Once you’ve been charged with a crime, you officially become a criminal defendant, whether innocent or guilty of the offense. Among all the legal issues you can face as a US citizen, a criminal charge is perhaps the most terrifying, especially when you don’t know what to expect.
The potential consequences of a criminal conviction include loss of employment opportunities, limited housing options, loss of personal and professional reputation, loss of certain civil rights, and so on. This is in addition to a potentially lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines.
You want to avoid suffering any of these consequences or at the very least minimize the impact of a conviction on your life. It is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced Belvedere Park criminal defense attorney.
Our highly skilled attorneys at SHElaw firm® have in-depth knowledge of Georgia criminal law and have years of experience helping defendants. We are committed to helping you protect your rights, freedom, and future. With us, you are guaranteed the best possible outcome in your case.
What Are Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant in Georgia?
As a criminal defendant in the state of Georgia, you are entitled to certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. These rights are in place to ensure that you are treated fairly in the event that you are suspected or arrested for a crime, and they are contained in several amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment Rights
Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement agencies are prohibited from conducting any unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. This means that the police need to have probable cause to search your person, home, or property. Additionally, they need to first seek a warrant from a judge before they can legally enter your property in search of evidence.
Any evidence that is deemed to have been obtained illegally isn’t admissible in court.
The Fifth Amendment Rights
The Fifth Amendment protects U.S. citizens against being prosecuted or punished without being given due process. It guarantees your right to remain silent, also known as the Miranda Rights.
This right protects you against self-incrimination by choosing to stay silent when being questioned by the police during your arrest or interview; or by a prosecutor at trial.
The Fifth Amendment also provides the right to a fair trial. It also guarantees your right against double jeopardy. This right protects you from being tried more than once for the same crime.
The Sixth Amendment Rights
Under the Sixth Amendment, criminal defendants in the U.S. have the right to legal representation – you can choose to hire your own attorney, have a court-appointed attorney, or represent yourself.
This amendment also guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial. They also possess the right to know the nature of the criminal charges brought against them and their accusers. They also have the right to confront their accusers in court. This allows you to counter any testimony given against you.
The Eighth Amendment Rights
The Eighth Amendment protects you against excessive fines and bail amounts as well as unusual or cruel punishment. In short, the punishment should fit the crime. The court is strictly prohibited from giving out any unreasonable punishment based on their prejudices against the accused or on their personal feelings.
What Is a Misdemeanor vs a Felony in Georgia?
Not all crimes are the same and they tend to vary in severity. The State of Georgia categorizes crimes into two classes: misdemeanors and felonies. Generally, misdemeanor crimes are the less serious of the two and carry less severe consequences.
Georgia statute O.C.G.A 17-10-3 defines a misdemeanor as a crime legally punishable by a one-year maximum jail term or a fine of not more than $1,000. In the state of Georgia, time for misdemeanor crimes is served in city or county jails.
Felonies are more serious crimes that carry more severe penalties including a prison sentence of not less than 12 months, life imprisonment, and even death. It also includes the loss of certain civil rights like the right to bear arms and the right to carry certain state licenses.
One big difference between cases involving misdemeanor charges and those involving felony charges is that those involving misdemeanor charges cannot include a jury trial while those involving felony charges can involve a jury trial.
Should I Consult a Lawyer Before Speaking to the Police?
It is highly recommended that you first consult an attorney before talking to the police. In reference to the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to stay silent while being questioned by the police. You are under no obligation to provide the police with any information about the crime you are being accused of.
Remember, what you say can and will be used against you. Refusing to talk to the police doesn’t mean that you are guilty, rather, you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right. An attorney will be able to guide you on what and what not to say.
What Is the Habitual Offender Law?
The habitual offender law is a special law that gives the judge the power to impose stricter penalties on repeat offenders. In Georgia, one is considered a habitual offender if they have committed at least three felony offenses in the past five years.
The judge will modify their judgment based on their criminal track record. The law is meant to discourage repeat offenders.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
The importance of having an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing a criminal charge can not be overstated. It is crucial that you get a lawyer involved as soon as you realize that you are being investigated for a crime or as soon as you are arrested.
Here’s how a Belvedere Park criminal defense attorney can help your case:
Our first step when handling your case will be to carefully assess the details of your case, provide you with the relevant legal advice and then commence an independent and thorough investigation into the case. This will help us establish the facts of the case, and collect as much information and evidence as possible to build a solid defense for you.
Depending on the facts of your case, entering a plea bargain might be the best option to secure the most favorable outcome for you, especially if there is substantial evidence to put you at fault for the offense. Our attorneys will draw on their long-standing experience and impeccable negotiation skills to reach a favorable plea bargain on your behalf.
Ability to Gauge Case Outcomes
Through their in-depth knowledge of the law combined with their experience handling Georgia criminal cases, our attorneys will be able to more accurately determine the most likely outcome in your specific case and advise you accordingly.
Knowledge of Law & Court Rules
When dealing with a Georgia criminal case, you need to seek the assistance of someone who has a clear understanding of Georgia criminal law and is familiar with local court rules and procedures. Such an attorney will also be familiar with the judge and prosecutor in your case and how they operate, which will significantly help give you an advantage in the case.
Our criminal defense attorneys at SHElaw firm® have years of experience tackling criminal cases in court. We have a proven track record of successfully defending our clients and helping them safeguard their freedom and future.
What Is the Cost of Legal Representation?
How much it will cost you to secure the services of an experienced Belvedere Park criminal defense attorney will vary depending on the type and severity of the case, the attorney’s experience as well as your financial status. The cost will be higher if your case goes to trial.
Is There a Benefit to Having a Private Attorney vs. a Court-Appointed Attorney?
When it comes to choosing between using a court-appointed attorney or a private attorney, you are always better off using a private attorney for the following reasons.
To begin with, court-appointed attorneys tend to be dealing with a large number of cases at any one time and it may be difficult for them to fully commit to your case.
A private attorney who is dealing with far fewer clients will be able to dedicate more time and resources to your case, giving you a better chance of success in the case.
A private attorney also has access to better and more resources that can help in your case. They will also be able to offer you more support and personalized service giving you a better overall experience.
Can You Represent Yourself?
While you have the legal right to represent yourself at trial, you should never attempt to do so during a criminal trial. Not only is it incredibly stressful and hectic, but this option also has a significantly limited chance of success.
Without the necessary legal knowledge and experience, you will almost certainly lose the case and end up suffering more severe consequences than if you had an attorney.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
As noted, a plea bargain may be your best option based on the specific circumstances of your case. However, in some cases, fighting your case in court might be the better option, especially if the evidence is strongly in your favor.
An attorney will be able to help you determine whether a plea bargain is a good option in your case.
Appealing a Conviction in Georgia
If you’ve been found guilty of a crime and are unsatisfied with the outcome or punishment, you have the right to appeal the decision. You will need to file an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals.
For a murder case, you will need to file an appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court. This should be done within 30 days of the judgment becoming final.
An Experienced Belvedere Park Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help!
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, you absolutely need the best representation you can get. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be severe and lifelong.
Whether you believe you are guilty or innocent, an experienced attorney at SHElaw firm® will be able to secure the best outcome for you. call us today at 470-378-1162 for the best legal representation in Belvedere Park.