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Possession of Edibles in Georgia

In the past ten years, thanks to the decriminalization and legalization in other states, the possession and consumption of marijuana has changed drastically. Beyond just your typical green leafy marijuana, there are chocolates, gummy bears, hard candies, drinks, waxes, resins, oils, creams, and other substances used to intake THC into your body. 

Misdemeanor or Felony?

In Georgia, possession of green leafy marijuana  is a misdemeanor if you possess under an ounce. Possession of over an ounce of green, leafy marijuana is a felony. But what most people do not know is that possession of any other product that has THC in it that is not green, leafy marijuana is a felony. It doesn’t matter that the edible, weed cartridge, wax or other substance was under an ounce. It doesn’t matter if it was only one brownie, or gummy bear, or cartridge. It’s a felony in violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (VGCSA). On top of that, if the THC is baked into a brownie, or in a beverage, officers use the entire weight of the substance to determine weight, and not just the part of it that has THC in it. These substances are heavy and can hit Possession with Intent and Trafficking levels quickly.

It’s important that you know the laws in Georgia.

Officers are now trained to look for substances beyond green, leafy marijuana. They are looking for cartridges. They are looking for edibles. They are looking for distinct smells given off by concentrated marijuana products. Five years ago we saw very few if any arrests for these weed products. But over the past year, we are seeing more and more clients come in and tell us, “He found my cartridges.” Or “They went looking straight for my wax.”

Our office has been on the forefront of this shift in marijuana products in Georgia. Our team of educated and knowledgeable attorneys can help you find defenses to your felony weed charges. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Elder Abuse in Georgia

As Georgia’s senior citizen population has increased, and as more and more of them are victims of crimes, Georgia legislature has enacted tough penalties for criminal defendants charged with Elder Abuse.

Most District Attorney’s office in Georgia have designated Elder Abuse prosecutors. If you are charged with Elder Abuse, it is vital that you take the charges seriously and prepare yourself to defend them.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder Abuse can be charged when the victim is 65 years or older. O.C.G.A. 16-5-100(4).

There are 4 specific types of Elder Abuse in Georgia.

  • Neglect – When a guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized. O.C.G.A. 16-5-101(a)

With neglect, the conduct of the defendant has to be willful and not just negligent. If you are charged with Neglect in an Elder Abuse case, it is imperative that you do not make any statements and hire an attorney as soon as possible. The potential punishment for Neglect in an Elder Abuse case is 20 years in prison and a $ 50,000 fine. We have seen an increase each year in the number of prosecutions of Neglect in Elder Abuse cases.

  • Exploit – Any person who knowingly and willfully exploits, willfully inflicts physical pain or injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish or unreasonable confinement; or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elderly person or resident.

Exploitation cases involving elderly citizens compose the majority of the cases. The statute broadly describes ways in which you can be charged with Elder abuse. The potential punishment for Exploiting an Elder is 20 years in prison and a $ 50,000 fine.

  • Intimidate – Any person who threatens, intimidates, or attempts to intimidate a disabled person, elder person or resident can be charged with Elder Abuse.

In cases of intimidation, words matter. Prosecutors take these cases very seriously. The potential punishment for a case of intimidation of an elder is 1 year in prison and a $ 5,000 fine.

  • Obstruct – Any person who willfully or knowingly obstructs or in any way impedes an investigation conducted pursuant to 5 of Title 30 or Article 4 of Chapter 8 of Title 31.

In cases where you are alleged to have obstructed an investigation, the potential punishment is 1 year in prison and a $ 5,000 fine.

One area that is frequently asked of us is if a person who works at a long-term care facility is subject to prosecution in Elder Abuse cases due to the actions of someone else who works there. The answer is no unless you were a knowing and willful participant to or a conspirator in the abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Call us today!

If you are charged with Elder Abuse, you need to take it seriously. The prosecutor you are up against likely only handles Elder Abuse cases and the prosecutor will be well prepared.

Please call us at 404-581-0999 or email me at mike@peachstatelawyer.com anytime for a free consultation.

Airport Marijuana Trafficking

The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world. Thousands of travelers pass through every day for business and pleasure alike. It is a hub for nearly every major airline, flying passengers to the four corners of the world.

