How Cell Phone Records Can Create an Alibi Defense in Georgia Criminal Cases

by Scott Smith

An alibi is a claim that you were not on the scene when the crime was committed. Alibi is a powerful defense in Georgia.  It is a statement to the jury you were not present when the crime was committed and therefore you cannot be found guilty. Although there are some exceptions, presence of the defendant at the scene is an essential element of the crime.

For the most part, in order to use an alibi defense at trial in Georgia, the defense must serve the prosecutor with an alibi notice upon the prosecuting attorney.  An alibi notice is a written notice of the Client’s intention to offer a defense of alibi. Such notice by the defense attorney shall state the specific place or places at which the client was (i.e. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama) at the time of the alleged offense (i.e. January 5th, 2018) and the names, addresses, dates of birth, and telephone numbers of the witnesses, if known to the client, upon whom the client intends to rely to establish such alibi.  However, if it is the defendant himself who is going to give the alibi defense the defendant is not required to furnish the State’s prosecutor with his version of events or expected testimony.

Alibi is very powerful because the jury must acquit if they cannot put you on the scene.  However, it will be sufficient if the State can show you were near the scene of the crime.  In order to really give potency to your alibi, it is incredibly helpful to show your cell phone (which we all carry around with us all the time) was nowhere near the scene, but in the area you claim to be.  In order to this, you will need to subpoena your cell phone records.

The reason cell phone records are important is that cell phones connect to cell phone antennas to pass data through radio signals.  Your cell phone company records the communication with the cell phone antenna.  Specifically, the phone records include:

  1. Identification of the antenna(s) with which a cell device connects (this includes on newer phones when you are roaming and not actively on a phone call);
  2. The azimuth of the antenna (the direction in which the antenna is pointed) with which the cell device is communicating; and
  3. The time in which the connection was initiated and terminated.

By using this information, the attorney is able to get a general idea of where the cell phone is located.  If you have three cell phone antennas pinging at the same time you can potentially triangulate the location.

Subpoenas for phone records should only be issued by an attorney and they can only be issued if and when there is an established case number and court date.

Here is an excerpt from a March 2018 criminal case (Douglas v. State) in the Supreme Court of Georgia: “The jury also received cell-phone records indicating that, at the time of the shooting, a cell phone belonging to Appellant’s mother was within two miles of the scene; likewise, the jury heard testimony that Appellant was known to sometimes use his mother’s cell phone and to travel in the Ford Taurus with her.”  As you can imagine this testimony and exhibits are powerful evidence.

If you have questions about using cell phone records in Georgia call us today for a free consultation, 404-581-0999.

Aggressive Driving Attorneys in Georgia

by Mary Agramonte

Georgia uses a point system to categorize different types of traffic tickets. Traffic offenses range from 1 point all the way up to 6 points. 6 point offenses are considered the most serious, have the harshest penalties, and are the most likely to land you in jail facing high fines and even a suspended license.

Georgia treats the offense of Aggressive Driving as a 6 point offense, meaning it is considered a very serious offense in Georgia courts. Under Georgia law, a person commits the offense of Aggressive Driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. For example, if you are overtaking and passing someone with that intent, then you can be charged with Aggressive Driving. Similarly, if you are “tailgating” someone by following them very closely, then you can be charged with Aggressive Driving. In Georgia, you can be cited or arrested for Aggressive Driving if an officer observes you commit an act of road rage or if someone on the road calls 911 to report it.

Aggressive Driving has harsh penalties, and because of that you need the best Aggressive Driving Attorneys in Atlanta on your side fighting for you and your freedom. Aggressive Driving is considered a High and Aggravated Misdemeanor. This means that the maximum penalty can be a $5,000 fine (which ends up being much higher with the additional court costs and fees), and can land you in jail for up to 12 months. This is all in addition to the 6 points it will add to your driver’s license , which is then reported to your car insurance company, which can result in significantly higher premiums.

If you are under 21, an Aggressive Driving conviction will automatically suspend your license. Even if you are over 21 years old, the Aggressive Driving charge can still suspend your license depending on how many other tickets you have had in the past two years. Additionally, if you are arrested on scene for Aggressive Driving, then this will appear on your criminal history forever, unless the case is won with the help of knowledgeable Atlanta criminal defense attorneys.

Get the legal help you need. There are defenses available to those charged with Aggressive Driving in Georgia, but you need experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side to protect your freedom, your wallet, and your future. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Terroristic Threats in Georgia

by Mary Agramonte

Many people are surprised to learn that you can actually be arrested for threatening to kick someone’s a**. There tends to be an assumption that such a statement would be covered by our country’s First Amendment on free speech. However, this is not the case. Threatening to commit any crime of violence can result with you facing serious criminal charges in Georgia, as it can land you with an arrest for Terroristic Threats.

Under O.C.G.A. §16-11-37(b), a person commits the criminal charge of Terroristic Threats in Georgia when he or she threatens to commit any crime of violence against another. Depending on the nature of the threat, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  For example, if you tell someone you are going to hit them, it is a misdemeanor; if you suggest you are going to cause the death of someone, then it is a felony. It does not matter if the threat is by phone or in person.

In Georgia, a misdemeanor Terroristic Threat charge carries with it probation, fines, classes, community service, and a criminal history that cannot be undone. If you have been charged with felony Terroristic Threat in Georgia, you can be punished with even higher fines. Additionally, you can spend one to five years in prison, and be considered a convicted felon for the rest of your life.

