Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, the stress and trauma can be so overwhelming that it is difficult to even think about what to do next.
Michael Saul, a Georgia criminal defense attorney, will guide you through the complex process of navigating the criminal justice system. We have the knowledge and experience to build a strong defense and obtain the best results possible. Michael Saul handles criminal cases in both the Federal Courts and the Georgia Courts.
We will help you pursue justice and win back your life.
In Georgia, all crimes punishable by a sentence of one year or more in prison are considered felonies under the law. Conversely, misdemeanor sentences are usually served in the county or local jails and are twelve months or less in length.
Unlike many states, Georgia does not distinguish crimes by class, such as “Class B felony” or “Class 1 felony”. Instead, Georgia’s laws designate crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors and impose sentences on a case-by-case basis, allowing Georgia courts to sentence individuals based on the unique factors related to their cases. However, in Georgia, some crimes are typically classified by degree, such as first, second, and third-degree.
Murder is the most severe felony and is punishable by death or, like other serious felonies, life imprisonment. Other serious crimes, including kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, and sex crimes, are punishable by a minimum of 10 or 25 years in prison. Less severe crimes, such as theft crimes, are punishable by shorter prison terms.
Examples of felonies in Georgia include:
- Armed robbery
In Georgia, a misdemeanor offense is a crime punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Misdemeanor offenses include certain shoplifting charges, DUI, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and public intoxication.
A misdemeanor can be “upgraded” to a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor offense under certain circumstances; in most, cases this occurs when a person has been convicted of the same crime multiple times in a specified period.
Some offenses are classified as high and aggravated even when the offender has no prior criminal history. Aggressive driving (i.e., road rage), fleeing or eluding a police officer, and battery against a pregnant woman is classified as high and aggravated misdemeanor offenses.
For a misdemeanor charge, during sentencing, the judge has the discretion to order jail time, probation with mandatory reporting and monthly fees, fines, restitution, community service, substance abuse counseling, classes, and the suspension of your driver’s license.
While all Georgia crimes carry penalties and a certain amount of shame and scorn, violent crimes are especially serious and carry particularly harsh sentences. The use of physical force against another that leads to injury or death most often leads to severe penalties, including lengthy incarceration, financial penalties, and a long-lasting negative impact on the convicted.
Violent crimes in Georgia include:
- Child molestation
- Aggravated child molestation
- Rape and other sexual offenses
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated assault
- Domestic violence
- Aggravated stalking
- Armed robbery
There are a wide variety of sex crimes that may be charged in Georgia. Some are considered misdemeanors, and others require the offender to spend long sentences in prison and then remain on the sex offender registry for life. If you have been charged with a sex crime in Georgia, it is essential to immediately contact Georgia criminal defense attorney Michael Saul.
Sex crimes in Georgia include:
- Sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority
- Sexual battery
- Solicitation of sodomy
- Statutory rape
- Enticing a child for indecent purposes
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Giving massages in places
- Harboring, concealing, or withholding information concerning a sex offender
- Keeping a place of prostitution
- Masturbation for hire
- Public indecency
- Publication of name or identity of a rape victim
- Aggravated child molestation
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Aggravated sodomy
- Bestiality and necrophilia
- Bigamy and marrying a bigamist
- Child molestation
Theft is the act of taking another person’s property illegally and intentionally, and it does not matter how the property was taken. Most theft crimes are considered misdemeanors, but if the stolen property’s value is more than $500, then you may face felony charges and a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Types of theft in Georgia include:
- Theft by conversion
- Theft by deception
- Theft by taking
- Theft by receiving stolen property
- Theft by extortion
Drug Possession, Distribution, and Trafficking
In Georgia, the main types of drug crimes include possession, possession with intent, trafficking, and manufacturing drugs. Georgia law separates controlled substances into five “schedules” according to their potential for abuse:
- Schedule I: these drugs have a high potential for abuse and are not accepted for medical use or treatment. This category includes Heroin, LSD, and MDMA (Ecstasy).
- Schedule II: these drugs have a high potential for abuse but are currently accepted for medical use and treatment. These include Cocaine and Amphetamine (Speed).
- Schedule III: these drugs have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. They are accepted for medical use or treatment. This category includes certain stimulants, depressants, and anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV: these substances have an even lower potential of being abused than Schedule III substances and have been accepted for medical use and treatment. This category includes certain stimulants and depressants.
- Schedule V: these have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances and are accepted for medical treatment. These include limited quantities of narcotic drugs and other ingredients with medicinal benefits.
The aforementioned drug crimes in Georgia carry penalties that increase in severity according to which Schedule of the drug is the subject of the crime.
Domestic violence is an act of “family violence.” The Georgia law protects against physical, sexual, and emotional abuse among family members. You do not have to be married to someone to be a victim of domestic violence.
Georgia’s Family Violence Act protects individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents, children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.