On High Alert for Drugs

Due to the high volume of flights and passengers, airport security, TSA agents, FBI Agents, Clayton County Police Department, Atlanta Police Department and the US Drug Enforcement Agency are trained to spot and act quickly on any suspected criminal behavior. We often get calls regarding drugs or weapons found in passengers’ luggage. Marijuana charges and in particular trafficking in marijuana are incredibly common at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, especially from flights out of Arizona, California and Colorado.

What Happens To My Bag?

Your bag that contains marijuana is brought from underneath the plane and directed to baggage claim at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. While you exit and make your way to the next terminal or to pick up your bags, the luggage is subjected to a K-9 Unit search. Courts have continually determined that using canines at the airport is lawful, and their actions are not considered searches under the 14th Amendment (United States v. Place) as long as the bag is not opened or searched before the dog alerts on the luggage. Law enforcement have probable cause to search your bag if a dog alerts the agent that marijuana is present. Once they find the drugs, they will detain you and likely charge you with trafficking marijuana.

Where Will My Case Be?

If you are charged, you will be sent to the Clayton County Jail, and the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office will handle your prosecution in Superior Court. At this point, it is imperative that you seek out representation to move forward and get out of jail quickly. We have years of experience in Clayton County handling various charges, including those involving incidents at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport.  Recently we have been very successful in arranging a bond on Trafficking at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Call us today for your free consultation at 404-581-0999. We will hear the details of your case and provide you with legal advice that could save your freedom.

Child Molestation Charges: What To Do

If you or a loved one is arrested for child molestation in Georgia, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence.

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Child molestation charges are aggressively prosecuted in Georgia and prosecutors and the police believe children who make the accusations.

Make sure your attorney has had jury trials in child molestation cases and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle these cases.

The law may say you are presumed innocent but in child molestation cases, you have to prove your innocence.

The Steps

Here is what you should do if arrested for child molestation:

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries child molestation cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle child molestation cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles child molestation cases in Georgia.
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the police department and profess your innocence. The police will not believe you. Do not think you can show up at your first court date and tell the prosecutor and judge that you are innocent and expect the charges to be dropped. If you are arrested for child molestation, you have to start preparing for your jury trial. Do not make any statements to anyone except your lawyer.
  3. Start gathering important evidence
    • Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession that might relate to the child making the accusation. This includes clothing, photos, video or any other tangible object.
    • Gather and preserve any documents that might relate to this accusation including emails, texts, social media, phone records, GPS records, computer records or any other document that might show where you were when this incident allegedly occurred.
    • Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this child molestation accusation. Do not discuss the case with this person but pass this list of potential witnesses to your attorney and let your attorney contact them.

What NOT To Do when Charged with Child Molestation

Here is what you should never do if arrested for child molestation:

  1. Never talk to the alleged victim or the family.
  2. Never have any contact with the alleged victim through a 3rd party or through social media.
  3. Never talk to law enforcement without an attorney present.
  4. Never talk to a child welfare agency or any other governmental agency without an attorney present.

Call us TODAY

If you are arrested for child molestation or any sex offense in Georgia, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999 or send us an email at mike@peachstatelawyer.com. We will sit down with you and fully discuss your case and what to expect in court. There is no charge for the initial consultation. You will only retain us if you feel we are the best law firm to represent you. It is your case and your life so you need to hire the lawyer that you feel gives you the best chance to win.

DUI: Blood Alcohol Concentration

This blog article serves to discuss how Georgia law handles varying Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels, from 0.00% to 0.08% and beyond.

BAC of 0.05% or Less

If a chemical test of your blood or breath falls within this range, then the law[1]provides the defense with a presumption of non-impairment. This means the trier of fact (judge or jury) is entitled to infer that the defendant is not impaired based on this low alcohol concentration. This presumption of non-impairment, may however, be rebutted by the prosecution. Typically, this is done through presenting evidence of “bad driving” (accident, traffic violation, etc.), or through other manifestations associated with alcohol impairment. If your blood alcohol comes back in an amount this low, a skilled DUI lawyer should be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced.

BAC Greater than 0.05%  but Less than 0.08%

In this situation, the law provides no inference the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol. This BAC range is treated as neutral territory, it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help either. Again, this evidence is to be taken into consideration with other competent evidence determining impairment.

