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Dealing With Loitering or Prowling Charges: How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Learn about loitering or prowling charges in Marietta, including legal definitions, penalties, and how The Waltman Firm can help defend your rights.

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Loitering or Prowling Charges: Understanding the Differences and Consequences

Loitering and prowling occur when a person’s presence and conduct cause justifiable and reasonable alarm to persons or property in the vicinity. While loitering alone may seem harmless, local laws and state statutes may criminalize such behavior. Prowling, on the other hand, generally means to move about a place stealthily.

In Georgia, it is considered unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place at an unusual time or in a manner that is unusual for law-abiding individuals, warranting justifiable and reasonable alarm or an immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity. This means that if an individual behaves in a way perceived as suspicious or threatening, they may be charged with loitering or prowling.

At The Waltman Firm in Marietta, we know that criminal charges can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. Often, “suspicious conduct” can have a reasonable explanation. Georgia residents need to understand the nature of this offense, the potential consequences of being convicted, and possible defenses.

If you’ve been charged with criminal activity, seeking immediate legal representation is essential to ensuring your rights are protected and your case is adequately defended. Please schedule a consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney today.

What Is Loitering or Prowling?

Georgia law defines loitering or prowling as “lingering, remaining, or wandering about in a place at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals.” The offense of loitering and prowling is a misdemeanor if it creates reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity of the accused.

Circumstances that could lead to a loitering or prowling arrest under OCGA § 16-11-36 include:

  • Lingering in a public place without any apparent purpose.
  • Remaining in a public place for an extended period of time.
  • Wandering around a public place without any apparent purpose.
  • Being in a place at a time that is unusual or suspicious.
  • If a person takes flight after being confronted.

If a person is suspected of loitering or prowling, police may ask the individual to explain their suspicious conduct. While you may wish to dispel alarm or immediate concern, it is critical to remember that your words and behavior could still be misconstrued. You may wish to remain silent and contact an attorney, even if you are not yet placed under arrest.

Penalties and Consequences of Loitering and Prowling

If you are found guilty of loitering or prowling, you could face serious legal consequences, including fines, jail time, and a criminal record.

If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor in Georgia, you can be punished by:

  • 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Additionally, a conviction for loitering or prowling can result in a criminal record. The consequences of a record can cause challenges in finding employment, housing, obtaining credit, and strain on relationships.

Moreover, the consequences of a loitering or prowling conviction can be more severe for individuals with prior criminal records. Prior criminal conviction can sometimes result in enhanced penalties, like longer jail sentences and higher fines.

It is critical to understand that every criminal case is unique. The specific penalties and consequences of a loitering or prowling conviction will depend on various factors, including the circumstances of the offense, the individual’s criminal history, and the strength of the prosecution’s case.

If you have been charged with loitering or prowling in Georgia, seeking advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney can be vital. A criminal lawyer can help you understand the charges against you, your legal rights, plea options, and available defenses.

Defending Against Loitering or Prowling Charges

When facing loitering or prowling charges, assistance from a knowledgeable criminal attorney can help you build a strong defense strategy. At The Waltman Firm, we understand the complexities of the loitering and prowling cases. Our loitering and prowling attorney is committed to providing our clients with an aggressive defense.

Frequently, the prosecution’s claim that the defendant loitered is based on circumstantial evidence. The burden is on the prosecution to show that the defendant’s presence at a location was a cause for alarm or immediate concern. A skilled criminal defense attorney can show there is reasonable doubt.

Other common defenses used in loitering and prowling cases include:

  • Arresting police officer’s failure to follow procedure
  • Lack of probable cause for an arrest

Furthermore, loitering or prowling charges can be highly subjective, and what may seem suspicious to one law enforcement officer may not be to another. Therefore, it is crucial to have an attorney who can challenge the subjective nature of the charges.

At The Waltman Firm, we have experience defending clients against loitering and prowling charges. We are ready to assist you if you need a criminal defense lawyer in Marietta, GA. Attorney Holly Waltman will work tirelessly to build a strong defense and protect your rights.

Contact The Waltman Firm Today

If you have been charged with loitering or prowling in Marietta, Georgia, seeking legal representation right away is critical. At The Waltman Firm, we understand the severe nature of these charges and the impact they can have on your life.

As an experienced criminal defense lawyer, Holly Waltman is committed to providing personalized legal strategies for her clients. As a former prosecutor, she has an in-depth understanding of the Georgia criminal justice system and has successfully defended countless clients facing a variety of criminal charges.

Attorney Waltman works tirelessly to protect her clients’ rights and ensure each case receives the attention it deserves. We can analyze the evidence against you, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your case.

At The Waltman Firm, we are dedicated to providing our clients with diligent legal representation. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial. We fight to protect our client’s rights and get justice.

If you have been charged with loitering or prowling, don’t hesitate to contact our criminal defense lawyer in Marietta now. Schedule your consultation to get the guidance and support you need during this difficult time.