FAQ

Aggravated Assault and Battery

An experienced aggravated assault attorney can help you beat your aggravated assault and battery charges. Your lawyer will know what to look for, what questions to ask, and the best defense to mount against your charges.

For example, an aggravated battery charge may not hold up if the injury sustained as a result of the incident is not severe enough to constitute aggravated battery or evidence is presented that the accused acted in self-defense.

A conviction for aggravated assault or aggravated battery also requires that the defendant have acted maliciously, and without justification. Therefore, a defense could be based on the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the incident or on a justification for their actions.

Aggravated assault may be justified by the reasonable belief that you were preventing harm to yourself or others greater than the harm you inflicted. Many people who are charged with aggravated assault seek to prove that they acted in self-defense. Self-defense can justify your actions, and keep you from an aggravated assault conviction. An experienced aggravated assault attorney can help you build your defense.

ALS Hearings & License Suspensions

  • If your administrative license suspension was the result of failing a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for at least 30 days, if this is a first offense. During that time, you can attend a Georgia DUI school. Once completed, you can apply for a license reinstatement, with a reinstatement fee of $210, and obtain a restricted license after 30 days.
  • If your automatic license suspension was the result of refusing to take a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for 12 months with no limited driving privileges allowed.

If your license is suspended or revoked, you should contact a skilled, and competent DUI, and DUI refusal lawyer to discuss all the options available to you. This consultation needs to happen before the 30-day window to appeal the suspension expires.

There are several ways your driving privileges can be impacted: suspension, revocation, and cancellation.

Suspension means that your driving privileges have been suspended temporarily. Once the applicable suspension period expires, your driving privileges will be reinstated upon application.

Revocation means that your license to drive has been revoked. In order to legally drive again, you must apply to the Georgia Department of Driver Services to get a new driver’s license, and retake all the driving tests.

A cancellation means that your driver’s license has been canceled as a result of incomplete or inaccurate information supplied on your driver’s license application. You can reapply with a complete, and accurate application.

If your automatic license suspension was the result of failing a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for at least 30 days, depending on whether this is a first offense. During that time, you can attend a Georgia DUI school. Once completed, you can apply for a license reinstatement, with a reinstatement fee of $210, and obtain a restricted license after 30 days.

If your automatic license suspension was the result of refusing to take a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for 12 months with no limited driving privileges allowed.

Georgia’s Implied Consent law requires you to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances in order to determine you are DUI. Police officers must read the Implied Consent Warning when arresting an individual being arrested for DUI refusal. An officer’s failure to properly read the Implied Consent warning can result in dismissal of a DUI case.

Only the State-administered breath test—the Intoxilyzer 9000—or giving a blood or urine sample at the police station are required as a condition of having a driver’s license in Georgia. You are under no legal obligation to submit to an Alco-Sensor breath test, a handheld breath test, or a field sobriety test roadside.

An Alco-Sensor breath test only measures if there is any alcohol present on your breath. It cannot measure other intoxicants besides alcohol. Getting a positive reading on an Alco-Sensor test is not evidence of intoxication, and cannot be admitted in court. Police use it as a screening method upon stopping a driver.

A handheld breath test is also unreliable because it can register different levels of alcohol depending on the depth of the breath expelled.

Field sobriety tests are also not required because the interpretations of how a driver performs are too subjective.

However, police can become hostile if you refuse to take these tests when pulled over. Many times police will immediately arrest you so that they can bring you to the station to administer the State-approved Intoxilyzer 9000 test or compel blood or urine samples. When refusing to submit to any roadside test, speak up loudly, and distinctly so that your refusal is picked up on any vehicle-mounted camera or body camera on the police officer.

The police must read you the warning that a refusal to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000 test or blood or urine tests will result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license with 30 days to request an ALS Hearing to appeal this action.

An Intoxilyzer 9000 test only measures for the presence of alcohol. You are only required to provide two sequential breath samples for the Intoxilyzer 9000 test. If the breath samples register as adequate, the officer cannot ask you to provide more. Only if the breath sample registers as insufficient, are you compelled to provide another breath sample.

Car Accidents

In any multiple-vehicle accident, it is usually difficult to determine who was responsible for causing the accident. Even when it seems straightforward, the real cause of the accident may not be immediately apparent, But, Georgia comparative fault laws (and subsequently, insurance companies) require that a there be a determination of fault. This does not necessarily mean that either driver must take complete responsibility for the accident – more often than not, the responsibility will be split among two or more parties involved in the accident. The responsibility assessed is proportional to how much at fault each party was. For example:

  • If your car was parked in front of your home, and someone smashed into it head on, it’s pretty clear that you were not at fault. But, in this case, maybe the steering failed as a result of a manufacturer’s defect. No fault would be attributed to you, and the other driver may be at fault – but it’s also possible that the majority of the fault could be attributed to the car manufacturer.

  • If you were driving 5 MPH above the speed limit when the accident occurred, all parties may be at fault, and a determination would need to be made concerning how much fault should be attributed to each party involved. Despite driving over the speed limit, you would probably not have to pay because anyone found to be at least 50 percent at fault cannot claim compensation under Georgia law.

In Georgia, insurance adjusters often lead the determination of fault for a car accident. A skilled car accident attorney can help ensure that the accident has been thoroughly investigated, and responsibility has been fairly assessed. You need someone to fight for your rights. Without a lawyer, you may be held responsible when someone else was more at fault.

It depends. Not every car accident claim requires a lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help you decide what makes sense in your particular case. Like most personal injury law firms, Michael Fulcher Law provides a free initial consultation, and can advise you on the best course of action to suit your circumstances.

In most cases, suing is not necessary. If no one was hurt, and both parties have insurance, chances are that the other driver’s insurance company will reimburse you for repairs that fall within the estimate from their insurance adjuster. But, if your claim is denied, the settlement is insufficient, or the insurance company won’t negotiate fairly, then you should consider legal action. Your compensation should account for any pain, and suffering from injuries, current, and future medical bills, loss of income, property damage, repair, and rental car costs, etc. Your attorney can help you determine if the settlement will address these costs, and ensure that the insurance company negotiates fairly.

In Georgia, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit for a car accident. Sometimes you can sue someone besides the driver, such as the driver’s employer or passenger if they knew the driver was impaired or acting recklessly.

If you were seriously injured in a car accident, there’s a good chance that your claim will be worth more if you sue or threaten to sue. Michael Fulcher Law can help you assess how much your injuries are worth, and whether or not it makes sense for you to go ahead with a lawsuit. Compensation may depend on how much evidence of fault can be gathered. Evidence includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Police reports
  • Witness reports
  • On-site photos, and videos

Good quality evidence helps maximize your compensation when you decide to sue after a car accident.

If you are involved in a car accident, it’s important to remember that you may not be thinking clearly. Even if you think you are okay, you are probably not really doing as well as you believe. Until you have talked to a lawyer, DO NOT admit any fault. DO NOT apologize for the accident. DO NOT offer to pay for any damage.

Here’s a list of things to do immediately following a car accident:

  1. Take a moment to assess your physical, and mental condition, and the condition of any of passengers. Can you walk, bend, or stretch? Does it hurt when you do so? Ask if anyone is injured or feels any pain.

  2. Call the police or 911. If the police or the 911 operator asks if you are in pain, tell them you are unsure. After an accident, you, and others involved in the accident may be in shock, and may not be able to accurately assess their condition. If you think you might be injured, seek medical attention and/or ask for an ambulance.

  3. Check for witnesses, and take photos, and videos of all vehicles, and the surrounding area.

  4. Have your license, and insurance ready for the police. Be polite, and answer questions from police, but only tell them what you are absolutely certain has happened. It is okay to tell them that you do not remember if you do not have a clear recollection.

  5. Report all injuries, and symptoms you know of to the police, and medical professionals at the scene of the accident so you get appropriate treatment. Go to the hospital, and get medical attention as soon as possible.

  6. Contact Michael Fulcher Law for a free consultation about your car accident.

After you have set an appointment for your legal consultation, you should gather information that will help you after the accident, and do the following:

  1. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly. Be sure to fill any prescriptions, and make all your recommended follow-up appointments with medical professionals. Insurance companies will use gaps in treatment or lack of follow-up to minimize the extent of your injuries.

  2. Notify your insurance company that you were involved in an accident. Even if you are not filing a claim, someone else involved in the accident may file a claim. Do not admit fault. Your insurance company cannot raise your rates if someone else caused the accident. But, be sure to speak with a lawyer before you give a statement to your insurance company. Insurance adjusters often use initial statements against you in a claim.

  3. Track your pain, and any symptoms every day. Take pictures of your injuries, and create a diary of your progress (or lack of) every day.

  4. Get the police report. You may be able to use BuyCrash.com to get an accident report faster than going to the police station. If the state patrol was involved, for a small fee you can get copies of accident reports, incident reports, and citations through their open records website here – https://eports.gamccd.net/orportal

  5. Share the reports, and other evidence with your attorney. Michael Fulcher Law will let you know what your next step should be.

Conditional Discharge for Drug Offenses

Once you have completed your conditional discharge, your criminal record is clean. However, if you fail any of the terms of conditional discharge, the guilty plea that got you into the program is activated, and the judge can sentence you to the maximum time in jail or prison for the underlying drug-related charge.

Yes, during the pendency of your probation, the guilty plea you entered as a prerequisite to entering the conditional discharge program remains in effect, although the sentence is probation, and diversion into the conditional discharge program. Once the conditional discharge program is completed, that guilty plea is erased from your criminal record.

While you are enrolled in a conditional discharge program, you are required to reveal that fact to employers, lenders, landlords, and in response to specific questions on various applications. However, once completed, you do not have to disclose the fact that you were diverted into a conditional discharge. Technically, your criminal record is clean. It might come upon a standard or enhanced background check unless eligible for filtering.

