Atlanta Municipal Court. DUI Court is currently held by Judge Bey at 1pm and 3pm daily. If you’ve been arrested and are in custody, Atlanta Muncipal Court Judges hold bond hearings Sunday through Friday, daily. The Atlanta Municipal Court does not always hold bond hearings Saturdays, so if you were arrested late Friday night or early Saturday morning you may not see a Judge until Sunday.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Atlanta or in Fulton County, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Atlanta DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. If you have been charged with Driving under the Influence and your case is in the Atlanta Municipal Court, call a law firm with the experience necessary to achieve the most favorable result for you.  We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your Atlanta DUI at 404-581-0999.


First Offender Sentencing in Georgia

First offender treatment is available in Georgia for anyone who has not been previously convicted of a felony and is not charged with a serious violent felony. Serious violent felonies are murder, felony murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. Anyone charged with one of those offenses is automatically ineligible for first offender unless the charge is reduced to a lesser offense.

If a defendant receives first offender treatment, it can be both a blessing and a curse. If there are no issues during the period of probation, then no official conviction will ever be reported and the record itself will seal from public view. However, if the defendant commits a new offense while on probation or has any issues at all, then the judge has discretion to revoke the first offender status and re-sentence the defendant up the maximum sentence allowed by law.

While serving the sentence which will undoubtedly involve a period of probation, the defendant is not technically convicted of a crime but still cannot possess a firearm. After successful completion, all gun rights are restored.

Finally, first offender status can be granted retroactively if the defendant was eligible for first offender treatment at the time of the original plea but was not informed of his or her eligibility. Still, there is discretion, and the judge must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the ends of justice and the welfare of society are served by granting retroactive first offender status.

If you are charged with a crime in Georgia, then you should always consult with an attorney as to whether you are a candidate for first offender treatment. If you have already pled guilty, then you should still reach out to discuss whether you can receive retroactive first offender treatment. Give us a call today at 404-581-0999.

Atlanta Entering Auto Attorney

by Mary Agramonte

Being arrested for any crime can be a stressful experience. Being arrested for Entering  Auto or Theft by Taking can be even more stressful based on the harsh consequences and the idea of facing a felony charge. If you or your loved one has been arrested for Entering Auto in the Atlanta area, it is important to know your rights and to have a team of lawyers behind you from the very beginning fighting for your freedom.

In Georgia, Entering Auto is a felony offense which carries one to five years in prison. If the person arrested for Entering Auto already has a felony on their record, then they could be facing a lengthier sentence. You can be charged with Entering Auto even if you never stole anything from within the vehicle. The crime is complete soon as you enter the car with the intent to commit a theft or felony. Unfortunately, it is not a defense that the owner of the car gave you permission to go in the car initially.

However, there is good news. If you have been arrested for Entering Auto, there are defenses based on lack of intent to commit the theft, and inability for the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There are ways to avoid the felony conviction as well as the prison time. The judge has the discretion to even sentence you as a misdemeanor for this charge, so you need qualified attorneys ready to present your case in the most favorable way possible.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Entering Auto, it is imperative to get a team of criminal defense attorneys on your side. Having Atlanta Entering Auto attorneys can help you beat the case completely, or minimize the jail and fines. There are defenses to Entering Auto, so do not plead guilty without first talking to an Atlanta Entering Auto attorney. Call us today for a free consultation and know your rights as it relates to an Entering Auto case. 404-581-0999

The Dangers of Eyewitness Testimony in Georgia

A number of cases have been overturned in recent years due to newly discovered DNA evidence. Many of those convictions were based on false eyewitness identifications. Most of the eyewitnesses did not lie, they just “misremembered.” That is the danger of this sort of testimony because the witness may be genuinely unaware of the inaccuracies in their testimony.

