Finding yourself caught in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system can be extremely stressful and worrying. Whether you are guilty or fully innocent of the crime you are being accused of, your freedom and future hang in the balance. This is why it is crucial that you have a highly knowledgeable and skilled Atlanta criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
If you have been arrested or are being investigated for a crime in Atlanta, you need to get in touch with our highly capable criminal defense attorneys at the SHElaw firm® as soon as possible. We are highly competent in handling even the most complex criminal cases and have a reputation for securing the best results for our clients. We can do the same for you.
Your Legal Rights as a Criminal Defendant in Georgia
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you have been arrested for a crime is that you are entitled to certain rights under the law that are meant to protect you. These rights are contained in various amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
As part of their defense strategy, your attorney will assess whether any of your rights as a defendant were violated, such as:
Fourth Amendment Rights
The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens against unwarranted searches or unjustified seizures by law enforcement personnel. Prior to making an arrest, the police must have probable cause to stop you and carry out an unwarranted search.
It stipulates that the police need to obtain a warrant from a judge to make any search or seizure. Any evidence against you that is collected through improper means cannot be admitted in court.
Fifth Amendment Rights
This Amendment ensures your right to remain silent, otherwise known as Miranda rights. The right to remain silent helps to protect you against self-incrimination. While you may have to identify yourself to the police, you are under no legal obligation to respond to questions regarding the crime you are being accused of. You can also choose to remain silent during your trial.
The Fifth Amendment also offers protection against double jeopardy. What this means is that you cannot be prosecuted more than once for the same crime.
It also guarantees your right to a fair trial.
Sixth Amendment Rights
Here are some of the important rights provided to criminal defendants under the Sixth Amendment:
- The right to legal representation or the right to an attorney.
- The right to a public trial by a jury of your peers.
- The right to have family members, friends, and the press present during your trial.
- The right to a speedy trial without unnecessary delays.
- The right to know the nature of the charges and evidence against you.
- The right to know and face your accuser and witnesses in court.
Eighth Amendment Rights
The Eighth Amendment ensures your right to post bail and also offers protection against excessive fines or bail amounts and cruel and unusual punishment. It makes it illegal for the court to hand down unreasonable punishments based on personal feelings or prejudices against the defendant.
What Is a Misdemeanor vs a Felony in Georgia?
The state of Georgia classifies crimes into misdemeanors and felonies based on their severity. Generally, misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies and carry less stringent punishment.
Georgia statute O.C.G.A. 17-10-3 defines a misdemeanor as any crime that is punishable by a maximum jail term of 12 months or a maximum fine of $1,000 or both. This jail term is served in a city or county jail. An example of a misdemeanor in Georgia is a DUI or theft of property worth less than $500.
A felony is a more serious criminal offense compared to a misdemeanor. A felony carries a minimum prison sentence of 12 months, and serious felonies are punishable by life in prison or death. A felony conviction can also result in the loss of certain civil rights.
Should I Talk to an Attorney Before Speaking to the Police?
Yes! It is imperative that you get in touch with an attorney immediately after you are put under police custody. Exercise your right to remain silent until you receive guidance from your attorney.
Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Also, the police are known to use deceitful tactics to get a confession out of you. An attorney will help ensure that you don’t incriminate yourself.
What Is the Habitual Offender Law?
The habitual offender law is a law that gives the court the right to hand down more severe punishments based on previous convictions. The state of Georgia defines a repeat offender as anyone who has been convicted of three or more felonies in the last five years. The habitual offender law is meant to deter repeat offenders.
How Can an Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?
Perhaps the smartest and most impactful decision you can make when facing a criminal charge is enlisting the services of an experienced Atlanta criminal defense lawyer. There is a lot that a criminal defense attorney does to ensure the best outcome possible for your case:
When you reach out to us, the first step we take is to carefully evaluate the specifics of your case and advise you on the best course of action. We will then conduct a comprehensive investigation into your case and gather all the relevant information and evidence to build the strongest defense for you.
Many criminal cases end without going to trial by entering a plea bargain. Plea bargains are particularly ideal in cases where the evidence against you is overwhelming or you have little chance of success in a court of law.
Through a plea bargain, you can reduce the number and severity of your charges, minimize your potential punishment, and possibly even avoid jail or prison time and other consequences. An attorney will be able to determine whether entering a plea bargain is a good option in your case, and will help reach the most favorable agreement.
Ability to Gauge Case Outcomes
Through their experience and knowledge of the law, and based on the specific circumstances of your case, an attorney will be able to determine the most probable outcome in your case and advise you accordingly.
Knowledge of Law & Court Rules
When dealing with a criminal charge in Georgia, you need someone who has in-depth knowledge of the law and is familiar with the local court rules and procedures. This will help them to identify any loopholes and rights violations that can be used in your favor.
Our attorneys at the SHElaw firm® have extensive experience tackling complex criminal cases in court. We are your best bet when it comes to securing the best outcome in your Atlanta criminal case. Through our help, many criminal defendants have been able to successfully secure their freedom and future – we can do the same for you.
What Is the Cost of Legal Representation?
How much it will cost you to retain the services of an experienced Atlanta criminal defense lawyer will vary significantly depending on the type of your case, the severity of the crime involved, your attorney’s level of experience, your financial situation, and whether the case goes to trial, among other factors.
Is There a Benefit to Having a Private Attorney vs. a Court-Appointed Attorney?
When facing a criminal charge, it is in your best interest that you choose a private attorney rather than settling for a court-appointed attorney. It is important to note that at any given time, public attorneys are almost always simultaneously dealing with a boatload of cases, which significantly reduces their effectiveness.
It is almost impossible for them to give your case the time, attention, and resources to secure the most favorable outcome. According to reports, over 90% of all cases handled by public defenders end in plea bargains due to the need to quickly resolve the high number of cases they are handling.
A private attorney is in a better position to give your case the time and resources needed to realize success.
Can You Represent Yourself?
U.S. citizens have a right to represent themselves during criminal court proceedings. However, for your own sake, it is best not to go this route, especially if you are not familiar with the law. Even if you believe you are innocent, the smallest mistakes can lead to serious consequences.
Prosecutors are usually determined to make as many convictions as possible and will gladly tear your case apart. So, always lawyer up!
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
There are a number of important things to know about plea bargains before you choose to accept entering one. A plea bargain is where you voluntarily plead guilty to a crime and in exchange, the prosecutor reduces the number of charges against you, reduces the severity of a charge, or recommends a specific punishment to the judge.
However, this means that you will have a criminal conviction on your record. Also, the judge still retains the right to give the punishment they deem fit. An attorney will be able to advise you on whether entering a plea bargain will lead to the best possible outcome.
Appealing a Conviction in Georgia
Fortunately, you have the automatic right to appeal the ruling in your case in case you are unsatisfied with the outcome. You have 30 days from the date of your first sentence to file a Notice of Appeal. Our Atlanta criminal defense attorneys will help guide you through the process and ensure everything is done correctly.
Reach Out to an Experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer!
Undoubtedly, facing a criminal charge is one of the most terrifying legal issues you can find yourself dealing with. The possibility of losing your freedom and destroying your personal and professional life can weigh heavily on anyone.
If you or a loved one is in such a predicament, you need quality and effective legal representation from a dedicated Atlanta criminal defense attorney. Our legal team at the SHElaw firm® is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for you, ensuring that you protect your rights, freedom, and future. Reach out to us by calling 470-378-1162 and let us fight your case for you.