BAC Greater 0.08% or More

A BAC of 0.08 grams or greater amounts to a per se violation of the DUI statute. This means the law automatically deems you impaired, regardless of alcohol tolerance. For this reason, it is imperative defense counsel do anything possible to eliminate this BAC number from being introduced at trial. And if the BAC is admitted at trial, the defense lawyer is tasked with casting doubt on the validity of the BAC result. This can be accomplished through effective cross-examination, employment of an expert witness, and a thorough investigation of the case.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.


[1] O.C.G.A. § 40-6-392(b)(1)

Theft by Receiving Stolen Firearm

  Under § OCGA 16-8-7, a person commits the offense of theft by receiving stolen property when he receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property which he knows or should know was stolen.” If the item in question is less than $1,500, it is a misdemeanor, meaning the maximum punishment that someone can receive is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If the item reportedly stolen and possessed is worth more than $1,500, then that person will be charged with a felony. The punishment in that situation can be anywhere from 1 to 10 years in prison.

What’s my defense for stolen firearm?

    If you or a loved one has been charged with this offense, know that there are defenses in Georgia law. Possession of stolen property, alone, will not warrant a criminal conviction that will be carried forever. The State must prove knowledge that the item was stolen.  This knowledge, however, can be inferred from the circumstances, specifically if the circumstances would create suspicion it was stolen in the mind of an ordinarily prudent person.

If the item in question is a firearm, the crime will automatically be charged as a felony carrying 1 to 5 years in prison if convicted. The good news is courts have ruled in defendants’ favor in various situations. For example, it is insufficient to prove the person knew the gun was stolen just because it was bought on the street at a reduced price. Additionally, even if the gun is labeled for Law Enforcement use, this too is also insufficient for a criminal conviction for this charge.        

We can help!

     The attorneys of W. Scott Smith have handled numerous Theft by Receiving charges all over the state of Georgia, many of which involved stolen firearms. Because this is a felony charge, it is imperative to have attorneys on your side familiar with the law and defenses.  Call us today with your questions on Theft by Receiving Stolen Firearm. We offer FREE CONSULTATIONS at 404-581-0999.

by Mary Agramonte

Your Case in Municipal Court of Atlanta

There’s no better firm out there for assistance with your upcoming case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta. Our team of highly trained attorneys has been practicing in the Municipal Court of Atlanta building relationships with the prosecutors and judges for as long as they’ve been at 150 Garnett Street.

What does MCOA handle?

The City Court of Atlanta handles almost every traffic citation occurring inside the city limits of Atlanta along with marijuana, shoplifting, and disorderly conduct charges. They also handle all city ordinance charges which involve business license issues, property issues, and some personal citations like disorderly conduct under the influence. There are eleven active courtrooms in the courthouse and most courtrooms have court twice a day.

A case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta has multiple ways it can be resolved. Unlike other municipal courts where your options are guilty or not guilty, the Municipal Court of Atlanta offers pre-trial diversion on a number of traffic and criminal charges, along with other alternative disposition methods if you qualify.

Did you miss court? There might be a warrant out for your arrest? Hiring an attorney may allow you to lift the warrant without appearing in court and risking potential arrest.

Do I need an attorney?

Skilled attorneys can appear in court on your behalf, speed up the process of resolving your charge(s), and negotiate resolutions that a non-attorney may not be able to obtain. It is important that before you resolve your case in the City of Atlanta you give our office a call to discuss potential outcomes and ways we can assist you. The consolation is free, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

by Ryan Walsh

DUI: License Suspension

How can my license to drive be suspended administratively and again if I am convicted of DUI? 

This is a good question.  Georgia law thinks of driving as a privilege and not a right.  On the administrative end, the law provides the Department of Driver Services (hereafter “DDS”) may take your license (viewed as a privilege) if there is a showing that you were more likely than not driving under the influence.  This standard of proof is much lower than in a criminal case where the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Where does license suspension begin?

The administrative license suspension (ALS) process begins when the arresting officer takes your driver’s license and issues you a “1205 Form” which acts as a 45 day driving permit upon a DUI arrest. DDS must receive a copy of the 1205 Form from law enforcement before a hearing can be scheduled or a limited driving permit can be issued.

Despite the arrest, the driver’s license is still valid until DDS receives the 1205 Form and 45 days have passed since the 1205 Form was served. The suspension is “pending” once DDS receives the 1205 form until the outcome of the administrative hearing.  Once DDS receives the 1205 Form this 45 day driving permit will take effect and your driver’s license status will remain “pending.” This 45 day permit can be extended if the OSAH hearing is not held within 45 days. There are no limited driving restrictions with respect to this 45 day permit.