One underlying issue with eyewitness testimony is a misunderstanding of how memory works. The act of remembering is more akin to putting puzzle pieces together rather than retrieving a video recording. A memory can be distorted over time or from misinformation provided by third parties. For these reasons, it is critical to document one’s memory as close in time to the actual event as possible. If you have eyewitnesses that you believe can be beneficial to your case, then you should always get them to write down as many details as possible while the memory is fresh before time and outside influences can distort that memory. For police purposes, the identification process should be videotaped if possible, and the witness should be told that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup.

There are a multitude of issues that could result in a false identification. Recognizing those issues in your criminal case is something that may require a second set of eyes. Feel free to call our office for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

False Report of a Crime in Georgia

By: Mary Agramonte

Under Georgia law, it is illegal to transmit false information to law enforcement, fire departments, and the public at large. For example, you can be charged with a crime in Georgia for calling 911 to report crimes, bombs, fires, or other serious situations that do not actually exist. In Georgia, these crimes are called False Report of a Crime, False Report of a Fire, and Transmitting a False Public Alarm.

In Georgia, it is a crime to willfully and knowingly give a false report of a crime to any law enforcement officer or agency. In fact, you can be charged with felony false statement AND misdemeanor false report of a crime for making up a crime that did not actually happen. If you are charged with both of these crimes, you will be sentenced for committing the misdemeanor, and will be subject to up to a year in jail, costly probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. Similarly, it is also a misdemeanor in Georgia to call the fire department for a fire that does not exist. This can also subject you to jail, probation, fines, and a criminal history for life.

Georgia treats the offense of Transmitting a False Public Alarm much more seriously. For example, if someone reports a bomb or other hazardous substance that does not actually exist, you can be found guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor. Depending on the location of the warning, you can be found guilty of a felony, where the mandatory minimum would be five to ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $100,000, that you would be required to pay.

Georgia courts treat False Report of Crimes, False Report of Fires, and Transmitting a False Public Alarms very seriously. If you or a friend has been charged with a crime involving the false report of a crime, call an experience criminal defense law firm right away. We provide FREE CONSULTATIONS that can protect your freedom and your future. 404-581-0999.

VIDEO – How to Choose a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney

by Scott Smith

I’ve been charged with a serious crime. How do I choose a criminal defense attorney to represent me? Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer is the subject of today’s video blog.

After you have been arrested or cited for a crime the first thing most people do is start a search for a criminal defense attorney to protect them and get them the best possible outcome.

Some people are fortunate to know a lawyer or have a lawyer in the family. Others, who are not so fortunate, will turn to the internet and google ‘criminal defense lawyer near me’ or ‘best criminal defense attorney near me.’

There are review sites to turn to such as AVVO and Google Plus. These sites can be helpful in finding someone to competently handle your case.

I suggest you look at it like buying a house or a car. First, do not buy the first car you step into. I would suggest making at least three appointments to see different lawyers. In my experience, you want to get a feel for the lawyer, his or her law firm and the personality of the lawyer themselves.

Things I would suggest you look for: Organization of the office itself, responsiveness on the phone and in person, how the lawyer dresses and how long you have to wait in their waiting room.

In meeting with the lawyer it is perfectly normal to ask the difficult questions, such as have you handled these types of cases before, do you handle solely criminal defense cases, what results should I expect and how do you feel about my case?

A lawyer should never guarantee results. If a lawyer guarantee’s a result, run. In Georgia it is unethical and reckless to guarantee a result.

Some people are looking for the best priced lawyer. I believe this is a mistake. There are certain things you want to skimp on the price. This works when it comes to bath towels and paper plates. Your freedom should never be one of those things.

Finally, I have always said every case can be won. It just takes the right lawyer, right time, and right jury. Keeping this in mind do not discount someone based on years of experience or familiarity with the court. Sometimes, a lawyer without ties to the county can have a bigger impact than a ‘local lawyer.’ Similarly, a young lawyer can out perform a seasoned lawyer as they can sometimes try harder. I much rather have a lawyer that is passionate with only a few cases under their belt than a lawyer with no personality that is a scholar of the law.

