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

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

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

This bill states that:

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

Sentencing:

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

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

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

Contact Us

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

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

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

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

This bill states that:

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

Sentencing:

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

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

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

Contact Us

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

Aggravated Assault in Cherokee County

In Cherokee County, Georgia, there are two types of assault offenses that an accused person may be convicted of: simple assault and aggravated assault. Generally, simple assault is classified as a misdemeanor where aggravated assault is a felony offense. In this blog, we will solely discuss the latter.

According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21, a person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he/she commits an assault in one of the following aggravating circumstances:

  • The accused has the intent to murder, rape, or rob;
  • The accused commits the assault with a deadly weapon or object in which could result in serious bodily injury;
  • The accused commits the assault with an object, which is likely or is actually used for strangulation; OR
  • The accused commits the assault without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle.

When the accused person commits an assault in Cherokee County in one of the above-mentioned manners the accused may be sentenced, if convicted, anywhere between 1-20 years in prison. However, the following offenses, as listed below, have different penalties due to the enhanced circumstances that surround the crime:

  • If the accused commits the aggravated assault upon a police officer while he/she is engaged in his/her official duties, the accused person may be sentenced to at least 10 years, but no more than 20 years, in prison if such assault occurs from the discharge of a firearm. However, when the aggravated assault does not involve the discharge of a firearm, the accused person may be sentenced anywhere between 5-20 years in prison;
  • Any person who commits an aggravated assault against the elderly may be sentenced to at least 3 years, but no more than 20 years, in prison. The same punishment is true for any person who commits the aggravated assault in a public transit vehicle or station;
  • If the accused commits the aggravated assault upon public school personnel or on school property, he/she may be sentenced anywhere between 5-20 years in prison;
  • If an aggravated assault is committed against a family member, as defined as “family violence” under Georgia law, the accused may be sentenced to at least 3 years, but no more than 20 years, in prison; and
  • Lastly, any person who commits an aggravated assault with the intent to rape a child under the age of 14 years old may be punished by a prison sentence of anywhere between 25-50 years.

 CONTACT US

Due to the severity of the penalties for an aggravated assault conviction, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained at defending such charges, we zealously advocate for our client’s rights, and we are knowledgeable about all possible options for an accused dealing with such serious allegations. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for aggravated assault in Cherokee County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Using Cell Phone Data in Defense of Murder in Fulton, Dekalb, and Clayton Counties

Cell phone data is becoming more and more popular as a tool that the State uses to try to place a defendant at the scene of a murder in Fulton, Dekalb, and Clayton Counties. The State often applies for, and is given, a search warrant for a suspect’s cell phone and performs a data dump of the phone to acquire all of the location data associated with calls and text messages around a given time. Fortunately, it is also a valuable tool that defense attorneys can use to prove that a defendant was not at the scene of a murder.

Utilizing cell phone data efficiently requires a basic understanding of how location data works. Each time a call or text message is sent or received, the phone pings off the nearest tower. Each tower is then divided into 3 sectors, or azimuths, comprising 120 degrees. Each azimuth then projects a “cone”, and the cone determines which direction the phone is (or is not) located. Thus, although the State will try to convince a jury that they can pinpoint the exact location of a defendant’s call phone, they can only show that the phone was located within one of the 120-degree cones and not at a specific location.

Cell phone data is more appropriately used by a defense attorney to prove that a defendant’s cell phone was not located at or near the scene of a murder. For example, if a murder occurred in the 120-degree cone of a certain cell tower pointing northwest, but the defendant’s cell phone is pinging off the cone pointing southeast from the same tower, the defendant’s phone may be excluded from being near the scene of the murder (if there were call or text messages being sent or received at or near the time of the murder).

The State will likely call an expert witness to present the cell phone data and try to place a defendant at the scene of a murder or other serious crime. Having an attorney that is familiar with how cell phone data works is important because they can cross-examine the witness and show why their analysis is incorrect. The defense attorney may then call an expert of their own to teach the jury about how to use cell phone data to show that the defendant’s cell phone was, in fact, not present at the scene.

The attorneys at W. Scott Smith have a proven track record of using cell phone data to exonerate their clients. If you are charged with a serious crime in Fulton, Dekalb, or Clayton Counties and feel that your cell phone data would show that you were not near the scene of the crime, call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Enticing A Child for Indecent Purposes

Enticing a child for indecent purposes is a serious crime in the State of Georgia. 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.

Do not wait until the State 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.

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

Giving a False Name

A person who gives a false name, address, or date of birth to a law officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties with the intent of misleading the officer as to his identity or birthdate can be charged with the misdemeanor of Giving False Name. Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 16-10-25) makes it illegal to lie to the police about your identity. However, simply refusing to hand over your ID does not give the police officer probable cause to believe that you have falsely identified yourself, so you cannot be charged with Giving a False Name under those circumstances, but refusing to hand over your license might result in an obstruction charge.

To prove that someone is guilty of Giving a False Name, the State will generally provide proof of the person’s real name, address, or date of birth by showing records such as a birth certificate, driving records, or registration.

If you have been charged with Giving a False Name, you face penalties up to 1 year and jail, a fine of $1000, or both. You need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the charges, evidence, and defenses. Give our office a call for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been charged with giving a false name. 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds.

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

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

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

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