If you are on probation for commission of a misdemeanor, your right to vote is not affected. However, upon conviction of a felony in Georgia, you are disqualified as a voter. Once your sentence has been served, your fine paid, and your probation or parole completed, your right to vote will be automatically restored. However, you must re-register to vote in order to actually vote.

Under new legislation, passed May 2021, once you have served at least 3 years of your probation, you might be eligible to early termination of probation, and reinstatement as a voter. To qualify, you must:

  1. No new arrests other than non-serious traffic offenses
  2. No probation revocations in the past 24 months
  3. No restitution owed

If you qualify, your probation officers submit a probation termination order to the court that sentenced you. Within 30 days, the Court can grant the order to terminate your probation unless the prosecutor or the judge requests a hearing. That hearing must be scheduled within 90 days, at which time you will have a chance to explain why you should no longer be on probation. Once heard, the judge will rule to either terminate your probation early or have you serve the full term.

If your probation is terminated early, you are eligible to vote again. However, you must re-register in order to actually vote.

Domestic Violence

Yes, domestic violence charges remain on the record forever in Georgia.

Georgia recently changed its policy regarding changes to an individual’s criminal arrest record that makes it possible to restrict, or remove, certain misdemeanor offenses with a bill called the “Second Chance Law.” Felony-level convictions must remain, but it is now possible to restrict a conviction for some misdemeanors, provided that the convicted person has served their full sentence, and has not been convicted of any additional crimes in 4 years.

The Second Chance Law does not allow restriction of any crimes that fall under the Family Violence definition. It might be possible to restrict a non-domestic battery or assault charge, but if the incident involved family members, it is not exempt. Nor is misdemeanor family violence stalking. This illustrates Georgia’s policy of punishing crimes that involve a family member more harshly than those that don’t.

If you have been arrested on a family violence charge or have received a domestic restraining order, contact a skilled domestic violence attorney immediately. They may be able to help you avoid any felony charges being filed, and resolve the case in an expedient manner that benefits all parties involved.

Emotional abuse can be a component of a domestic violence case, either as the sole charge or in addition to other types of abuse.

The Georgia Family Violence Act recognizes 5 categories of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial. All involve one person attempting to exert control over a family member with the intent to cause harm. Emotional, and psychological abuse may not appear to be as evident as other criminal behavior, but our current understanding of domestic violence recognizes that emotional abuse can cause serious harm, especially if it persists for a long time.

Distinguishing criminal emotional abuse from ordinary dysfunctional family dynamics is not easy. To rise to the level of domestic violence, the abuse must meet certain criteria:

  • Proof of verifiable severe emotional distress in the claimant
  • Proof that abuser acted with intent to cause harm
  • Evidence that this behavior caused the emotional distress

All domestic violence cases are complicated, and emotional abuse charges add an extra layer. Don’t assume these charges will not be taken seriously in court. Talk to a qualified family violence lawyer about the best strategies for your situation.

The bond amount set for domestic violence depends on the severity of the charge.

The definition of family violence under Georgia law includes numerous different types of charges (assault, battery, sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, criminal trespassing, threats, and unlawful restraint), and several of these can be either misdemeanor or felony charges. The judge setting the bond amount will review the police report, the alleged charge, and whether you had prior offenses.

There is no hard-and-fast formula for what bond will be set, but for a first offense misdemeanor domestic battery charge, it could be between $500, and $1000. The bond for felony charges will be higher, often several thousand dollars. If the incident resulted in serious injuries, the judge may refuse bond, on the basis that the perpetrator is a danger to the community, and should remain in prison. The courts take stalking charges seriously, and tend to be less forgiving when the abuse involves a child.

Judges also don’t like it when someone violates a domestic protection order, and may adjust the bond amount accordingly or order incarceration if they think the accused poses a danger to the accuser.

Once you pay your bond, make an appointment to talk with Morgan County criminal defense attorney with expertise in family violence law.

Drug Crimes

Georgia has five drug classifications (called “drug schedules”) of illegal drugs. Unlike 18 other states that, as of 2021, have legalized recreational use of marijuana, Georgia has not followed suit, with the exception of several localities around Atlanta.

In Georgia, the following are drugs are illegal:

  • Schedule I drugs: Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use, and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote. The list of drugs in Georgia is extensive, and includes marijuana. However, while the sale, and distribution of marijuana, and possession of more than one ounce are punishable as felonies, possession of less than an ounce is a misdemeanor. This does not mean you get a free pass: misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. The complete list of Georgia Schedule II drugs include combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
  • Included in the list of Schedule III drugs in Georgia are products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (such as Tylenol with codeine) as well as ketamine, and steroids. Schedule III drugs are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical, and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I, and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.
  • Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse, and low risk of dependence, and include drugs such as Alprazolam, Xanax, Darvon, Valium, Ambien, Zolpidem, and Tramadol.
  • Schedule V drugs have lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV, and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

Penalties for possession vary depending on the drug, and the quantity, but marijuana accounts for the greatest number of drug arrests in Georgia, and throughout the U.S. According to the FBI, in 2019, police across the U.S. arrested “545,602 people for cannabis related crimes in 2019. That arrest rate is 9% higher than the 495,871 people arrested for violent crimes the same year.” Your drug possession lawyer can tell you that most of those were for possession.

Marijuana drug possession, a Schedule I drug, penalties in Georgia are:

  • For possession of less than one ounce of marijuana: A misdemeanor punishable by a term of incarceration or probation of not more than 12 months or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both, or public works not to exceed 12 months.
  • For possession of more than one ounce of marijuana: A felony punishable by a term of incarceration between one, and 10 years.
  • For possession of marijuana with intent to with intent to distribute; or sale, delivery or distribution: any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years. Imprisonment terms generally depend on the quantity of marijuana.

Possession of other Schedule I, and Schedule II drugs: According to Georgia Code § 16-13-30, it is “unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his control any controlled substance.” Penalties for possessing a Schedule I controlled substance (see separate penalties for marijuana in the above paragraph) or Schedule II narcotic drug, are punishable “by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than 15 years.” That is for a first conviction. A third or subsequent conviction for the same offense carries a sentence of up to 30 years.

Controlled substance refers to “a drug, substance, or immediate precursor in Schedules I through V.” A narcotic drug is also a controlled substance but generally refers to opioids.

Unlawful possession of a Schedule III, IV, or V drug is controlled substance is a felony, and punishable by a 1 to 5-year term of incarceration. Unlawful possession means that there is no legal justification or permission; for example, possessing a drug that has no legal medical use in Georgia and/or for which you do not have a valid medical prescription.

As regards to medical marijuana, Georgia’s medical marijuana law “allows certain qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil,” which is derived from the marijuana plant. It authorizes the Georgia Department of Public Health to issue a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” to qualified persons, which will prove that they are authorized to have the oil, and protect them from arrest.”

There are several options for “first-time offenders” in the Georgia legal system that can keep you out of jail. Those who have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, simple have never been previously convicted of violating “any statute of the United States or of any state relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drug” before may be eligible for a conditional discharge, under which the judge can dismiss the charge after the first-time offender meets certain conditions. The conditions that are typically required for a conditional discharge may take up to three years to complete. They include:

  • Probation
  • County jail
  • Regular, mandatory drug screenings
  • Fines
  • Successful comprehensive rehabilitation program/Risk Reduction Program
  • Community service

All requirements must be met in order to be successful. Failure in even one of these requirements these will cause revocation of the conditional discharge. It is important to discuss this with your drug charge lawyer to decide if you can make the commitment since there are no second chances.

There is a second option: under the Georgia First Offender Act, you won’t necessarily avoid some jail time, but upon successful completion of your sentence, you will not have a conviction, and your charge will be sealed from your official criminal history. Your drug crimes attorney informs you of your eligibility, but it is up to you to tell the Court that you are willing to enter the program. Eligibility is based on a number of factors, including no prior felony convictions in any state, and no previous First Offender sentencing. If the judge determines you are eligible, you adhere to all the terms served up by the judge, which can include paying any, and all fines, attending all meetings with your probation officer, and upholding all conditions of your agreement with the judge. Hopefully, jail time can be avoided; but in any case, if you successfully complete all requirements, you have a better chance to move on with your life.

Remember, though:

  • While your conviction may be sealed to future employers, it is still accessible to the Court, to the police, and to prosecuting attorneys
  • If you fail to uphold any of the conditions, you can lose your First Offender status, be resentenced, and receive the maximum sentence for the crime you committed

Hopefully, you abide by the terms of the agreement to complete your probation, and the probation officer will request an Order of Discharge from the judge.

Suppose you were previously convicted of a felony drug charge that may have been eligible for a First Offender’s status. In that case, you may still be able to be retroactively sentenced as a first-time offender, and have your conviction discharged. You would need to complete the probation program as provided under the First Offender law, and have your record modified to show no felony conviction.

Some drug charges are misdemeanors. While these are still crimes, they are less serious than a felony charge, which is what many people think of as a criminal charge. The only real example of a misdemeanor drug charge in Georgia is for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, or a first offense charge for possession of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, scales, or bongs. In Atlanta, and several other communities, possession of less than an ounce is decriminalized; which means it is still illegal, but there is no arrest, and no prosecution. In Georgia, however, a misdemeanor is still a criminal charge that may include substantial penalties.

Felony drug charges are more serious: and, in fact, most drug possession charges in Georgia are considered felonies with punishments that can include thousands of dollars in fines, and years in prison. Moreover, you could lose driving privileges, make it more difficult to find employment, and you will be restricted from owning or possessing a firearm.