I hope some of these tips help in your search of the best criminal defense lawyer for your case. If you wish to meet with me or one of the lawyers in our office, come see us. We would love the have you. The office number is 404-581-0999.

VIDEO – Marijuana Possession in Georgia May be Treated as a Felony

Did you know that personal possession of less than one ounce of marijuana isn’t always classified as a misdemeanor under Georgia law? I’m Scott Smith and personal possession of marijuana is the subject of today’s video blog.

The statutes that cover marijuana laws are in the official code of Georgia Title Sixteen Chapter Thirteen. This chapter covers all controlled substances under the Georgia Code.

In Georgia, it is only a misdemeanor to possess less than one ounce of marijuana for personal use if that marijuana is still in plant form. That includes all areas of the plant including low potency areas like leaves, stalks, and stems.

But if that same less than one ounce of marijuana has been extracted or concentrated into a substance that no longer has a plant like appearance, then possession of any amount of that substance is considered a felony under Georgia law.

This includes marijuana infused foods like lollipops, brownies, and candies along with concentrated marijuana that takes the appearance of a wax and oil like substances.

Possession of any type of marijuana, plant or otherwise, of one ounce or more is a felony under Georgia law.

If you’re facing possession of marijuana charges, it is important to know your defenses. Was the marijuana found after an illegal traffic stop? Is there enough marijuana to be tested? Has the marijuana been tested and did it come back positive? Was the amount of marijuana found less than the officer states in their report?

At the Peach State Lawyer law firm, our experienced drug attorneys can evaluate these defenses and discuss strategy in handling your case. Georgia law provides options for handling your marijuana case that can allow experienced attorneys to prevent convictions on your criminal history, even for repeat offenders.

Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999 and let us help you with your marijuana case. Thank you.

VIDEO – One Leg Stand Field Sobriety Test

by Scott Smith and Ryan Walsh

You’ve agreed to take standardized field sobriety tests and the next thing you know you are raising your foot off the ground, trying to balance on one leg. What is this test? What is the officer looking for? Those questions are the subject of today’s Peach State Lawyer video blog.

The last of the three standardized field sobriety tests is the one leg stand field sobriety test. This test is performed exactly how it sounds. The officer will have you stand with your feet together, hands down by your side. You will then raise one leg six inches off the ground and hold that position, counting out one thousand-one, one thousand-two, and so on, until the officer asks you to stop.

Typically, this test will last approximately thirty seconds. During this test, the officer is looking for four specific clues. Those clues are number one, putting your foot down, hopping, swaying, and using your arms for balance.

If any of these four clues happen once at any time during the test, it constitutes a clue. Exhibiting two clues out of four clues indicates to the officer that you are an impaired driver. An experienced Georgia DUI attorney can help you look at a copy of the video and point out the good and bad things done on the test. This includes the officer’s description and demonstration of the test.

In our experience, people who have nothing to drink can sometimes perform very poorly on this dexterity test.

Our officer of experienced Georgia DUI attorneys can look at your performance on any of these field sobriety tests and tell you the legal and factual defenses we can use to help get your charges dismissed, reduced, or prepared to fight at trial.

We’re available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to meet with you regarding your pending DUI case. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

Thank you so much.

VIDEO – What to Do When Stopped for DUI

You’ve gone out with friends or family. You’ve had a few drinks and you’re driving home when you see the blue lights behind you. What do you do when stopped for DUI? That’s the topic of today’s Peach State Lawyer video blog. Hi, I’m Scott Smith and today we’re talking about what do you do when stopped for DUI after a night out drinking.

From the time you first notice an officer behind you, you need to know that the police officer has already begun their DUI investigation.

When you see those blue lights turn on, your first job is to pull over safely and quickly. Use your turn signal to indicate you notice the police officer behind you. Slow down and pull over onto the first side street or well-lit parking lot you see.

Once stopped, put your car in park and get your driver’s license out. Put it in a place where you can easily reach it as the officer will ask you for it. Check the time in your vehicle and think about where you were coming from before you were stopped and where you were going. Also know the addresses of any major cross streets in the area you were pulled over.