Domestic violence charges are taken seriously in Georgia. The court can issue a Family Law Protective Order. This order may impose a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Ordering an abuser to leave the victim alone
- Giving the victim possession of the house and force the abuser to leave
- Ordering assistance to help a victim get his or her personal property
- Making the abuser provide alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and children
- Giving the victim temporary custody of shared children and set temporary visitation rights
- Awarding temporary child support and/or spousal support from the abuser
- Ordering the abuser to go to counseling
- Awarding costs and attorney’s fees to either party
- Arresting the abuser if he or she breaks the order
Juvenile crimes may result in a wide range of responses by the Georgia court system, depending on the severity.
Children in Need of Services
Georgia juvenile crime laws designate a child as a “child in need of services” when they:
- Are habitually truant
- Are habitually disobedient of their parent or guardians or place themselves or others in unsafe situations
- A run away from home
- Commit an offense only applicable to a child
- Loiter in public between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Patronize any bar where alcohol is sold unaccompanied by their parent or guardian
Juvenile Designated Felonies
More serious delinquent acts are called designated felonies and include both Class A and Class B.
Class A felonies include:
- Aggravated assault where a severe bodily injury occurred;
- Aggravated battery
- Armed robbery not involving a firearm
- Arson in the first degree
- Attempted murder
- Escape, if the child was previously adjudicated guilty of a class A or B designated felony act
- The hijacking of a motor vehicle
- Home invasion of the first degree
- Participating in criminal gang activity
- Trafficking in drugs
- Any other act that would be a felony if the child was an adult if they have three times previously been adjudicated for delinquent acts, all of which would have been felonies if tried as an adult
Class B felonies include:
- Aggravated assault where no serious bodily injury occurred
- Arson in the second degree
- Smash and grab burglary
- Home invasion in the second degree
- Attempted kidnapping
- Gang activity
- Activity involving destructive devices
Georgia juvenile crime laws also specify the conditions required for the imprisonment of juveniles.
White Collar Crimes
White-collar crime in Georgia includes a wide range of financially motivated, nonviolent offenses committed by individuals, businesses, and government officials. Depending on the circumstances, charges can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Also, an individual convicted of a white-collar crime may face civil lawsuits from victims of the crime.
Some common white-collar crimes in Georgia include:
- Identity fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax evasion
- Money laundering
In Georgia, DUIs carry various harsh penalties, including possible jail time, steep fines, classes, counseling sessions, and the suspension of your driver’s license. These consequences can severely negatively impact your ability to find a job, go to school, and seek future employment. You may also have problems obtaining loans, financial aid, government assistance, and government security clearances.
If you are arrested for DUI in Georgia, it is important you contact Michael Saul, a Georgia criminal defense attorney, immediately. An attorney has only 30 days to attempt to save your driver’s license by requesting an ALS Hearing to install an ignition interlock device.
You will be subject to two different court hearings: an Administrative License Hearing, which concerns the suspension of your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive in this state, and the criminal proceeding, which may result in additional punishments such as time in jail, community service, additional license suspension, forced alcohol or drug treatment, and fines.
If you have been detained by ICE, Michael Saul, a Georgia, criminal defense attorney, may request a release bond. In determining whether a non-citizen detainee is eligible for a bond, or the bond amount, the Immigration Judge considers various factors such as whether the detainee will pose a “danger to society,” the flight risk, and whether the detainee is eligible for any immigration benefit before the immigration court.
If you receive a Notice to Appear orders, you are required to appear before the Immigration Court. The notice will tell you why the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking your deportation or removal under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
After an Initial Hearing, there will be a Merits or Individual Hearing, which is essentially the trial in your immigration court case. You and the government will have the opportunity to call witnesses and produce evidence. There are multiple defenses and legal strategies involved, so having an experienced lawyer like Michael Saul defend you can be the difference between staying in the U.S. and deportation.
In Georgia, if you get a traffic ticket, such as a ticket for speeding or running a red light, generally you have a few options:
- Pay the fine, likely resulting in points on your license and an increase in car insurance rates upon renewal.
- Make a plea of not guilty or no contest. The citation should have information on the county court and how to answer it.
- Ignore the ticket and take no action, likely resulting in a “failure to appear” finding, which would in turn likely lead to an automatic admission of guilt, a suspension of your driver’s license and/or a warrant for your arrest.
Georgia also has a “Super Speeder Law.” Under this law, if you get a ticket for traveling 75 m.p.h. or faster on a two-lane road, or 85 m.p.h. or more on any Georgia road or highway, you could be considered a “Super Speeder,” which results in an additional $200 fine. If you fail to pay a Super Speeder fine in 120 days, your driver’s license will be suspended. You will then have to pay a $50 license-reinstatement fee plus the $200 Super Speeder fine.
Contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney if You Have Been Charged With Any Crime
When being charged with a criminal act, the punishments are not only legal but also carry potential effects on your future. If you have been accused of any type of crime, let Michael Saul, an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney, help. We will treat you with kindness, compassion, and efficiency. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.