Whether a misdemeanor or a felony drug charge, it can cost you time, money, freedom, and future opportunities. If you have been arrested, and charged, let attorney Michael Fulcher help protect your rights.

Drug Possession Offenses

Perhaps the most critical factor is beating a drug possession charge is to get the best possible legal representation. Look for a drug possession lawyer who has experience with cases like yours, and who knows the local laws, and has worked in the courts in your jurisdiction. That’s important, because that’s the attorney who has insights into the prosecutors, and judges who will most likely be on your case. At the same time, make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney, and trust that your case will be given the attention it deserves, and needs. Get representation as soon as possible—preferably as soon as you post bail. Do not wait until an indictment is handed down.

After looking at the facts of your case, we can determine the best course of action. For instance:

  • Were your Fourth Amendment rights violated: Did the police commit illegal search, and seizure? Were you questioned without being allowed to see a lawyer or not given your Miranda rights?
  • Did entrapment play a role: Were you induced into taking a drug into your possession by an informant or the police?
  • Was there an abuse of power: Was there an excessive use of force or other intimidating tactic used at the time of your arrest, or did you feel coerced in any way?
  • Is there reasonable doubt: Is there a good reason to believe that you really didn’t know that the drugs were in your home or car, and that they may have been put or left there by someone else?
  • Were the drugs actually yours: Were they found in someone else’s vehicle or residence?
  • Did you have a lawful medical reason for having the drug: Did your physician prescribe a Schedule II, Schedule III or Schedule IV drug for your legal, and legitimate use?
  • Was the chain of custody broken: Was the drug evidence mishandled by the police or are they actually missing?

We examine every possible avenue in creating a defense on your behalf to help you “beat a drug possession charge”, and get you the justice you deserve.

Any arrest is bound to be stressful. Because penalties for Georgia drug possession, and drug trafficking law are so severe, it’s imperative to:

  • Stay calm: don’t yell or get hysterical, and definitely don’t become violent
  • Be respectful: While it’s true that you’re angry, and possibly feeling defiant, being uncooperative, and mouthing off is not going to help your situation. That doesn’t mean you have to volunteer any information to the police beyond your name, and produce your identification, but that’s it.
  • Be smart: Do not lie to, attempt to bribe, or otherwise try to convince the police to release you.
  • Request legal counsel: It’s your right, and it’s in your best interest. Don’t discuss anything with the police without your lawyer being present.

The difference between personal use, and trafficking (or possession with intent to distribute) is largely a matter of amount. Say you had an ounce, and a half of marijuana: that may seem like something you would use over a medium period of time. Unfortunately, the threshold for personal use is less than an ounce, and everything over that is considered enough to sell or distribute. At the same time, if you have less than an ounce in your possession but were also nabbed with scales, multiple baggies, or a lot of cash, you are likely to be facing an intent to distribute felony charge.

There are a number of factors that go into determining Georgia felony drug possession jail or prison sentences, fines, or other penalties.

  • For possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II, and non-narcotic drugs: Imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 15 years for a first offense, depending on the amount. A third or subsequent offense doubles that amount. (Schedule II narcotics include morphine, opium, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone, among others. Schedule II non-narcotic drugs include stimulants such as amphetamine or methamphetamine, and Ritalin, as well as amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.)
  • For unlawful possession of non-narcotic Schedule III, Schedule IV or Schedule V drug: A sentence of not less than one year nor more than five years for a first offense. Upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense, the sentence becomes not less than one year nor more than ten years.

Although the penalties that the court can impose are severe, there are punishments that are apart from those handed down by a judge. Convictions for drug possession can lead to strict conditions of probation for years, suspension of driving privileges, affect your ability to get a job, obtain a loan, or get a firearms license. It frequently leads to problems with family, and friends. Landlords typically run background checks, and are less than likely to want to rent to someone with a felony record., and if you are seeking child custody, a drug possession conviction may very well be held against you.

In criminal trial cases, the arraignment is the first time you will appear in court to address your charges. At the arraignment hearing, the judge will read the charges against you. You will be apprised of your rights, and your plea will be entered: you plead either guilty or not guilty. If you do not enter a plea, the court automatically enters a plea of not guilty. If you plead not guilty, your drug possession lawyer can ask for all evidence in your case, and start building a defense on your behalf.

Yes, possession of paraphernalia is a crime in Georgia—even if you did not have drugs in your possession. Sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so if you are caught with certain items you can be charged under Georgia § 16-13-32.2: Possession, and Use of Drug-Related Objects. These include “any object or materials of any kind for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body marijuana or a controlled substance.”

Drug paraphernalia includes, among other things:

  • Scales
  • Syringes
  • Rolling papers
  • Roach clips
  • Bongs or Pipes
  • Cards or other objects with drug residue
  • A quantity of plastic “baggies”
  • Rolling papers
  • Even tin foil,

A violation of this code is a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.

There are no guarantees, but in some cases you may be eligible for a diversion, or alternative sentence, under Georgia’s First Offender Act. It is not automatically offered; it is requested by your drug possession attorney. It is only available if, indeed, it is your first offense, and you have never been convicted of a felony in Georgia or any other U.S. state.

Under this act, you still receive a sentence, and may still have to serve some jail time, but if you satisfactorily complete all the terms of your probation, you will no longer have a conviction, the Court Clerk will enter an Order of Discharge, and your records will be sealed. Any violation on any term of the conditions set by the Court can nullify your first offender status: moreover, you will be convicted of your drug possession charge, and could be resentenced up to the maximum penalties.

Some people convicted of a drug-related felony may have the option of drug court. For example, Morgan County is served by the Alcovy Judicial Circuit drug court, and reflects a partnership between “judicial, district attorney, law enforcement, drug court office, treatment providers, defense bar, and felony probation representatives.” The stated mission of this program is to ” enhance public safety by reducing crime, and recidivism while maximizing the productivity, and health of community through a more efficient allocation of available resources, which establishes a comprehensive system of treatment, incentives, and sanctions for eligible drug dependent offenders.”

In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Be 17 years of age or older
  • Be facing felony drug charges
  • Be facing a probation period of 18 to 24 months
  • Have a substance-abuse problem
  • Be a legal resident of the United States

You are ineligible if you live with a substance abuser, have been charged with sales or manufacturing narcotics, have a mental or physical disability that would not allow you to successfully complete the program, are in a medical pain management program, or have a history of violent crime or sex offenses.

Components of the program include integrating drug treatment services with justice system case processing, providing drug/substance abuse rehabilitation programs, monitoring abstinence of substance abuse through random drug testing, ensuring participants’ ongoing compliance through a coordinated strategy. By forging partnerships, and “using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution, and defense counsel promote public safety” drug courts also strive to “protect participants’ due process rights.”

Entry into the program is voluntary, and at the sole discretion of the program administrators, and “charges will be dismissed or a reduced sentence will be entered upon successful completion of the program.”

DUI & Traffic

A police officer can pull over a driver for any perceived traffic law violation. Traffic laws are found in Title 40 of the Georgia Criminal Code. Once police have made a valid stop, they can investigate any crime committed in their presence. Therefore, open containers, firearms, or drugs visible inside a car can lead to further investigation. The most common reasons for a police stop are: speeding, failure to maintain lane, expired license plates or registration, reckless driving, following too closely, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, racing, aggressive driving, running a red light, operating a car while texting, and unlawful passing of a school bus.

Each of these violations can result in points on your license, and depending on the state of your driving record, suspension of driving privileges.

Commercial drivers are held to a higher, and stricter standard because of the potential for harm larger vehicles present to the public. Therefore, a DUI or other criminal traffic offense can gravely affect your ability to drive commercially.

Refusing a valid request to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing becomes a separate major traffic violation in Georgia for commercial drivers.

Major traffic violations can seriously affect your ability to drive commercially. A DUI or major traffic offense committed in a personal vehicle can still result in a suspended commercial license, even if the offense occurred outside of Georgia. Upon conviction the penalty is suspension of all driving licenses of all classes for a minimum of 1 year, even if the offense occurred in a non-commercial vehicle or out-of-state. A second conviction can result in lifetime disqualification.

The short answer is, it depends. Some traffic courts transmit every ticket disposition to Georgia’s Department of Driver Services, and they, in turn, may transmit it to your home state’s DMV. Most states, upon receiving evidence of an out-of-state conviction, will apply their rules to that offense, and you will have the same consequences as if you got the ticket there. Since some states are dramatically stricter than Georgia, this can have serious consequences on your license, and insurance if you happen to reside in one of those states. Other courts will not transmit a disposition for certain reduced offenses, thereby saving you from having to deal with any consequences at home. Determining how to resolve a Georgia ticket so that it doesn’t cause problems back home is key to successfully handling these types of cases.

DUI Child Endangerment

The first and second prosecution for DUI child endangerment can be treated as misdemeanors. However, a third charge will most likely be prosecuted as a felony. If there are two children under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of arrest, the prosecution can proceed with felony charges. DUI, and child endangerment are treated as separate offenses, and a separate charge of child endangerment can be brought for each underage child. Therefore, a single arrest can result in both felony charges, and being labeled as a habitual violator.

Your livelihood is in jeopardy if your job brings you into regular contact with children. If you are a teacher, coach, or day care provider, a conviction might mean the loss of your job, and even prevent future employment. As a criminal conviction, DUI child endangerment requires disclosure on many applications: employment, education, financial aid, mortgage, lease, and professional licensing. Your future can be gravely affected.

If your job requires that you drive—e.g., truck driver, Uber or Lyft driver, employees who use company or fleet vehicles, salespeople, real estate agents, or bus drivers—you will possibly lose your ability to drive, and pursue your livelihood.

If you are involved in a divorce action, a conviction for DUI child endangerment might mean loss of custody of your children, and only supervised visitation.