Expect the officer to approach your window and ask you if you know why you were pulled over. It is okay to tell them you are not sure why you were stopped. But know your statement can be an admission against you.

After this brief conversation officers will ask you more specific questions about how much you had to drink and where you were earlier that evening. Be careful with your answers. Any admissions of drinking can be used against you at trial. But a denial of drinking may be just as harmful as an admission.

Field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. Politely refuse them. These tests are designed solely to gather evidence that can help police officers make their decision to arrest you. You cannot pass these tests.

There are three standardized field sobriety tests that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has determined are the only series of tests to determine alcohol impairment. These tests are number one the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, two, the walk and turn test, and three the one leg stand test. An in depth discussion of each of these tests is available in a separate video blog highlighting each of them.

You should also refuse to submit to a roadside breath test. Even though the officer will deny it, the roadside breath test will provide a number. And that number will be used by the officer in their decision to arrest you.

A DUI on your criminal history can follow you forever. Our office of experienced and trained Georgia DUI attorneys can help answer answer any questions you have about hypothetical situations or pending charges. We’re available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to help you out. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Thank you so much.

VIDEO – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

You’ve been stopped for DUI and the officer asks you to follow their finger with your eyes? What is this horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test? And can it even be passed? That is the subject of today’s Peach State Lawyer video blog.

Hello, I’m attorney Scott Smith and today I’m standing in our mock trial courtroom. We’re talking about being asked out of your car after only having two drinks. The officer asks you to face him and with your hands by your side, feet shoulder width apart to follow his pen with your eyes. He asks you if you wear glasses or contacts or if you’ve had any recent head injuries. You’re about to perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test. It’s commonly known as the HGN test, or in the DUI world, the “eye” test.

What is this test?

The horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test was originally designed by optometrists to diagnose medical issues within your eyes. The test checks for the involuntary jerking of your eye as your eyes move side to side horizontal to the floor following an object. Researchers determined some substances, particularly ethyl alcohol, and other central nervous system depressants, inhalants, and the drug PCP can cause horizontal gaze nystagmus in your eyes after use.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test, when properly performed looks for six clues of impairment. In Georgia DUI investigations, this test is the first of the standardized field sobriety evaluations.

Before the test can be performed on anyone, the officer is supposed to make sure both of your pupils are of equal size and your eyes move together from side to side. If you are having eye issues, the officer is supposed to discontinue the test immediately.

The clues are established in pairs. There are three tests performed that look for clues of impairment. The first test, called lack of smooth pursuit, is performed by the officer moving his finger back and forth across your field of vision, checking for nystagmus in both eyes as his finger or pen light is moving.

Because your eyes work together, each clue will be present in both eyes. If the officer says they notice a clue in one eye but not the other, the test would not be valid.

The second test is called distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. It is where the officer moves his finger to the edge of your field of vision and holds it there for a minimum of four seconds to determine if your eye continues to exhibit sustained jerking when it is fixed on his finger at the edge of your field of vision.

These tests are designed to build upon each other, so you should never see clues present for distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation unless clues are present for lack of smooth pursuit.

The third and final test is called onset of nystagmus prior to a forty-five degree angle. The test is performed by the officer moving his finger slowly from the center of your field of vision until they reach a forty-five degree angle. When the officer begins to see nystagmus they are supposed to stop their finger and hold it to confirm the sustained jerking of the eye.

That’s it. That’s the entire horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test. There’s nothing you can do to pass it. It’s all about the involuntary jerking of the eye and trusting that the officer in his report has documented his observations accurately.

As you can imagine, there are things that an experienced attorney can look for to determine whether the tests are performed correctly. If the tests are not performed correctly, an experienced DUI attorney can ensure the test should not be admitted into evidence or at trial against you.

Have you been recently arrested for DUI and asked to take this eye test? Do you have questions about the test? We’re available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to talk to you. Call us today for a free consultation. Our telephone number is 404-581-0999.

Thank you.