What are my options?

There are two approaches to dealing with an administrative license suspension: (1) request a hearing to appeal the suspension; or (2) elect to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. 

DDS must receive the request for a hearing within 30 actual days (not business days) of the service of the 1205 Form. The hearing request must contain a $150 filing fee, the correct date of the arrest or incident, and the correct name of the driver, date of birth, and driver’s license number. Incorrect information could delay the hearing or cause a delayed suspension. Once the hearing request letter is received, your driver’s license will not go into suspension until you are afforded the ALS hearing before the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH).

What happens at the hearing?

If you requested a hearing, the DDS will send you and your attorney a notice of a hearing date, time and location.  The officer who stopped you is required to testify in front of an administrative law judge. The scope of the hearing is limited to the following:      

  • (A) Whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for violating Code Section 40-6-391; or
  •   (B) Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and
  •       (C) Whether at the time of the request for the test or tests the officer informed the person of the person’s implied consent rights and the consequence of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and
  •       (D) Whether the person refused the test; or
  •       (E) Whether a test or tests were administered and the results indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more or, for a person under the age of 21, an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more or, for a person operating or having actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more; and
  •    
      (F) Whether the test or tests were properly administered by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on an instrument approved by the Division of Forensic Sciences or a test conducted by the Division of Forensic Sciences, including whether the machine at the time of the test was operated with all its electronic and operating components prescribed by its manufacturer properly attached and in good working order, which shall be required. A copy of the operator’s permit showing that the operator has been trained on the particular type of instrument used and one of the original copies of the test results or, where the test is performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences, a copy of the crime lab report shall satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph.

If the judge believes the officer legally satisfied the aforementioned requirements, your license shall be suspended.

What if I lose the ALS hearing?

If you took the requested test, your breath/blood results were over .08, and you lose the ALS hearing:

Your license/privilege to drive will be suspended for 1 year; however, after 30 days from the effective date of suspension, you may apply for reinstatement of your license, provided you do the following:

  1. 1. Submit an original certificate of completion of an approved DUI Alcohol/Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;
  2. 2. Remit a $210.00 restoration fee (or $200.00 if reinstatement is processed for by mail).

This suspension will not age off, but will remain active until you have completed the requirements listed above.[1]

If this is your first DUI in the last five years, you may be eligible for a Non-Ignition Interlock limited driving permit.[2] Your license must be under suspension (lose ALS hearing or no request for hearing is made). These types of limited permits are issued at DDS locations and are renewable in 30 day increments. They’re also referred to as “ALS Permits.”

What if I refused to take the requested test and lose the ALS hearing?

If you refused to take the State’s breath test, your license/privilege to drive in Georgia shall be suspended for one year.  You will not be eligible for a temporary/limited driving permit.  The suspension ages off at the end of 1 year.

What if you request a hearing but the officer never submits the 1205 Form to DDS?

Georgia law requires the officer to submit the 1205 Form to DDS within 10 days of serving you with notice.[3] If the 1205 Form is not received, OSAH will send you a 91 day letter stating they have not received the 1205 Form. You will be entitled to a refund of your $150 filing fee. You must request the refund through the DDS form.[4] In addition, the 1205 Temporary Driving Permit Extension is no longer valid. As a result, you can obtain a new driver’s license from DDS so long as you indicate on your application for new license that your previous license was taken by an officer.

The Ignition Interlock Device Permit Approach[5]

The issuance of an “Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit”, is conditioned upon you waiving your right to an administrative hearing and having an ignition interlock device installed your vehicle.  The current ALS process, including the right to an administrative hearing, will remain in place as an option if you do not qualify for or do not wish to obtain this type of permit.     

In addition to waiving your right to an administrative hearing and having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, you must also meet the following conditions:

  • Application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the ALS by the arresting officer through the DS-1205 form, or—in the event of a DS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS;
  • The ALS cannot stem from a motor vehicle accident involving fatalities or serious injuries;
  • You must be licensed in Georgia and not have any other suspensions, cancellations, or revocations against his or her Georgia driver’s license;
  • If you hold a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL), you must downgrade to a non-commercial Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain and maintain the permit;
  • You cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit;
  • You must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the arresting officer at time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and,
  • You must pay a $25.00 permit fee.