To emphasize the seriousness of these charges, Georgia insists that the DUI, and child endangerment charges remain separate. Therefore, a conviction for a first offense on either charge might mean a jail term of up to 12 months, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, because the charges cannot be merged, even though prosecuted only as misdemeanors, the penalties will be compounded: up to 24 months in jail with a fine of up to $2,000.

Georgia’s Implied Consent law requires you to submit to state-administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances in order to determine you are indeed intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination. Police officers must read the Implied Consent Warning when arresting an individual being arrested for DUI refusal. An officer’s failure to properly read the Implied Consent warning can result in dismissal of a DUI case.

No, a criminal conviction for felony DUI child endangerment will never come off your criminal records. However, a DUI license suspension will age off your driving history after 7 years. Police, and the courts will always have access to your lifetime driving record, so a license suspension resulting from a felony DUI will still be considered by the court in determining any future sentencing for subsequent violations.

If police suspect you are DUI because of taking drugs, or a combination of drugs, and alcohol, they will ask for either a urine or blood sample at the police station.

Urine tests do not reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system, only whether specific substances are present. Urine tests can measure the percentage of ethylene glycol in your system, but the test is not fully reliable. Blood tests reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system as well as alcohol. Blood tests are considered the most reliable chemical testing option. However, blood draws need to be performed by trained professionals, which makes them less available at police stations.

Yes, if you have more than one underage child in the car with you, depending on the type of driving witnessed by police, and your blood alcohol and/or drug tests, you can be charged with felony DUI child endangerment, and it will be considered a third DUI violation in a 5-year period. A conviction can result in being labeled a habitual violator.

A habitual violator is a status. Your license can be revoked for 5 years. If you drive without a license, additional criminal charges, and penalties are likely.

You might be eligible for a probationary license within 2 years., and that probationary license can be valid for the rest of the 5-year period. To get a temporary license, a habitual violator must establish:

  • A refusal of the temporary license request would cause you extreme hardship, including preventing you from going to work, attending school, etc.
  • You have completed any driving or alcohol/drug programs included in any sentencing.
  • You cannot have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to certain types of offenses.
  • You must submit proof of insurance.
  • You must submit a sworn affidavit that states you do not use illegal substances, and do not use alcohol in excess. § 40-5-58(e)(1).

A probationary license allows a habitual violator to drive again, but there may be restrictions placed on the license that limit where you can go.

Although a conviction for DUI child endangerment does not mean automatic loss of custody, it can impact any divorce or custody case. The judge will consider an arrest or conviction as evidence of your ability to safely care for your children. Guided by your divorce lawyer, the judge will consider:

  • The circumstances of the DUI arrest, and conviction
  • Whether any harm resulted from the DUI
  • Your overall criminal record
  • Whether there is a pattern of intoxicated conduct
  • Whether there is evidence of alcoholism and/or drug abuse
  • How long ago the DUI was in relation to the current custody case

It’s not a lost cause, but another reason why you should secure the services of a skilled, and competent DUI child endangerment defense lawyer to represent you against criminal charges.

DUI Drugs

Yes, having a prescription is not a defense to driving under the influence. Unlike alcohol, a conviction for drug impairment while driving does not require a specific amount of drugs to be present in blood or urine. Prosecution is based on police observation, and blood or urine test results. Although having a prescription might prevent prosecution for possession of dangerous drugs, it cannot prevent prosecution for driving in a less safe manner due to intoxication.

Georgia law, your driving privileges are conditioned upon an implied agreement to submit to breath, blood, or urine tests upon request by police. A refusal to take these tests is called a DUI Refusal, and can result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license. To appeal this automatic suspension, you must file a request for an ALS Hearing within 30 days of your arrest. That filing costs $150, a fee that must be paid at the time you file the appeal. Your right to drive depends on a timely appeal, so do not delay, and confer with an experienced DUI drug lawyer immediately.

Due to recent court rulings, a blood test is the most commonly requested test by law enforcement for most DUI arrests. A urine test will reveal drug consumption from many days, even weeks ago, way too distant to cause current driving impairment. A common urine test strip will detect marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics, and barbiturates that might no longer be active in your system. A urine sample sent to a laboratory will reveal even minute traces of drugs taken months ago. Blood samples do not detect drugs taken so far in the past. Both blood and urine test results can be challenged since they might not be evidence of current intoxication.

A first DUI drug misdemeanor conviction:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Up to $1,000 fine
  • 12 months of probation
  • 40 hours community service
  • Clinical drug, and alcohol evaluation
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 12 months, with limited driving privileges after 6 months

A second DUI drug misdemeanor conviction within 10 years:

  • Minimum jail sentence of 72 hours up to 12 months
  • Minimum fine of $600, with a maximum of $1,000
  • Probation for 12 months
  • 30 days community service
  • DUI school
  • Clinical drug, and alcohol evaluation
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 12 months without a limited work permit

A third DUI drug misdemeanor conviction within 5 years:

  • Mandatory 15-day jail sentence
  • Minimum fine of $1,000, with a maximum of $5,000
  • 30 days community service
  • DUI school
  • 30 days community service
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 5 years

Unlike a straight DUI prosecution, in a DUI drug case there is no specific level of drug use that substantiates a charge of driving under the influence. Blood, and urine tests, given voluntarily or under compulsion of a warrant, only reveal the presence of drugs, not whether they are currently psychoactive.

Because a successful prosecution is based on the police officer’s subjective evaluation of the driver’s behaviors, and these imprecise tests, there are opportunities for an experienced DUI drug criminal defense lawyer to interject reasonable doubt into the prosecutor’s story. Because the consequences of a conviction are drastic—loss of driver’s license, fines, and possible jail time—you should consult with an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to secure your rights, and defenses.

When screening to retain a DUI drug defense lawyer, you should ask a series of questions that will reveal the experience, and reputation of the lawyer:

  • How long have you been a DUI defense lawyer?
  • How many DUI drug defense cases have you handled? How many annually?
  • What is considered a “win”?
  • How will you evaluate the strength of the prosecutor’s cases?
  • How important is it that you know the police officer, prosecutor, and judge?
  • What are the likely attorney’s fees, and costs? When are these due?
  • Will my case go to trial, or will you negotiate a plea bargain?
  • What are the likely costs of going to trial?
  • Who handles my case, you or an associate?

DUI Felony Level

No, a criminal conviction for felony DUI will never come off your criminal record. However, a DUI license suspension will age off your driving history after 7 years. But police, and the courts will always have access to your lifetime driving record, so a license suspension resulting from a felony DUI will still be considered by the court in determining any future sentencing for subsequent violations.

Because arrests are public records, your name can be published in the newspaper at any time. However, Georgia includes public shaming as part of its felony DUI punishment. If you are convicted of a felony DUI or even a second or third DUI within 5 years, you will be assessed a $25 fee, and your name, and photograph will be published in your county newspaper.

Yes, a security clearance usually has a personal conduct, and character provision that disqualifies you as a security risk upon conviction of a felony DUI or other criminal activity.

Only the State-administered breath test—the Intoxilyzer 9000—or giving a blood or urine sample at the police station are required as a condition of having a driver’s license in Georgia. You are under no legal obligation to submit to an Alco-Sensor breath test, a handheld breath test, or a field sobriety test roadside.

An Alco-Sensor breath test only measures if there is any alcohol present on your breath. It cannot measure other intoxicants besides alcohol. Getting a positive reading on an Alco-Sensor test is not evidence of intoxication, and cannot be admitted in court. Police use it as a screening method upon stopping a driver.

A handheld breath test is also unreliable because it can register different levels of alcohol depending on the depth of the breath expelled.

Field sobriety tests are also not required because the interpretations of how a driver performs are too subjective.

However, police can become hostile if you refuse to take these tests when pulled over. Many times police will immediately arrest you so that they can bring you to the station to administer the State-approved Intoxilyzer 9000 test or compel blood or urine samples. When refusing to submit to any roadside test, speak up loudly, and distinctly so that your refusal is picked up on any vehicle-mounted camera or body camera on the police officer.

The police must read you the warning that a refusal to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000 test or blood or urine tests will result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license with 30 days to request an ALS Hearing to appeal this action.

An Intoxilyzer 9000 test only measures the presence of alcohol. You are only required to provide two sequential breath samples for the Intoxilyzer 9000 test. If the breath samples register as adequate, the officer cannot ask you to provide more. Only if the breath sample registers as insufficient are you compelled to provide another breath sample.

If police suspect you are DUI because of taking drugs, or a combination of drugs, and alcohol, they will ask for either a urine or blood sample at the police station.

Urine tests do not reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system, only whether the substance is present. Urine tests can measure the percentage of ethylene glycol in your system, but the test is not fully reliable. Blood tests reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system as well as alcohol. Blood tests are considered the most reliable chemical testing option. However, blood draws need to be performed by trained professionals, which makes them less available at police stations.

Yes, the police can get the blood test results from the hospital but only with a valid warrant. The application for the warrant must state the specific reasons why the police believed you were operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination, and that the blood test results are evidence of that crime.

The vast majority of felony DUI cases do not go to trial but are resolved through plea bargaining with the prosecutor. The most successful defenses are related to the initial police stop. Police can only briefly stop you based on a particularized, and objective basis for suspected criminal activity. The initial stop cannot be based only on a hunch but on an articulable suspicion. If the initial stop was pretextual or illegal, the subsequent arrest for felony DUI will be illegal.

Suppose you refuse to take either an Alco-breath test, handheld breath test, or perform field sobriety tests. In that case, the police officer cannot merely arrest you without specific, and articulable evidence that you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination. Otherwise, that arrest is illegal.

