Criminal Law in Georgia
If you or a loved one is being questioned in connection with a crime or has been arrested, it’s likely one of the scariest times of your life – with good reason.
It’s imperative that you seek legal help immediately. Ask the local bar association for a referral or do an Internet search for “How to find a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney.”
Next, we’ll provide background information on Georgia criminal law that you may find helpful. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Georgia criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Georgia; and
- How to work with your Georgia criminal defense attorney.
Georgia Criminal Laws
Certain actions or inactions are classified as crimes in an attempt to prevent harm.
Georgia criminal laws are found in the Criminal Code of Georgia (aka Georgia Code – Crimes and Offenses – Title 16).Criminal statutes (i.e. written laws)define unlawful conduct that is punishable.
Bribery, embezzlement, computer crimes, cyber stalking, assault, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, gambling, extortion, credit card fraud, and identity theft are all examples of behaviors that have been classified as criminal in Georgia.
Statute of Limitations
If the statute of limitations (i.e. time limit) has passed in a case, charges cannot be brought.
For example, in Georgia, the statute of limitations for:
- Forcible Rape is 15 years.
- A Misdemeanor is 2 years.
- Crimes against victims, under the age of 14,are 18 years.
If criminal laws are not honored, punishment, jail time, fines, restitution, education, and counseling may be ordered.
While Georgia judges have total discretion in sentencing those convicted of a crime, they usually use a point system to analyze the circumstances of a case and then apply Georgia state sentencing guidelines. Past criminal history and violence are considered when handing down punishment.
For example, in Georgia, sentencing guidelines call for:
- Less than a year of jail time and no more than $1,000 fine for conviction of a misdemeanor.
- Less than one year of jail time and not more than $5,000 in fines for an aggravated misdemeanor.
- More than one year of jail time and more than $1,000 in fines for conviction of a felony.
Your criminal defense lawyer will give you a sentence range appropriate for your individual situation.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
- You need to be represented by legal counsel whether you know you’re innocent or guilty.
- Hire an attorney right away. A “wait and see” approach is much too dangerous.
- If police do not allow you to leave the police station or wherever you are, you have been arrested and you need a lawyer.
- Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it to your attorney.
- Answer all your attorney’s questions completely and honestly. Your future depends on it.
- Your words can be used against you by police, but not by your attorney.
How to Work with a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer
Remember your criminal defense attorney is always working in your best interests.
- All communications with your attorney are strictly confidential.
- Answer each and every question your lawyer asks you. It’s okay if some of the questions make you feel uncomfortable; it’s all for a good cause = you and your future.
- Explain exactly what happened. Include details that put you in a bad light.
- Return all phone calls in a timely manner.
- Provide all requested documentation and information promptly.
- Stay in contact with your attorney’s office.
- Update your current address and phone number if they change.
- Expect your attorney to be polite and cooperative with the police and prosecutors. It’s part of the job and benefits you.
Qualified Georgia criminal defense lawyers know Georgia criminal law, understand the specific criminal charges against you, and know how to best analyze your case and put forward a strong and strategic defense. It’s okay to call for legal help anytime of the day or night.