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Family Violence Battery Charges in Georgia

In Georgia, a family violence battery is the identical charge of battery except that the alleged victim in the case has some sort of familial connection to the accused. The State of Georgia also takes family violence offenses very seriously and they can prosecute the accused of family violence, even if the victim does not want to press charges.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23.1, a person commits a battery when he/she intentionally causes substantial physical or visible bodily harm to another. However, in order for a person to be charged with family violence battery, the crime must have occurred between the following people:

  • Spouses or former spouses;
  • Individuals who have a child together;
  • Parents and children;
  • Step-parents and step-children;
  • Foster-parents and foster-children; and
  • Individuals living or formerly living in the same household.

Penalties

A family violence battery can either be characterized as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the past criminal history of the accused. A major consequence of a family violence battery conviction is that any future convictions of the same crime is an automatic felony. The first conviction of a family violence battery is sentenced as a misdemeanor, however, the second and subsequent convictions have a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. This rule, however, does not apply to simple battery- family violence. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23, simple battery occurs either when:

  • A person makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking manner with the person of another; or
  • Intentionally causes physical harm to another.

Simple battery-family violence is identical to the crime of simple battery, except the alleged crime occurred between the following people listed above, which constitutes a familial tie.

After the first conviction of simple battery-family violence, unlike family violence battery, the second conviction is still merely characterized as a misdemeanor. A person convicted of simple battery- family violence or misdemeanor family violence battery may be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Due to the severity of the penalties for a family violence charge, 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 a serious charge. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained at defending such allegations. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for family violence battery or simple battery-family violence, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Receiving Arrest in Georgia

Georgia law has two different statutes that address the crime of theft by receiving. The first section defines the offense of receiving stolen property while the second Georgia statute describes receiving property that was stolen from another state.

The first statute describing the crime of theft by receiving is transcribed in O.C.G.A. § 16-8-7. In this section, theft by receiving occurs when a person receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property, which he/she knows or should have known was stolen unless the property is received, disposed of, or retained with the intent to restore it to the rightful owner.

In order for the prosecution to convict a person of theft by receiving, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following four elements. These elements include:

  • The accused bought or received the goods in question;
  • The goods in question have been stolen by some person other than the accused;
  • At the time of the transaction, the accused knew or should have known that the goods in question were stolen; and
  • The accused acted with criminal intent.

Therefore, if the direct and uncontested evidence proves that the accused is the original thief of the goods in question then the accused cannot be convicted of theft by receiving. Furthermore, even if the accused is not certain, but has reason to believe that the goods in question are stolen, the accused may have committed theft by receiving according to Georgia law.

The second section regarding the crime of theft by receiving is described in O.C.G.A. § 16-8-8. This statute is read in the same manner as O.C.G.A. § 16-8-7, except for the fact that the property in question was received, disposed of, or retained in another state other than the state of Georgia.

Value of Goods

In determining whether the theft by receiving charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the goods/property, which were allegedly stolen, and then received by the accused. For misdemeanor theft by receiving convictions, usually the value of the goods in question must be estimated at a value less than $1,500. For a felony conviction, the goods in question must at least be valued at $1,500 or more. However, if the value of the goods is estimated at more than $1,500, but less than $5,000, the judge has discretion in sentencing the accused to either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is also true for theft by receiving offenses in which the value of the goods is at least $5,000, but less than $25,000.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the punishment for a theft by receiving conviction, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by receiving, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by receiving, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Conversion Arrest in Georgia

In Georgia, like other theft offenses, a theft by conversion charge can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property converted. According to § O.C.G.A. 16-8-4, theft by conversion occurs when a person lawfully obtains another individual’s funds or property and then unlawfully converts such property to his/her own use.

In order to convict an accused for theft by conversion, the elements of the offense must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused lawfully obtained funds or property of another;
  • The funds or property were obtained by an agreement between the accused and the owner;
  • The agreement required that the accused used the funds/property for a particular purpose;
  • However, instead, the accused knowingly converted the property for his/her own use.

Value of Property

In determining whether the theft by conversion charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the property converted. In Georgia, funds or property valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the property in question is valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.

In these types of cases, the value of the property is determined by properly measuring the fair cash market value either at the time and place of the alleged theft or any stage during the receipt or concealment of the property in question.

Defenses

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assert affirmative defenses to either request a reduction in the penalties of a theft by conversion conviction or receive a dismissal of all charges. Thus, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations.