These issues are litigated pretrial. Once the judge has ruled on the legality of the arrest, and the admissibility of evidence, prosecutors, and defense lawyers often sit down to negotiate a plea deal based on a mutual understanding of the limitations on what evidence remains to be admitted in any trial. There is a timetable for that negotiation. If it fails, then the case goes to trial.

The prosecutor must prove all the elements of each crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The role of defense counsel is to introduce doubt. Doubt can be created by cross-examining witnesses, producing contradictory evidence through independent toxicology reports, and expert witnesses, and even putting on exculpatory witnesses.

DUI First Offense Under 21

Georgia wants young drivers to strictly follow the all traffic laws, including laws governing use of alcohol, prescription drugs, and most certainly, dangerous drug laws. To accomplish this objective, it is technically illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.02%. A single drink under the age of 21 is illegal, because of the current state drinking age of 21. Therefore, the current DUI reflects that intolerance to underage drinking, and illegal drug use.

Police must have a reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated while driving. That means they must list any vehicular behaviors that led them to believe you were driving under the influence. Police cannot rely solely on the results of blood alcohol measures since the validity of the initial stop will be challenged by your DUI defense attorney.

A skilled, and competent DUI defense lawyer knows how to use the ALS Hearing process, and familiarity with the police, and prosecutors to know whether a plea negotiation or going to trial is the best option under your circumstances. There are ways to challenge a DUI under the age of 21 charge. Here is where experience counts.

If police suspect you are DUI because of taking drugs, or a combination of drugs, and alcohol, they will ask for either a urine or blood sample at the police station.

Urine tests do not reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system—

only whether the substance is present. Urine tests can measure the percentage of ethylene glycol in your system, but the test is not fully reliable. Blood tests reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system as well as alcohol. Blood tests are considered the most reliable chemical testing option. However, blood draws need to be performed by trained professionals, which makes them less available at police stations.

Yes, at a minimum, if you tested between 0.02-0.08%, upon entering a plea of guilty or conviction, you will lose your driver’s license for 6 months without a limited driving permit.

If you tested over 0.08% or refused testing under the implied consent laws, you will lose your driver’s license for 12 months without a limited driving permit.

In special circumstances you can avoid license suspension in DUI cases under 21. For a driver over 21 years of age, a defense attorney might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduced charges of reckless driving. This is considered a lesser included offense, and does not carry all of the mandatory penalties associated with a DUI conviction.

Although for a driver under the age of 21, a plea to the lesser charge of reckless driving can mean no criminal record, it still requires a 6-month license suspension, a partial victory since avoiding a criminal record is important. If you are close to turning 21, sometimes you can avoid the license suspension by entering the plea after your 21st birthday.

After 120 days, you can regain your driving privileges in most instances on a first offense. However, you must reapply for your driving license privileges. You must present a completion certificate for DUI alcohol or drug risk reduction program. You must show completion of any community service requirement or counselling obligation. You must pay all fines, and $200 reinstatement fee.

If you have been convicted of a DUI for the first or second time, you may be eligible for a hardship license. The hardship license only allows you to drive to work or school.

Driving under the influence is a criminal charge, and therefore, remains as a part of your criminal record for the rest of your life. Having a criminal record can overshadow your future. You must disclose the criminal record on many applications throughout your life: college, professional school, financial aid, mortgage, housing, professional licenses.

By hiring a skilled, and competent DUI defense lawyer, you might be able to avoid these serious consequences. Don’t despair!

DUI Refusal

Yes, you can refuse to take a roadside breathalyzer test without legal consequences, although once you refuse you might be arrested immediately.

You can also refuse to take the Intoxilyzer 9000 test once brought to the police station. However, such a refusal results in an administrative suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months., and the police must inform you that your license will be suspended if you refuse. Your DUI lawyer must appeal this suspension by requesting an ALS Hearing within 30 days of arrest in order to challenge its imposition.

Your driver’s license will be administratively suspended for 12 months, and the prosecution will go forward with charging you with DUI based on police observations. A refusal to submit to a blood or urine test can be introduced at trial as evidence of guilt. A refusal to submit to a breath test cannot be used against you at trial.

  • Depending on the backlog, it might take 1-4 months to get a court date to begin a prosecution for DUI. There are no strict rules on how long these cases require to resolve. The factors to consider include:
  • What plea is entered—guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendre
  • The nature of the evidence in the case
  • The backlog of cases in the county
  • How the prosecution, and defense attorneys gather evidence, and present their cases

As a general rule, a not guilty plea will take longer to resolve than a plea of guilty.

Georgia law does not have a first offender act on DUI convictions. A first offense cannot be handled by diversion or withholding judgment.

  • 12-month license suspension
  • 24 hours or up to 12 months in county jail
  • $300-$1,000 fines, plus court costs, and fees
  • 12 months supervised probation with a fee that varies by county at around $40/month
  • Alcohol assessment
  • DUI Risk Reduction class, usually costing $350
  • 40 hours of approved community service

For a second DUI in Georgia, within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction, the penalties are compounded:

  • 18-month license suspension
  • Maximum penalty is up to 12 months in a county jail, although usually a person is sentenced to a minimum of 72 hours in jail
  • 12 months supervised probation with a fee that varies by county at around $40/month
  • $600-$1,000 fines, plus court costs, and fees
  • Alcohol assessment, clinical evaluation
  • DUI Risk Reduction class, usually costing $350
  • 240 hours of community service
  • Maintain an ignition Interlock device on your vehicle for a period of time
  • $25 fee for publishing your photo in the local newspaper where the DUI occurred

Field Sobriety Tests

Yes, a refusal to take field sobriety tests is not considered a DUI refusal that triggers automatic suspension of your driver’s license. However, if you have a prior DUI conviction, are a driver under the age of 21, or act erratically, you will likely be arrested. Once at the station, you are under a legal obligation to submit to State-administered breath, blood, or urine tests. If you refuse, it is a DUI refusal, and you can lose your license for a year.

No, you do not have to take a field sobriety test in Georgia. You are merely providing the police with unreliable evidence of impairment to justify their stop, and your arrest.

Yes, at least one-third of sober people fail a field sobriety test! Several factors might impact your performance: medical condition, anxiety, fatigue, inability to understand the instructions because of language, hearing impairment, being overweight, or just the noise, and confusion at the site.

Financial Crimes

Financial crime is a term that refers to a broad range of typically white-collar crimes involving finance, and fraud. The penalty for each depends on the specific criminal charge as well as the amount of money or assets involved. If you or a loved one is convicted of a financial crime, the prison sentence can reach 20 years, and beyond, depending on the specific charges, and circumstances. In addition to prison time, defendants may also face substantial fines, be ordered to pay costly restitution, lose their professional license(s), and have to serve lengthy probation.

A financial crime is typically a nonviolent offense that involves the theft of money or other property by a person or entity in a position of trust. Anyone can commit a financial crime, including an individual, a professional, a business or corporation, or a government official. Financial crimes are usually perpetrated through some type of deceit, such as the abuse of a position of trust. Some examples of financial crimes include embezzlement, forgery, fraud (such as credit card or debit card fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, securities fraud, etc.), money laundering, and tax evasion.

Depending on the circumstances, a financial crime may be a state or federal offense. Financial crimes may also involve other criminal acts, such as computer crime, elder abuse, or even violent crimes like robbery or murder.

A financial crime lawyer defends people or companies that are facing accusations of involvement in any type of financial crime. Financial crime lawyers advise on cases involving bribery, corruption, fraud, market manipulation, money laundering, systems, and controls failures, etc.

If You Are Facing a DUI Charge, Give Us a Call

Yes! DUI laws in Georgia do not distinguish between public, and private property. You may not drive any moving, motorized vehicle anywhere in Georgia while impaired. That includes golf carts, 4-wheelers, and even lawnmowers. Where you drive is not important. Therefore, police can arrest you for DUI on private property, even sitting behind the wheel in your own driveway.

The per se blood alcohol level for drivers over the age of 21 is 0.08. For young drivers, under the age of 21, the per se blood alcohol level is 0.02. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the per se blood alcohol level is 0.04. A per se blood alcohol means that once established, it is assumed that the driver is impaired.

Less safe driving can be charged even if the blood alcohol readings do not reach per se levels. Less safe driving can be charged with blood alcohol levels of 0.05-.08. The offense is proved by the officer’s observations, any accident report, and witness testimony, along with any blood alcohol test results. Below 0.05, as an adult, non-commercial driver, you are not likely to be charged with less safe driving, but might be open to other charges.

You probably won’t be able to call your lawyer! However, you are under no obligation to submit to a roadside field sobriety test or handheld breath test. The field sobriety test is subjective, and not evidence of impairment. The handheld breath test is unreliable as an indicator of legal intoxication. Therefore, you should refuse, although know that a refusal might result in an arrest. Once at the police station you are under a legal obligation, as a condition of your driver’s license, to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000, blood, or urine test or else face a suspension of your driving privileges.

Yes, in Georgia, you will lose driving privileges for some period of time even for a first DUI conviction or plea. The maximum sentence is 12-month suspension. However, once you complete DUI school, and pay a reinstatement fee, you can apply for reinstatement after 120 days.

A driver over the age of 21 can apply for a limited use driving permit for the duration of the suspension that will allow you to drive to work, school, counseling, DUI School, for medical care, and treatment, to pharmacies, court appearances, probation appointments, and community service. This limited driving permit may also include driving an unlicensed, family member to their work, school, medical appointments, and to pharmacies.

If you are under 21, your license will be suspended for 12 months without any limited driving permits.

You do not have to submit to a field sobriety test or roadside breathalyzer test. Field sobriety tests are notoriously subjective. Roadside breathalyzer tests are also not reliable. However, both tests act as screening evaluations.

