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Criminal Defense in Georgia FAQ

Your local attorney provides answers to criminal defense in Georgia FAQs.
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What Is Criminal Defense?

Being arrested and facing criminal charges can be one of the most stressful situations in your life. Under the United States Constitution, every individual has the right to certain protections involving the right to hire a criminal defense attorney, a fair trial, and the right to know the charges and evidence against them.

A criminal conviction can result in serious prison time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and probation. It can also negatively affect your reputation, future employment, and housing. Since so much is at stake, getting effective legal representation with a top-notch criminal defense strategy would be wise.

We at The Waltman Firm believe that every individual, regardless of what they have been accused of, deserves to be defended. However, if you have already been convicted of the crime, don’t despair: a post-conviction attorney may be able to have your sentence modified or obtain another type of post-conviction relief.

What Are the Four Categories of Criminal Defenses?

Usually, there are four defense strategies that Georgia criminal defense lawyers use: constitutional violations, innocence, self-defense, and insanity. However, which strategy an attorney would use depends on the case. For instance, the arresting officer in Georgia must read the defendant’s Miranda rights. Failure to do that can make a sound basis for a constitutional violation defense.

What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Georgia?

A criminal charge in Georgia can be a misdemeanor or a felony based on the severity of the penalty. Additionally, Georgia criminal law distinguishes between a misdemeanor case and a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, which can affect the person’s penalty.

Misdemeanors are heard in the state or municipal court, and the judge often resolves the case. Penalties for Georgia misdemeanors can include fines and up to 12 months in the county jail.

That’s why facing misdemeanor charges without a good misdemeanor lawyer is a mistake.

Felony charges can result in the individual being sentenced to a prison time exceeding a year and up to life in prison or the death penalty. Felonies are heard in the superior court, and since the punishment can be so grave, having a felony lawyer is highly recommended.

Although it is widely considered that misdemeanors are less severe than felonies, don’t be fooled! They are both equally severe and can make the rest of your life much worse.

Sometimes, first-time offenders are eligible for a diversion program, which can entail paying fees and community service while avoiding jail time. If successfully finished, the judge can have the offender’s case dismissed. But, only a competent attorney would know to deal with the charges successfully and avoid the worst-case scenario.

What Happens After an Arrest in Georgia?

After being arrested and taken to jail, the police officer will take you to the booking area. Your personal information and fingerprints will be taken, as well as a mugshot photo. You will also be allowed to make a phone call.

The first appearance before a judge is typically called an “initial appearance.” At that time, the judge will read the charges and inform the defendant they have a right to hire an attorney and remain silent.

If a reasonable bond is not set and the defendant is not released on their own recognizance, then the case will advance to a probable cause hearing. A magistrate judge will evaluate evidence from the prosecution and defense and decide if probable cause that a crime has been committed exists. If there is not enough evidence, the case can get dismissed, but if there is, the criminal court process advances further.

The defendant will be formally charged at the arraignment and has to plead guilty or not guilty. The purpose of this step is to prepare motions that can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. A criminal defense attorney should know what to do in order to help avoid a conviction.

How Much Jail Time for Criminal Offense in Georgia?

How much time an individual would spend in jail or prison depends on several factors, including the type of crime they are accused of, their criminal record, as well as other circumstances of the crime. Potential jail time for all misdemeanors in Georgia is up to a year. On the other hand, potential prison sentences for felony crimes in Georgia range from a year to the death penalty. For example, a person convicted of aggravated assault could spend 1 to 20 years in prison.

Although the judges have broad discretion when determining a sentence, certain crimes carry mandatory minimum prison time. For instance, the person charged with trafficking illegal drugs may face a mandatory minimum prison sentence, so consulting with a drug crimes attorney can be beneficial to these cases.

If you have more questions regarding a Georgia criminal case, take a look at our list of frequently asked questions. If you are still confused, call us at 770-284-8130 and let us help you.

What Is an Affirmative Defense in Criminal Law?

An affirmative defense means the defendant practically admits they have committed a criminal act they are charged with but seeks excuses for their behavior. These types of defenses in criminal law don’t attack elements of the crime but rather justify committed criminal acts.

What Percentage of All Criminal Cases Uses the Insanity Defense in Georgia?

The insanity defense is an example of an affirmative defense. It argues that the defendant is not responsible for their actions because of a mental illness and a lack of mental capacity to fully comprehend their actions and consequences.

According to one eight-state study, less than 1% of defendants pleaded insanity despite public perception to the contrary. Of that percent, only a quarter won acquittals.

What Is White Collar Criminal Defense?

Although white-collar crimes are non-violent offenses committed for financial gain, that doesn’t mean they are not treated seriously. These crimes can be charged either as misdemeanors or felonies. Also, they can be prosecuted in a state or federal court. This fact alone, along with severe potential penalties involving long prison sentences and harsh fines, should indicate that hiring a skilled attorney can be necessary.

Don’t think, even for a second, that police officers or the federal government won’t thoroughly investigate these crimes. Wasting even a minute could cost you a lot, so hiring a pre-arrest criminal investigation lawyer and establishing an attorney-client relationship to help you deal with the situation can be highly beneficial to your case.

What Is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice refers to the procedures, laws, and institutions involved before, during, and after a crime is committed. It can also express the idea that criminal conduct should be prosecuted and punished according to state or federal law.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

The job of Georgia criminal defense lawyers includes researching facts and investigating cases that state prosecutors have against their clients. They can question witnesses and hire different experts who can help them defend the client.

A defense attorney can also try to negotiate a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office if they consider it the most appropriate course of action. The plea negotiations can include reduced charges and sentences, as well as reduced bail.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in Georgia?

The cost of a criminal defense lawyer in Georgia can vary greatly, depending on many factors, such as the charges involved, whether the case is prosecuted by the federal or state court and the complexity of the case itself.

Some criminal defense lawyers want their legal fees paid in segments, so the total fee would depend on how far the criminal case has to be taken until a favorable resolution is reached. Every case is different; sometimes, it can take less time to prepare a murder case than a complex DUI case.

How Do You Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

There are many things to ponder when choosing a criminal defense attorney. Consider hiring a criminal defense attorney you can talk to openly, who has handled cases in the court where your case is pending, and who is experienced with criminal charges you are facing.

Criminal law is complex, so many criminal defense lawyers handle only certain offenses. That’s why if a minor is facing criminal charges, you should seek a juvenile defense attorney, not the one who helped you write your last will and testament.

The Waltman Firm has an excellent track record, especially when individuals are charged with criminal offenses. Let parole lawyer help you and fight for your rights.