Such affirmative defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of intent;
  • Consent;
  • Accused used the property as intended;
  • Innocence;
  • Intoxication, if it negates intent;
  • Charges should be reduced, because the property value was less than the prosecution alleged.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by conversion, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious offense. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by conversion, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Theft by Deception Arrest in Georgia

According to § O.C.G.A. 16-8-3, theft by deception occurs when a person obtains property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. However, deceitful means does not include statements of exaggeration that are unlikely to deceive the rightful owner or false statements as to matters that have little to no financial significance.

Some examples of theft by deception include, but are not limited to:

  • Billing someone for a job that an accused did not complete;
  • Making false statements to persuade the rightful owner to let the accused take their property;
  • Selling property when the accused knew that there was a lien/ some other loan attached to it.

Value of Property

In determining whether the theft by deception charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the property stolen. In Georgia, goods or property valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the property or goods in question are valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.

Defenses

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assert affirmative defenses to either request a reduction in the penalties of a theft by deception conviction or receive a dismissal of all charges. Thus, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations.

Some affirmative defenses to theft by deception include, but are not limited to:

  • Actual innocence;
  • Lack of intent;
  • Future payment: In Elliott v. State, 149 Ga. App. 579 (1979), the court found that the accused could not be convicted for theft by deception when he arranged to pay for the goods in question by making a promise to the rightful owner of future payment. The court found that there was no theft by deception, because there was no false representation made, the accused made a good faith promise of future payment;
  • Charges should be reduced, because the property value was less than the prosecution alleged;
  • Continuous criminal act: if the prosecution alleges that multiple items were stolen; an experienced criminal defense attorney could instead argue that the string of thefts constituted only one continuous crime. This would reduce the number of counts of theft that the State of Georgia has brought forward against the accused, and likely, will reduce the sentencing of such a charge.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by deception, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious offense. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by deception, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Possession of Marijuana is Still a Crime in Georgia

Arrests for possession of marijuana are very common in Georgia. If an individual possesses less than one ounce of marijuana, they likely will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if they are found to have possessed more than one ounce of marijuana, the offense will generally be classified as a felony. A conviction of possession of marijuana can have serious consequences on one’s life, such as fines, possible jail time, risk of a criminal record, possible probationary term, employment concerns, suspension of a driver’s license, etc. Therefore, if you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, it is strongly advised that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately about your pending case.

The Offense

Georgia Criminal Code § 16-13-30 states that it is illegal for any person to possess, purchase, or have under their dominion and control a controlled substance, such as marijuana. To have possessed marijuana, there must be actual or constructive possession of it by the defendant. This does not necessarily mean that it needs to be found on their person, instead the defendant can merely have constructive possession of the marijuana to be convicted of this offense.

Actual Possession: For purposes of determining possession of marijuana, a person who knowingly has direct physical control over the drug is considered to have actual possession of it.

Constructive Possession: Constructive possession of marijuana exists where a person, though not in actual or direct physical possession of the drug, knowingly has both the power and the intention at any given time to exercise dominion and control over it. This means that where a defendant knows that marijuana is in proximity to him/her, and they have an intent to possess or physically control it, that individual can be found guilty of possession of marijuana. However, spatial proximity to drugs alone, without any additional evidence such as evidence of the intent to possess, is not enough to support a conviction for possession of marijuana. Therefore, at trial an experienced criminal defense attorney could argue that if a defendant is not aware of the marijuana, does not have the intent to possess or control it, and does not have direct physical possession of it then they cannot be convicted of possession of marijuana.

Punishment

A defendant’s first conviction of possession of marijuana, where they possessed less than one ounce, can risk them facing up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. If the defendant possesses between one ounce and ten pounds of marijuana, the offense is a felony and the defendant can face anywhere from 1-10 years in jail or prison. If the aggregate amount of marijuana is more than ten pounds, the offense is considered to be trafficking of marijuana and a defendant can face up to fifteen years in prison. Because of the severity of the punishment for possession of marijuana, it is vital to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney that understands the law, is aware of the defendant’s rights in the criminal justice system, and can zealously defend their client at trial. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know the possible options if you have been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, we are experienced and skilled at defending such a charge, and we work tirelessly at advocating for our client’s rights. Thus, if you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of marijuana, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Fulton County Rice Street Jail Bond – What You Need to Know

If you have been arrested in Fulton County by one of the county’s municipalities you may be transported to the Fulton County jail for a bond hearing.  These municipalities include the following: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Palmetto, Roswell, Sandy Springs, South Fulton, and Union City. This is a brief informational to explain what to expect.

First Thing to Know

To be on the calendar for bond consideration the day after your arrest you must finished being booked into the Fulton County Jail no later than 2 a.m.  So, for clients turning themselves in we recommend you turn yourself in directly to the jail no later than 6 pm in order to make the calendar the following day.  The court runs six days a week; no court on Sunday.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor you will have court at 9:00 a.m.