Do know that if you refuse to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, you will most probably be arrested.

Once at the police station, you will be asked to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000 test, blood, and/or urine test. If you refuse any of these, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. You must be informed of the consequences of refusing these tests. If you still refuse, the police can get a warrant, and force submission to blood, and urine tests, depending on the circumstances. Again how you act when confronted with these options provides police with opportunities to determine your mental, and physical capacity.

Police must tell you that you will lose your driver’s license if you refuse to take the Intoxilyzer 9000, blood and/or urine tests. You can request the right to call your lawyer before submitting to the test. You must file a request for an ALS hearing within 30 days of arrest in order to preserve your right to contest the driver’s license suspension.

First, you will have your license suspended for 12 months, with an opportunity to file a request for an ALS Hearing to appeal the decision within 30 days of arrest.

Next, the police might seek a warrant to compel you to take a blood or urine test. It takes time to get the warrant, in which time, your alcohol levels will continue to decline. A refusal to take required Intoxilyzer 9000, blood, or urine tests negates your opportunity to request an independent blood test at the station.

However, refusing to take these tests does not mean the prosecution will drop its case against you. The prosecutor can still pursue the DUI charges by showing impairment through evidence of slurred speech, bloodshot or dilated eyes, fumbling for your driver’s license or registration, reactions to police questions, odor of alcohol, open containers in the vehicle, admissions of drinking or drug use, and of course, your manner of driving. If the stop was recorded by a patrol car camera or the questioning by a body-camera, those tapes are admissible as evidence of driving under the influence, too.

Personal Injury

Most personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence. To determine who is at fault, the law requires that the plaintiff prove that there was a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, that the duty was breached, that the breach was the cause of the injury, and that actual injury occurred. Unlike a criminal case where the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil tort action like negligence, the plaintiff must only prove its case with a preponderance of the evidence.

A personal injury claim is when a person or property is injured, and another person was at fault. It is a civil action, called a tort, a civil wrong.

Traditionally, a personal injury lawyer is retained by clients with a contingency fee arrangement. This contract for services states that the personal injury lawyer will pay the costs of suit for the client, and take a percentage of any settlement or jury award, after costs are reimbursed. If there is no recovery, you do not have to pay the lawyer for any expenses or hours spent.

Georgia will reduce the award of damages by the proportion of fault attributed to the plaintiff. That is what modified comparative negligence means. Originally, if the plaintiff was at all at fault in causing an accident, and injuries, that contributory negligence was a bar to recovery, a complete defense to any tort action. However, this theory of liability was considered too harsh, and unrealistic. States like Georgia developed a theory of modified comparative negligence to allocate blame between the parties, and reduce awards accordingly.

Depending on the facts, and the kind of accident, a plaintiff can sue for medical expenses, prior, and future; lost wages; lost earning capacity; disability; scarring, and disfigurement; property damage; emotional distress; pain, and suffering;, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages are only allowed in personal injury cases when there is clear, and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions exhibited willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or conscious indifference to the consequences.

No, Georgia is not a no-fault state. Before an insurance company has to pay out on a policy, including damages to your car, medical expenses, and compensatory damages for lasting injuries, it will determine who was at fault. This is why you should never speak with the insurance companies representing the other parties to an accident. You should only have your attorney speak with these other insurance companies.

Most claims for damages, including wrongful death, resulting from negligent operation of a car, truck, or motorcycle must be filed in the proper court within 2 years of the incident. Georgia is very strict, and will not waive the statute of limitations. However, the spouse of a victim of personal injury has 4 years in which to file a loss of consortium suit, alleging that the resulting injury caused serious harm to your marriage, including the ability to engage in sex, loss of companionship, and loss of care.

Although an accident can feel overwhelming, there is a lot you can do to help your lawyer.

  • Keep receipts, and estimates for all repairs to your vehicle or other property. These will be used to help prove, and calculate your losses.
  • If an insurance carrier claims that the loss isn’t covered, ask the representative to point to the exact language in the policy upon which they are relying to deny your claim.
  • Keep all correspondence, including emails, that you have with an insurance company.
  • If you have phone calls related to your accident, keep a log with the day, and time of the call, and the name, and contact information of the person with whom you spoke. You should also summarize the content of that conversation.
  • Take pictures of any damage, including any physical injury. Pictures can help substantiate the severity of injuries.

Probation Violation

An arrest warrant can be issued if you fail to appear for a scheduled appointment with your probation officer, are missing from work, alcohol or drug treatment programs, or failed to take an alcohol or drug test. These are technical violations. The maximum punishment for a technical violation is a revocation of up to 2 years of your probation term to serve in jail. There is also a charge of violating one of the special conditions of probation, such as attending a DUI school or performing community service. The maximum penalty for violating a special condition is revocation of the full balance of the probation term, and returning to jail or prison.

A warrant can be issued if you commit a misdemeanor or felony during your probation term. The penalties include revocation of probation, requiring that you serve your entire sentence in jail.

You can check with your probation officer or contact the clerk of the court in the county where you reside to find out if you have an outstanding warrant. If you do have an outstanding warrant, you should call or email Michael Fulcher Law immediately to arrange for a fee consultation to understand what you need to do to protect your freedom.

You can be immediately arrested, and temporarily jailed. If you have committed a misdemeanor or felony, you can be jailed while awaiting trial on this new charge.

For technical violations, your probation supervisor has the power to determine what sanctions, if any, will be imposed for a first probation violation. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, a first offense might mean a written warning or more supervision. More serious first offenses might result in additional probation time, additional fines, and a return to jail or prison.

If your probation is revoked, the judge will determine what penalties to apply. With probation revoked, you might have to serve the rest of your sentence in jail or prison, minus the time you have already spent on probation. Violating probation is not itself an independent crime, but can still carry with it serious penalties. If the probation violation involved another misdemeanor or felony charge, then the probation violation will bring with it the rest of your sentence plus any new penalties resulting from the new offenses.

You have rights at a probation violation hearing. Probation cannot be revoked by a judge unless the state established by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged violations occurred. This standard is not as high as beyond a reasonable doubt, so the burden on the state is considerably less. Once the court determines that probation has been violated, the court can impose additional community service, more intensive probation supervision (with attendant increase in fees), or alternatives to incarceration. However, the court can also revoke probation, requiring that you return to jail or prison to serve the rest of your term behind bars.

If you are on probation for commission of a misdemeanor, your right to vote is not affected. However, upon conviction of a felony in Georgia, you are disqualified as a voter. Once your sentence has been served, your fine paid, and your probation or parole completed, your right to vote will be automatically restored. However, you must re-register to vote in order to actually vote.

Under new legislation, passed May 2021, once you have served at least 3 years of your probation, you might be eligible to early termination of probation, and reinstatement as a voter. To qualify, you must have:

  1. No new arrests other than non-serious traffic offenses
  2. No probation revocations in the past 24 months
  3. No restitution owed

If you qualify, your probation officer submits a probation termination order to the court that sentenced you. Within 30 days, the Court can grant the order to terminate your probation unless the prosecutor or the judge requests a hearing. That hearing must be scheduled within 90 days, at which time you will have a chance to explain why you should no longer be on probation. Once heard, the judge will rule to either terminate your probation early, or have you serve the full term.

If your probation is terminated early, you are eligible to vote again. However, you must re-register in order to actually vote.

Sales, and Distribution Offenses

Yes, it is—but first, the DA must prove that you were planning to give the drugs to other people. These cases commonly start with the discovery that the accused has a quantity of a controlled substance (which is itself a criminal offense) that is judged to be more than they needed for personal consumption.

More severe charges apply if the alleged offense occurred near a designated drug-free zone or close to a school, park, or housing project. This is a felony offense with a hefty $20,000 potential fine, even if it’s a first offense.

When an experienced distribution offense attorney takes on a new case, they will investigate all available options for reducing the charges that have been filed to the misdemeanor level. They will also do what they can to prevent initial charges from escalating.

That word “intent” makes a world of difference in distribution, and sales offense cases. Having an illegal controlled substance in your possession is a criminal offense, but “possession with intent to distribute” is a far more serious offense under Georgia legal statutes.

The charge of “intent to distribute” can be applied if it the accused person had acquired a certain quantity of a controlled substance and

  • Was planning to deliver this product to another person or persons
  • Was planning to transfer this product to a drop-off location so it could be distributed

If there is any indication that the defendant was getting paid to deliver or transfer the drugs, the charge will be jacked up to “intention to sell.” If other people were involved in any of these plans, the DA may try to push the charges to “drug conspiracy.”

Since it is so difficult to find evidential proof for intent to distribute offenses, these charges are often made based on the following reasoning:

  1. The defendant was discovered to have X amount of controlled substance Y
    1. On their person
    2. In their car
      1. They may have been driving on the Interstate to transport substance Y to a person or place for distribution
    3. In their home
  2. X amount is more than a person would use for personal consumption
  3. Since they have so much, they must be planning to disperse it to others

The legal system has adopted this approach in an attempt to nip drug dealing in the bud. If they could stop drugs from being distributed in the community, there would be less opportunity for people to use them, right? This is the justification behind Georgia law enforcement’s aggressive stop, and search activities on the interstate.

If a police officer discovers that someone has 10 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of their car, they might have reason to suspect this person is going to either distribute or sell it. The problem with this approach is clear to any experienced sales, and distribution offense attorney. Presumptions about circumstantial evidence can be inaccurate. Overzealous stop, and search missions can lead to the arrest of people whose only “crime” was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, the legal statutes for drug crimes have built-in triggers that can quickly change a misdemeanor offense into a felony charge, especially if there are mandatory sentencing guidelines attached.

