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Lady Justice Georgia’s New Hate Crime Legislation

Georgia recently passed a new Hate Crimes Bill.  The new legislation imposes additional sentencing on a criminal defendant who commits a crime of hate based upon race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability.  Georgia had passed a hate crime bill back in 2004 that was stuck down as Unconstitutional for being too broad and vague.

The New Hate Crimes Bill increases the punishment for those convicted under the Statute.  A criminal defendant convicted under the new law would face an additional six-to-twelve months in prison and a fine up to $5,000 for a variety of misdemeanor offenses.  For a felony offense prison sentences are increased to at least two-years in jail.

Georgia Court System Georgia Criminal Defense Procedure

If you are being investigated for a crime or have been charged with a crime in Georgia, you need to know the criminal justice process you may be facing.  As a criminal lawyer based in Atlanta, I have helped thousands of clients defend cases throughout Georgia.

The criminal procedure you face will depend largely on where you are arrested and the charges you are facing.  A misdemeanor in Atlanta Municipal Court for instance, has a different procedure than a Felony or even a misdemeanor in Fulton or Cobb County.

handcuffs-308897_960_720Georgia’s Second Chance Law Begins

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Georgia are praising the new law Georgia “Second Chance,” law that goes into effect on January 1, 2021.  Georgia Senate Bill 288 passed in June of 2020 expands the Georgia Expungement Rules for those who have committed nonviolent misdemeanor offenses.  Georgia’s law regarding criminal history has always been one of the most restrictive in the country.  Until now, you needed a pardon to be have your nonviolent criminal record expunged.  The bill allows for two misdemeanors to be expunged.

Crimes staying on a permanent record make it harder to find employment, are often racially biased, and affect housing, voting rights, and the Second Amendment Right to own a firearm.  These laws are a huge Scarlet A on the chest of nonviolent offenders who do not commit additional crimes from fully living the American Dream.  The law is a basic human and American Right.  Once  you serve your sentence for a crime, you should not face debilitating collateral consequences that hurt you financially, civically, politically, and more for the rest of your life. For instance, there are almost 300,000 citizens of Georgia on probation who cannot vote.

What are the Georgia Hit and Run Laws

Hit & Run Depiction
Hit and Runs are essentially leaving the scene of any accident and you can be charged criminally as well as incur civil(money damages), as a result of a failure to stop. A driver in the State of Georgia has an affirmative duty to stop and render assistance during a traffic accident.  Failure to stop and render aid can lead to significant criminal felony or misdemeanor charges. Unfortunately there have a been a string of Hit and Run incidents recently in and around Atlanta:

Hit & Run on GA400 

What Are Valid Warrant Requirements

Search Warrant

Search Warrant

Recently Fulton County Prosecutors tried to obtain records of the ex-cop charged with murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.  Brook’s death lead to riots in Atlanta and Fulton County.  The State was oddly trying to obtain records of donations to a fundraising account set up by the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization, a non-profit organization, that set-up an account on it’s website to defend Rolfe against the murder charges.  To date, approximately $500,000 has been raised on the site.  The District Attorney argued they wanted the information from the fundraising site to argue that Rolfe may try to skip bail.  The judge the case found that the State lacked probable cause to issue a warrant and denied the prosecutions request for a warrant.  Here is an article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution detailing the warrant request by the Fulton County DA, the response by Rolfe’s criminal defense attorneys, and the judge’s reasoning in the warrant denial: https://www.ajc.com/news/fulton-da-is-denied-warrant-to-probe-garrett-rolfe-fundraising-site/RL2U53UULVET5NW5N2ESYJKDHI/

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Johns Creek, Georgia

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The municipal city of Johns Creek has taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession according to this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Public officials in favor of the municipal ordinance want to decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.  Those who have less than an ounce of marijuana would face no jail time and a maximum of a $75 dollar fine.

The current simple possession of marijuana ordinance is up to one-year in jail and up to a $1,000 dollar fine.  It is important to note that this change would not legalize marijuana.  The State of Georgia does not allow for cities to legalize the possession of marijuana and you could still face State or Federal charges depending on whether you were arrested by State police, on Federal property, or if you were charged with a felony count as well.

What is Bail? Answers From an Atlanta, Georgia Criminal Lawyer

Georgia Bail Reform Picture
Bail is money and/or property paid to the Court that is intended to ensure a criminal defendant’s return to court for the alleged crimes.  It is a conditional release from jail, pending trial or resolution of a criminal matter.  Bail is required in almost all criminal cases in some form.  The more serious the crime, the higher the Bail.  In certain serious cases, where it is likely a defendant may try to skip bail and hide from prosecution, or after committing a new offense while on probation for a previous crime, Bail may be denied by a Judge. In some situations a defendant is unable to afford Bail and lacks the ability to pay a Bail Bondsman.  In these situations it is likely a person accused of a crime will sit in jail pending resolution of his/her criminal proceedings.  Some criminal cases can take years.  Thus, some criminal defendant’s end up languishing in jail for years awaiting a trial.  An important caveat to the above, there is no Bail in Family Court, and a child accused of delinquency can be held in detention or sent home with their parents pending court resolution.

How Much is Bail

What is Zoom-Bombing

Juvenile Computer Hacker

Zoom-Bombing Juvenile

Zoom bombing is real and new.  Many younger juveniles may consider it a prank.  It can have serious legal and criminal consequences.  Zoom bombing is a rather new phenomenon and an interesting problem for criminal defense attorneys.  In today’s new world, during the Covid-19 pandemic and with schools and workplaces utilizing more technology than ever, a prank on the SaaS Zoom platform can land you in real hot water with authorities.  And unfortunately, a Zoom-Bomb prank can have life-long legal ramifications.  In the last two weeks there have been at least two Zoom-Bombing incidents in local  Gwinnett County Schools:

Atlanta, Georgia Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Defense Lawyer

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According to the American Civil Liberties Union, approximately 60,000 children are incarcerated in prisons or some juvenile detention facility throughout American every day!  In Georgia alone, there are 185 per 100,000 youth incarcerated.

Juveniles constitute 1,200 of the 1.5 million people housed in federal and state prisons in this country, and nearly 200,000 youth enter the adult criminal-justice system each year, most for non-violent crimes. On any given day, 10,000 juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails.

Atlanta, Georgia Juvenile Diversion Programs and Benefits

By Attorney Thomas Nagel — Juvenile Delinquency & Criminal Defense Advocate

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Every year more and more of our children are suffering from circumstances beyond their immediate control.  Whether it is mental health, poverty, fatherless homes, or drug abuse, our children are being subjected to delinquency and criminal charges in Atlanta and throughout the Great State of Georgia.

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