The period of time in which you must successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle depends on whether you consented to or refusedS the state-administered chemical test requested by the arresting officer.

Consent v. Refusal

A person who consents to the state-administered chemical test and opts for the new permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 4 months.  If you are subsequently acquitted of the underlying DUI charge, or the underlying DUI charge is dismissed or reduced, the ignition interlock restriction may be removed at no cost and the driver’s license may be replaced.  The decision as to whether a fee is charged for removal of the ignition interlock device from your vehicle under such circumstances will be at the discretion of the device provider. A person who refused the state-administered chemical test and opted for the Ignition Interlock permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 12 months, regardless of the outcome of the underlying DUI charge.   

Successful maintenance of the ignition interlock device must be evidenced by the permit holder to DDS through the production of satisfactory monthly monitoring reports prior to DDS removing the ignition interlock restriction from the permit.  A permit may be renewed for a fee of $5.00 if additional time is needed for the permit holder to comply with the terms of the ignition interlock device, but it may only be renewed one time once the permit holder becomes eligible to reinstate his or her driver’s license. Following the designated term of successful compliance, the ignition interlock device restriction may be removed from the limited driving permit in person at a DDS customer service center for a fee of $100.00 (or $90.00 if removal of the restriction is requested by mail or other approved alternate means).  The removal fee is in addition to any reinstatement fee that may be required.

Driver’s License Suspension Under Criminal Law

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-63 provides for the terms and conditions governing the driver’s license suspension for any person convicted of DUI. Upon the first conviction, the suspension period is for 12 months. Like we saw before, after 120 days, you may apply to DDS for a reinstatement of your driver’s license (upon proof of Risk Reduction and restoration fee, discussed above).

Upon a second DUI conviction in the last five years (measured from the date of arrest), the suspension period is three years. You can still apply for reinstatement but would not be eligible for reinstatement until after ten months (as opposed to 120 days).

Upon a third conviction within the last five years, you will be considered a habitual violator and your driver’s license shall be revoked.

Periods of suspension under this code section begin on the date you are convicted of the offense. It is important to note that suspension time pursuant to an Administrative License Suspension under to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1 shall be counted toward fulfillment of any period of suspension subsequently imposed as a result of a conviction of violating O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 which arises out of the same violation for which the Administrative License Suspension was imposed. O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.2(b). For example, if your license was suspended for 6 months after an adverse ALS hearing and you are ultimately convicted of DUI, then you will receive credit for those six months towards time your license is to be suspended as a result of the conviction.

Call Us Today

If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.           


[1] Suspension time pursuant to an Administrative License Suspension pursuant to O.C.G.A. §40-5-67.1 shall be counted toward fulfillment of any period of suspension subsequently imposed as a result of a conviction of violating O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 which arises out of the same violation for which the Administrative License Suspension was imposed. O.C.G.A. Code Section 40-5-67.2(b).

[2] O.C.G.A. § 40-5-64

[3] O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1

[4] https://dds.georgia.gov/documents/refund-request-form

[5] The information contained in this section is taken from DDS’ website: https://dds.georgia.gov/press-releases/2017-06-27/new-ignition-interlock-device-limited-permit-available-july-1st-updated

Robbery by Sudden Snatching

Robbery or Burglary?

It is not uncommon for people to use “robbery” and “burglary” interchangeably. For example, a person enters their home to discovery it’s been ransacked. They might exclaim, “I’ve been robbed!” That exclamation is inaccurate under Georgia law. In Georgia, that person is a victim of burglary, not robbery, because Georgia defines burglary as entering, or remaining in, a building without authority with the intent to commit a felony.

Robbery on the other hand contemplates taking property from the person or immediate presence of another with intent to commit theft. There are three types of robbery in Georgia: robbery by force, intimidation or threat of violence, and sudden snatching. I will review all three flavors in future blog posts, but for now let’s review sudden snatching.

Robbery by Snatching Scenario

When I think of robbery by sudden snatching, I picture an elderly woman walking along a city sidewalk with her purse. Suddenly, her purse is snatched off her shoulder by a swift offender. The offender does not use any force to take the purse from her; he merely snatches it off her person.

The lack of force employed to secure the purse highlights a key distinction between robbery by force and sudden snatching. If the elderly woman resisted and the offender used force by, say, pushing her to the ground to take her purse, then the offender committed robbery by force, not sudden snatching. Sudden snatching literally means taking the purse without any use of force.