The drug laws that are currently on the books in the state of Georgia are meant to safeguard the population from the harm caused by dangerous, addictive drugs. In the process, offenders sometimes get less than a fair shake when the court presumes they were acting with an intention to distribute or sell drugs. The penalties for these non-violent offenses can have devastating consequences for those convicted of distribution, and sales of controlled substances, even after they serve jail time, and pay crippling fines. Employment opportunities vanish. People lose their homes or their vehicles. Families end up saddled with debt.

Our courts are also set up to offer legal protections to anyone accused of a crime, and the promise of a fair trial. If you are facing illegal drug charges in Morgan County, you need a reputable sales, and distribution offense lawyer at your side. You have a lot at stake, so make sure you have legal counsel that will aggressively fight for the best outcome for your case.

Theft, and Armed Robbery

A conviction for armed robbery carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to 20 years in prison. A second conviction for armed robbery means life in prison. Criminal convictions from other states are considered by a Georgia judge in sentencing. Three felony convictions in Georgia or other states will justify a Georgia sentence of the maximum without possibility of parole.

To be convicted of the crime of theft, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a taking of personal property, belonging to another, and the taking away was done with the intent of gain without consent of the owner. Theft does not involve violence or the threat of violence, but can be achieved through trickery.

To be convicted of robbery, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a taking of personal property, belonging to another, by the use of force, intimidation, threat, or placing the other person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury to himself or another, or by sudden snatching. The threat of violence is without a weapon.

To be convicted of armed robbery, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a taking of property, belonging to another, and in the immediate presence of another. The taking away was accomplished by use of an offensive weapon, or any replica, article, or device that has the appearance of a weapon.

Upon conviction of a felony in Georgia, you are disqualified as a voter. Once your sentence has been served, your fine paid, and your probation or parole completed, your right to vote will be automatically restored. However, you must re-register to vote in order to do so.

Under the new legislation, passed May 2021, once you have served at least 3 years of your probation, you might be eligible for early termination of probation, and reinstatement as a voter. To qualify, you must have:

  1. No new arrests other than non-serious traffic offenses
  2. No probation revocations in the past 24 months
  3. No restitution owed

If you qualify, your probation officer submits a probation termination order to the court that sentenced you. Within 30 days, the Court can grant the order to terminate your probation unless the prosecutor or the judge requests a hearing. That hearing must be scheduled within 90 days, at which time you will have a chance to explain why you should no longer be on probation. Once heard, the judge will rule to either terminate your probation early or have you serve the full term.

If your probation is terminated early, you are eligible to vote again. However, you must re-register in order to actually vote.

The United States Constitution Bill of Rights, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees a criminal defendant specific rights. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches, and seizures of your property by police. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right to remain silent, and not to be compelled to give testimony that might convict you. The Sixth Amendment covers criminal trials. Its provisions include the right to a speedy, and public trial before an unbiased jury of peers. It requires that the charges be publicly brought, disallowing secret charges., and the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in a criminal prosecution, with a lawyer provided if you cannot afford one.

For a misdemeanor, the prosecution files an accusation, which is the official document charging the crime that you supposedly committed. An indictment is used to formally charge if a capital felony is made, meaning that a death sentence is a possible sentence upon conviction.

The accusation or indictment begins the criminal process. Next, you will appear at an arraignment where the charges are read, and you will be asked to enter a plea. You should be represented by criminal defense counsel at this arraignment. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you at that time.

The next hearing is when the defendant appears with a lawyer. The judge sets the motion schedule, plea deadline, and trial date. The motion schedule allows for the defense attorney to file any motions to exclude evidence, compel evidence, and identify witnesses. The plea deadline is the date by which any plea bargain is finalized, and ready to present to the judge for approval., and of course, there is the trial date, affording you the right to a public trial before a jury of peers.

Most cases do not go to trial for a variety of reasons. A skilled, and competent criminal defense lawyer knows how to negotiate with prosecutors after the discovery of all the evidence so that those negotiations take into consideration the strength of the prosecutor’s case; your prior criminal record, if any;, and of course, the nature of the crime. That plea bargain might lessen the charges, forego jail or prison time, mandate counseling or drug treatment, or pay restitution.

A trial can last for several days to over months, depending on the complexity of the charges, the number of defendants, and the amount of evidence that needs to be admitted. Most criminal trials are held before juries, although you can choose to have a trial before a judge alone. After the prosecution offers its case, the defense has an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, and to present a separate defense, if necessary. Sometimes the best defense is no defense, merely highlighting the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to create reasonable doubt. A trial ends with closing arguments, and instructions to the jury as to how to evaluate the facts in light of the applicable law.

A not guilty verdict results in the immediate release of the defendant from custody. The case is over.

A guilty verdict continues the judge’s role to sentencing., and a defendant can appeal a guilty verdict based on evidentiary or legal grounds.

Traffic Ticket

No, paying a traffic ticket in Georgia means pleading guilty to the offense. There are consequences that might be far-reaching, like probation, court costs, and fees, super speeder penalties, revocation or suspension of your driver’s license, points on your license, and information on any background check performed by a prospective employer or lender.

Your attorney can contest any mistakes in the ticket, even negotiating dismissal or reduction in charges. That dismissal or reduction in charges can mean a lot in terms of points on your license, and even your ability to drive. In addition, if there is accompanying criminal or civil liability, such a dismissal or reduction in charges can strengthen your defenses to any of these ancillary claims. An attorney can make appearances for you so that you are not missing work or school or family obligations.

Depending on the county or the offense, it is sometimes advisable to have your traffic ticket transferred to Superior Court. That decision is a complex one. To make the right decision requires an understanding of the local judges, and where you are most likely to get the best break, a realistic assessment of the strength of the prosecutor’s case, and the impact of a guilty plea or conviction on establishing criminal or civil liability. You need a skilled, and experienced lawyer to guide you through this important decision.

Violent Crimes

The FBI defines violent crime as murder, and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. These offenses involve force or the threat of force. Violent crime has been decreasing in frequency in Georgia from a high in 1989-1991. However, the murder rate in Georgia increased precipitously in 2021: a 44.2% increase from 2019 to 2020, the last year’s statistics are currently available. In 2020 there were 943 murders in Georgia, up from 654 the year before.

Hiring a qualified violent crime attorney to represent you or a loved one is an important decision. In asking these questions, listen carefully to the answers, and take the time to decide whether this lawyer seems like a good fit for you. These questions are intended to help you to get to know the prospective lawyer. Communication, compassion, knowledge of the law, and players, and fierce advocacy are qualities you should be looking for.

  1. How long have you been practicing law? With a felony conviction looming as a possibility, you want a lawyer with years of experience who knows how to navigate the criminal justice system, and whose experience leads you to trust him or her to guide you through each of the stages. Knowing the police, prosecutors, and judges allows for nuanced defense strategies. Knowing these players also prompts realistic plea negotiations with prosecutors., and because the stakes are so high, you want a lawyer who is an experienced trial attorney, with real experience cross-examining police officers, state experts, and eyewitnesses; who understand evidentiary law, a skill that is only achieved from courtroom experience;, and who has a way of connecting with the members of the jury so that they listen to your version of what happened.

  1. Where did you go to law school, and what are your professional credentials? Although law school is not determinative of savvy as a violent crime defense lawyer, it is one way to understand whom your lawyer knows, and how your lawyer is seen by others in the profession. Local law graduates often know more of the players than someone who went to school in another state. Ask about the attorney’s professional memberships, and whether teaching continuing legal education programs is part of your lawyer’s regular activities.

  1. How many cases have you handled like mine? Your lawyer’s understanding how the prosecution moves a case forward can provide you with a clearer roadmap, and more. Your lawyer’s experience will help you to trust his or her advice more because it is grounded in reality.

  1. What do you consider success in a case like mine? Find out whether your attorney has been successful in having charges dismissed, pleading clients to lesser charges, going to trial, and getting an acquittal, or losing at trial. What constitutes success depends on the facts of each case, and whether there are evidentiary, witness, or legal defenses that can exonerate you or lessen the penalties.

  1. How often do your cases go to trial? A question like this opens up a discussion about the steps your attorney will take to investigate the case, file motions pretrial to limit evidence and/or testimony, and how your lawyer approaches mandatory deadlines for plea bargains. Criminal trials are time-consuming, and expensive. They are not always the best route to take. Once again, it all depends on the facts of your case, and how an experienced attorney can use those facts to your benefit.

  1. How many times have you represented felony defendants in Walton County? The reputation of a violent crime lawyer means a lot within the criminal justice system, so you want to know how familiar your lawyer is with the judges, and prosecutors in this county, and the surrounding areas: Walton, Greene, Morgan, Jasper, Putnam, or Taliaferro Counties.

  1. Who will be working on my case? Find out how many lawyers work in the firm, whether there is an in-house investigator, and how lawyers are assigned to work on a case. In many larger firms, it is likely that an associate, a less experienced lawyer, will be doing at least some of the work on your case. Ask to meet that lawyer so that you can develop a rapport with everyone who will be defending you.

  1. Do I have a viable defense? You want a lawyer who will explain how a criminal case proceeds, and show you where the weaknesses might be found in the prosecution’s case. At the time you are hiring a lawyer, the case has not been fully developed. No one has yet seen the evidence, the witness lists, or various reports from toxicology, medical examiners, or other experts. Remember no one can promise you a specific outcome. But an experienced criminal defense attorney knows where to look for police, and prosecutor errors that erode the strength of the prosecution’s case against you.

  1. Do I have a role in my own defense? At a minimum, you will be asked to provide information, and documents, and might be asked to help in preparing questions to ask witnesses. You should never contact a witness or do legal work on your own. If out of custody, you might help your case by enrolling in an alcohol or drug treatment program, counseling, or maintaining employment so that your probation report reflects your capacity to live in society.