If you are charged with a felony you will have court at 11:00 a.m.

Visitor Rules

The Court does allow for visitors.  However, there are certain rules to abide by.  You are not allowed to bring electronics into the jail, including cell phones.  No smart watches are allowed either.  The Fulton County jail does not permit you to wear open toed shoes or bring in a purse or handbag, so leave it in your car.  You must bring with you a valid Georgia ID, and note that the jail will sometimes run your criminal record for warrants while going to first appearance.  If you are a victim in the criminal case the judge will acknowledge your presence.

Will I get a bond?

Factors the judge will consider in whether to grant a bond include:  

(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.

The trial court must explain its reasons for denying bond to assist appellate review. The granting or denial of bail will not be set aside unless there is a manifest and flagrant abuse of discretion.

How Much Will It Cost?

When fixing the amount of bail, the judge is to consider chiefly the probability that the accused, if freed, will appear at trial; other factors to be considered include the accused’s ability to pay, the seriousness of the offense, and the accused’s character and reputation.

If a lawyer is at your bond hearing, your chances of getting a bond are significantly increased. That’s why, when you or a loved one is in custody at Fulton county jail, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t miss your chance at bonding out.

Call us at (404) 581-0999 to speak with our experienced defense lawyers and get a lawyer at a bond hearing as early as today.

Bond Revocation Hearings in Georgia Criminal Cases

Bond is a constant balancing act between protecting society from alleged wrongdoers and preventing excessive incarceration before having one’s guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The main purpose of bond is to ensure that the accused returns to court.

However, judges frequently include special conditions in a bond order. Sometimes, the defendant is ordered not to have any contact with the alleged victim or any co-defendants in his or her case. Sometimes, there are curfews and/or restrictions on places that the defendant can visit. If the defendant is alleged to have violated a special condition, then the prosecutor will seek to revoke the defendant’s bond. If this happens, the defendant is afforded minimal protections. The rules of evidence do not apply in a bond revocation hearing so hearsay is admissible, and the standard of proof is only by a preponderance of evidence. With that said, these hearings can be valuable in assessing the credibility of the alleged victim. If you can catch the alleged victim in a lie at the bond revocation hearing, then you can use that dishonesty to attack their credibility at trial, or a reasonable prosecutor may be willing to negotiate a reduction in the charges or a complete dismissal.

How do I get a bond?

If you or a loved one has recently been arrested, the first thing on your mind is getting out of jail.  Unfortunately, the process of bonding out is more complicated than expected.  So, what do you need to know to get out of jail as quickly as possible?

1)      Will I get a bond?  If so, when?

In Georgia, the rules are organized according to whether the arrest offense is a felony or a misdemeanor.  If it is a misdemeanor, then you are entitled to a bond by law.  If the charge is a felony, then it is in the judge’s discretion whether to grant bail.  There are certain serious offenses for which only a superior court judge can grant bail.  In that case, the superior court will be notified of your arrest within 48 hours.  The superior court is then required to set a bond hearing within 30 days after receiving the notice.  However, if you file a petition for a bond, then the hearing must be held within 10 days after receiving the petition.

2)      What does the court consider when determining whether to grant bond and when determining high the bond should be? 

Judges consider four factors when determining whether to grant bond, and when determining how much the bond should be: (1) Are you a risk to run away and not come back to court?; (2) Do you pose a threat or danger to people or property in the local community?; (3) Is it likely that you will commit a felony before your case is resolved?; and (4) Are you likely to intimidate witnesses against you?

3)      Once I get a bond, what are my options for covering the amount? 

Cash bond – This requires you to put up the entire bond amount in cash or by money order.  Most people cannot afford the entire amount, and that is where bondsmen come in.  As long as you are able to pay 13-15% of the bond, then a bondsman will put up the money for you and require that you pay a fee.

*The money that you pay to bond out will be refunded at the close of the case as long as it is not forfeited by your failure to appear in court.  The fee to the bonding company will not be refunded. 

Property bond – You may be able to put up real property (house or land) as a way to guarantee your appearance in court.  Generally, you must have enough equity in the home or property to cover the amount of the bond.  In some places, you have to have twice the amount of the bond in equity.  Most bondsmen will still help you bond out of jail, and they may accept more than just real property.  For example, some will allow you to put up the title to your car as a guarantee that you will return to court.  Remember, if you use property to bond out and you fail to appear in court, then you are at risk of losing that property!

If you or a loved one have recently been arrested and want help bonding out, do not hesitate to contact us at 404-581-0999. You can trust that our firm will do everything possible to get you or your loved one out of jail and to make the process as simple and painless as possible.