Given the harsh consequences associated with an arrest for a Terroristic Threats in Georgia, it is important you have a criminal defense firm on your side who is not afraid to fight for you. There are defenses to Terroristic Threats and ways to avoid criminal conviction for it. Call 404-581-0999 to schedule your FREE CONSULTATION with a Georgia Terroristic Threat attorney today.

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.

Marietta Driving under the Influence (DUI) Lawyer

by Mary Agramonte

If you or a loved one has been charged with a Marietta DUI, contact our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Marietta 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 Marietta and Cobb County attorneys. We have an office near the Marietta Square and Cobb Courthouse – with the Peach State Lawyer Hummer parked out front. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI under his belt, and 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. Mary Agramonte is an associate of W. Scott Smith and is a Marietta and Cobb County DUI lawyer and has successfully completed multiple advanced DUI seminars, as well as attended the renowned Bill Daniels Trial Lawyers College.

The address of Marietta Municipal Court is 240 Lemon St NE, Marietta, GA 30060. It is located in the same building as the Marietta Police Department. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Marietta in Cobb County. The City of Marietta has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Cobb County by a Marietta Police Officer, your case will begin in the Marietta Municipal Court.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Marietta or in Cobb County, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Cobb County DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. If you have been charged with Driving with a Suspended License, a Super Speeder Speeding ticket, or Possession of Marijuana, and your case is in the Marietta Municipal Court, then 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 Marietta DUI or Marietta traffic case at 404-581-0999.

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.

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.

Are you entitled to Bond in the State of Georgia in Criminal Cases?

The court is authorized but not required to grant a bond in most cases. The court may deny bond or grant a very high bond for more serious offenses, especially with repeat offenders. When deciding whether to grant a bond as well as to what amount, the court considers the following:

Does the person pose a significant threat of fleeing or failing to appear in court?

Does the person pose a significant danger to any person, the community or property?

Does the person pose a significant risk of committing a felony pending trial?

Does the person pose a significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice?

Hiring an attorney shows that the defendant is committed to showing up to defend against the charges. If you have an active warrant for your arrest, then we can help streamline the turn in process and ensure that there is a bond for the charges so as to prevent excessive incarceration. If your loved one has been denied a bond, then contact us at 404-581-0999 to discuss how we can assist in bringing them back home.

Giving False Names and Statements to Police in Georgia

by Mary Agramonte

The Constitution gives us an absolute right to remain silent in response to police questioning. Our best advice is to use it. Your silence cannot be used against you and is not a crime. So proudly use it!

Often times, people will instead make stories up to police officers in hopes of convincing them: ‘it wasn’t me!’ This can put you in a worse position as it is against the law to give false names, or false statements to police. In other words, providing basic identifying information is encouraged; lying can land you in jail.

It is a misdemeanor crime in Georgia to give a false name or birth date to a police officer if he’s in the lawful discharge of his official duties. O.C.G.A. §16-10-20.  Misdemeanors in Georgia have a fine of up to $1,000, plus all the taxes and surcharges. Giving a false name or birthday to an office can even carry up to a year in prison, or can land you on costly and time-consuming probation.

Similarly, under O.C.G.A. §16-10-20, it is against the law to make a use or make false statement to any government agency. In Georgia, it is a felony to make a false statement, or to make or use a false writing or document in any matter involving a government agency. The punishment for speaking or writing a false statement is a mandatory minimum of one to five years in prison, or a fine of $1,000, or both.

For example, it is illegal to alter or falsify information on any applications or documents that you are presenting to any branch of the government. It is also against the law to knowingly conceal or cover up something to the police, and it is illegal to lie to a police officer. All of these things can place you in a position where you are facing felony charges and serious prison time.

If you have been arrested and charged with giving a false name or false statement, it is important you have experienced criminal defense attorneys on your team fighting for innocence and freedom. Call the office now at 404-581-0999 and mention this blog to get a FREE CONSULTATION on your false name or false statement case in Georgia.


Be Ready for the Unthinkable – Child Molestation in Georgia

by Ryan Walsh

Charges of child molestation or the sexual abuse of a child are the most serious cases we face as attorneys in Georgia. They usually begin with a call from someone who says they’ve been contacted by a detective regarding allegations of improper contact with a child and need to know if they should make a statement. We urge anyone who has been contacted by a law enforcement officer to call our office immediately before making any sort of statement. It is okay to tell them I need to contact my attorney. Get the detectives name and telephone number and bring that information to our office immediately.

To understand how to defend charges of child molestation and sexual abuse, you need to understand what child molestation is. Child molestation is define in the Official Code of Georgia Section 16-6-4 and states a person commits the act of child molestation when someone commits an immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of sixteen years old with the intent to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person. You can also be charged with child molestation if you send a sexually explicit image to a child under 16 with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the sender.

The sentencing range for someone convicted of Child Molestation carries a minimum sentence of five years, and can be up to life imprisonment depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the accusation.

Defending those accused of child molestation is difficult. The allegation often arises from the statement of a child to a person of authority, usually a parent or teacher. That statement then gets communicated to a law enforcement official and their investigation begins. At some point the child should be interviewed by a forensic psychologist, and that interview is often the most significant piece of evidence presented in the case. But just because there is an outcry from a child, doesn’t mean the case cannot be defended. Children can mimic their parents and older siblings and make statements that aren’t always factual for many reasons. They are prone to suggestion and sometimes coercion by family and friends.

It is important for a defense attorney to get involved early in these cases. Relationships have to be examined. Motives must be found. The Law Offices of W Scott Smith specialize in handling child molestation cases and investigations. Call us today at 404-581-0999 to discuss your case. There is no time to wait in protecting your freedom.