  1. How much will you charge to represent me? Up front you should understand the fee arrangement with any criminal defense attorney. Fees charged by a lawyer can be hourly, with different fees attaching to different members of the firm. You need to ask if you have to pay a retainer, an upfront payment to cover the start of representation.

Or a lawyer might charge a flat fee to represent you in pretrial proceedings up until trial, with a different arrangement if the case goes to a full trial. Some lawyers charge hourly for preparation with a daily fee for court appearances. In addition to lawyer’s fees, there may be witness costs, investigation costs, and court costs for transcripts.

Very few cases actually go to trial for a variety of reasons. The criminal justice system is already backlogged, with different counties having different realistic time periods in which a criminal case is resolved. If you are out of custody, a slower proceeding might be to your benefit, giving you, and your family a longer period to prepare for incarceration, if a plea negotiation requires a jail or prison sentence. Although full dismissal of all charges remains rare, your defense lawyer will engage in a thorough investigation into the facts of your case to give you a realistic appraisal of whether dismissal or pleading guilty to lesser charges is the right way to go. Developing a probation report that shows attention to any alcohol or drug problems or anger management, and which reflects steady employment, and a stable home environment will certainly help with sentencing. Again, here is where experience counts in a violent crime defense lawyer.

The United States Constitution Bill of Rights, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees a criminal defendant specific rights. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches, and seizures of your property by police. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right to remain silent, and not to be compelled to give testimony that might convict you. The Sixth Amendment covers criminal trials. Its provisions include the right to a speedy, and public trial before an unbiased jury of peers. It requires that the charges be publicly brought, disallowing secret charges., and the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in a criminal prosecution, with a lawyer provided if you cannot afford one.

For a misdemeanor, the prosecution files an information, which is the official document charging the crime that you supposedly committed. An indictment is used to formally charge if a capital felony is made, meaning that a death sentence is a possible sentence upon conviction.

The information or indictment begins the criminal process. Next, you will appear at an arraignment where the charges are read, and you will be asked to enter a plea. You should be represented by criminal defense counsel at this arraignment. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you at that time.

The next hearing is when the defendant appears with a lawyer. The judge sets the motion schedule, plea deadline, and trial date. The motion schedule allows for the defense attorney to file any motions to exclude evidence, compel evidence, and identify witnesses. The plea deadline is the date by which any plea bargain is finalized, and ready to present to the judge for approval., and of course, there is the trial date, affording you the right to a public trial before a jury of peers.

Most cases do not go to trial for a variety of reasons. A skilled, and competent criminal defense lawyer knows how to negotiate with prosecutors after discovery of all the evidence, so that those negotiations take into consideration the strength of the prosecutor’s case; your prior criminal record, if any;, and of course, the nature of the crime. That plea bargain might lessen the charges, forego jail or prison time, mandate counseling or drug treatment, or pay restitution.

A trial can last for several days to over months, depending on the complexity of the charges, the number of defendants, and the amount of evidence that needs to be admitted. Most criminal trials are held before juries, although you can choose to have a trial before a judge alone. After the prosecution offers its case, the defense has an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, and to present a separate defense, if necessary. Sometimes the best defense is no defense, merely highlighting the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to create reasonable doubt. A trial ends with closing arguments, and instructions to the jury as to how to evaluate the facts in light of the applicable law.

A not guilty verdict results in the immediate release of the defendant from custody. The case is over.

A guilty verdict continues the judge’s role to sentencing., and a defendant can appeal a guilty verdict based on evidentiary or legal grounds.

Weapons Charges

Michael Fulcher Law knows all kinds of criminal law, including weapons law, with over 15-years experience as a prosecutor, public defender, and privately retained defense counsel. That experience includes a deep understanding of law, criminal procedure, and familiarity with all of the players—police, prosecutors, and judges—in Morgan, Greene, Putnam, Taliaferro, and Jasper Counties.

Michael Fulcher Law will fiercely defend your legal rights, and defenses, honestly assess the strength of the prosecution’s case, and advise you on a course of action that is in your best interests.

With offices in Madison, and Monroe, we are conveniently located. To accommodate you, we can also arrange for a confidential teleconference.

Weapons offenses can be charged as federal or state crimes. Let’s look at federal categories of weapons offenses.

Federal weapons laws, like Georgia state laws, prohibit certain categories of individuals from possessing weapons. These individuals include: any convicted felon, a fugitive from justice, an alcohol or drug addict, someone who has been adjudicated as mentally incompetent, an immigrant who remains in the United States without documentation, someone discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions, someone who has renounced his or her United States citizenship, someone who is subject to a restraining order for harassing an intimate partner or child;, and someone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

It is a crime, under federal law, to knowingly sell or give a firearm to any of these prohibited people. It is also a crime to sell or give a firearm to a juvenile.

Under federal law, another category of offense relates to how one gains possession of a firearm or other weapon. It is illegal to give a false statement on a record of a gun purchase. It is illegal to possess a stolen firearm, ammunition, or explosive.

And how the weapon is used can be the basis for a prosecution: using a weapon while committing a drug felony or other federal crime of violence can be separately charged with a separate sentence. One can be charged in a drive-by shooting.

And federal charges can lodge for illegal manufacture of a weapon, or importing, and dealing weapons without a license.

Armed robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force, with the use of a weapon. There is grave potential for harm, therefore, the penalties are harsh, if convicted. The weapon need not be used in order to be charged. The weapon could have been a toy gun or an object made to look like a weapon to be the basis for a criminal charge., and no weapon need be used to constitute armed robbery, if your gestures, like holding your hand inside a pocket, make it seem like you have a concealed weapon. Armed robbery is always charged as a felony.

Sentencing is harsh with up to 20 years in prison, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty, depending on the circumstance of the armed robbery. As a prior felon, no matter where in the United States, your sentence in Georgia upon conviction will result in a maximum sentence., and if you have three felony convictions anywhere in the United States, a conviction for armed robbery in Georgia, will result in a life sentence.

Unlike federal law, which prohibits possession of firearms after a conviction for domestic violence or while under a court-issued protective order, Georgia law is more permissive. Currently, Georgia permits persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to continue to possess firearms. However, possessing a firearm in this situation will still violate federal law, and that will be considered a violation of your probation which subjects you to revocation, confinement, and other penalties.

Although the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to own guns, and other firearms, that right is not unlimited, according to interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court, and individual State’s Supreme Courts. Georgia can require that you obtain a license to carry a revolver or pistol. Georgia can restrict the kinds of weapons residents are allowed to own, banning sawed-off weapons, bazookas, machine guns, and silencers., and convicted felons can be prevented from having access to firearms, and other weapons.

Ordinarily a misdemeanor DUI conviction will not affect your right to possess firearms. However, if your blood alcohol level was 0.08% or higher, and you discharged a weapon, you can have your right to possess a firearm, and any license to carry a concealed weapon revoked.

A felony conviction for DUI can mean revocation of your right to possess firearms. Any felony conviction under federal law means you are not allowed to possess firearms. However, under Georgia law, a judge can impose as a condition of probation or parole for a felony conviction for DUI a prohibition against possessing firearms during the term of the probation or parole.

Upon conviction of a felony in Georgia, you are disqualified as a voter. Once your sentence has been served, your fine paid, and your probation or parole completed, your right to vote will be automatically restored. However, you must re-register to vote in order to actually vote.

Under new legislation, passed May 2021, once you have served at least 3 years of your probation, you might be eligible to early termination of probation, and reinstatement as a voter. To qualify, you must have:

  1. No new arrests other than non-serious traffic offenses
  2. No probation revocations in the past 24 months
  3. No restitution owed

If you qualify, your probation officers submits a probation termination order to the court that sentenced you. Within 30 days, the Court can grant the order to terminate your probation unless the prosecutor or the judge requests a hearing. That hearing must be scheduled within 90 days, at which time you will have a chance to explain why you should no longer be on probation. Once heard, the judge will rule to either terminate your probation early, or have you serve the full term.

If your probation is terminated early, you are eligible to vote again. However, you must re-register in order to actually vote.

The law protects the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship. Therefore, you should answer all the questions your lawyer asks, knowing that your privacy will be honored. Hiding important facts, even facts that you might not think are significant, can impair your defense. Listen to the questions, and answer them fully, and honestly. Criminal defense attorneys have heard it all, and most are not judgmental, because they understand the complexity of human nature.

Don’t make the same mistake that got you arrested. A second arrest during a criminal prosecution can adversely affect the outcome in both prosecutions. If out on bail, this is a time to clean up your act.

Do not talk with anyone about the circumstances of the crime except your lawyer, and employees or contractors hired by your lawyer. You can speak with your spouse, clergy, doctor, or therapist privately because privilege protects the confidentiality of these conversations. But telling a version of what happened to a friend, your children, employer, police officers, or investigators provides additional evidence, even if you believe what you are saying is exonerating.

When in doubt, call your lawyer!

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When you need a lawyer after being charged with a DUI or criminal offense or as you explore your options for filing a personal injury claim, look no further than Michael Fulcher Law’s impressive background, and ultra-attentive client service. To learn more about how we can help you achieve the best legal solution possible for your circumstances, call our criminal defense law firm at (706) 438-1555 or contact us online, and schedule your free consultation today.

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“Mr. Fulcher has been tremendously helpful with my case. Since hiring him he has consistently returned my calls as quickly as he can. We discussed an ideal outcome, and I set about doing exactly as he said. Following his advice we were able to get a very favorable outcome. He is always quick to answer any questions, and has stayed very engaged with me throughout this ordeal. Michael provides excellent counsel, and I would recommend him to anyone!”

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