A Key Distinction

Another key element of robbery by sudden snatching is that the victim must be conscious of the theft before it is completed. Say the elderly woman walking down the street does not realize the offender snatched her purse from her person, and only realizes her purse is missing when she attempts to pay the fee at her dry cleaners later that afternoon. As the offender’s attorney, I would argue the offender could not be prosecuted for robbery by sudden snatching because the victim was not aware of the theft when it happened. The offender may be guilty of theft by taking (because theft by taking does not require the victim to be conscious of the theft before it is completed), but he is not guilty of robbery by sudden snatching.

If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery contact our office today for a free consultation. We will be happy to walk through your goals and inform you of the various defenses that can be implemented for your case.

by Sarah Armstrong

Theft by Receiving

Everyone knows you can be arrested, and subsequently prosecuted, for taking something that doesn’t belong to you. But what about receivingsomething that doesn’t belong to you?

What Does This Mean?

Yep, you can be arrested for that, too. Welcome to the world of theft by receiving. Under Georgia law, you can be arrested for “receiving, disposing of, or retaining stolen property”. Sounds straight forward, right? But here’s the catch: the State has to prove that you (the accused) knewor should have known the property was stolen and that you did not intend to give the property back to its rightful owner.

Confusing? Let me explain using two hypothetical scenarios.

iPhone Gift

Your significant other gives you a present for your 3 month anniversary. Inside the wrapped package is the iPhone you’ve dropped not-so-subtle hints about wanting for your anniversary. Although grateful for the gesture, you’re a bit confused about why the iPhone isn’t in Apple factory packaging. Your significant other assures you they took it out of the box so it would fit in the gift box they wrapped for you.

A few weeks later your significant other is taken into custody on multiple theft by taking warrants. Turns out they’ve been involved in an iPhone theft ring the entire time you’ve been dating. The State then executes a theft by receiving warrant for your arrest because you have one of the stolen iPhones.

At trial,the prosecutor seeks to present evidence that you knew or should have known the iPhone was stolen. Pursuant to case law, they point to “circumstance[(s) that]would excite suspicion in the mind of an ordinary person.”[1]They’ll point out to the jury that the iPhone was not in factory packaging when you received it and, after all, how could you not have known your significant other was involved in a theft ring?

What’s My Defense?

As your attorney my primary defense on your behalf would be that you simply did not know the iPhone was stolen.Moreover, the circumstances do not indicate that you should have known the iPhone was stolen. You assumed they purchased the phone with their own money because your significant other is gainfully employed. They also explained away the iPhone not being in factory packaging as a consequence of fitting in the gift box. Most importantly, you have only been dating for three months, so you ultimately did not know them well enough to discover their criminal activity.

Used Car Purchase

After being found not guilty of theft by receiving the iPhone you decide to treat yourself by purchasing a car. You’re on a budget, so you’re looking for a well-maintained used car. After browsing listings on Autotrader, you decide to check one out in person. The car is perfect: low mileage, clean, even has that new car smell. The only weird thing is that the car is missing a VIN. But you found the car on Autotrader and it’s at a dealership, so you conclude it must be legitimate. Besides, you reallywant this car.

Shoving your suspicions aside, you decide to buy the car. Soon after rolling it off the lot you spy a police car in your rear-view mirror. Its blue lights activate within seconds. You pull off to the shoulder, totally confused as to why you’re being stopped.The police officer approaches your rolled-down window and asks if you’re aware the vehicle you’re driving has been reported stolen. You tell him you had no idea, but he takes you in to custody anyway on a theft by receiving warrant.

Telling the jury you didn’t know the car was stolen is not a convincing defense this time around. The jury finds you guilty on the basis you should have known the car was stolen because the car didn’t have a VIN when you purchased it. Here, knowledge of stolen property is inferred by circumstances that “excite suspicion in the mind of an ordinary person”.[2]

Don’t Take It!

Moral of the story: do not buy or keep anything you think could have been stolen because,even if you did not steal it yourself, you could be arrested for merely possessing stolen property.

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft by receiving contact our office today for a free consultation. We can help you fight your charges.

by Sarah Armstrong 


[1] Thomas v. State, 270 Ga.App. 181, 606 S.E.2d 275 (2004).

[2] Id.