Whether you or a loved one have been arrested for alleged crimes or are being investigated for a crime in Georgia, all hope is not lost. You have rights, including the right to defend yourself and to obtain legal representation.
At Shakhan and Wilkerson Law, our commitment to our clients goes beyond smart legal advice and criminal defense. We understand the emotional and personal toll that criminal charges can have. Contact our criminal defense attorney in Georgia at (404) 999-9529 to schedule a consultation and to learn more about our approach to criminal defense.
Types of Criminal Cases in Georgia
Criminal cases encompass a wide range of offenses, varying in severity and nature. Some of the more common types of crimes charged in Georgia include:
- Property crimes, like burglary, theft, and vandalism
- Violent crimes, like assault, robbery, and homicide
- Drug crimes, like possession, distribution, and trafficking
- White-collar crimes, like fraud, embezzlement, and insider trading
- Sex crimes, like rape, sexual assault, and child pornography
- Traffic offenses, like DUI offenses and reckless driving
How your criminal case moves forward depends on many factors. For example, in which jurisdiction was the charge filed? Is the crime a misdemeanor, a felony, or another classification? Is the crime a general intent crime or specific intent crime? Did you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest?
State vs. Federal Jurisdiction
Understanding the jurisdiction of crimes is crucial. Crimes can be local but are most often state or federal offenses, each with its own set of laws, types of offenses, enforcement, and penalties.
Jurisdiction is an important distinction. State crimes are violations of state laws and are prosecuted by state authorities. Each state has its own set of laws, and offenses against these laws are typically handled by state courts. Federal crimes, on the other hand, are violations of federal laws established by the United States Congress. These offenses are prosecuted in federal courts by federal authorities.
Laws and codes differ greatly depending on the jurisdiction. State laws vary from one state to another, and each state has its own criminal code. Offenses against these state-specific laws are considered state crimes. Federal laws are codified in the United States Code, and federal crimes are violations of these national statutes. These laws are applicable across the entire country.
The nature and scope of offense depends on jurisdiction as well. State laws often cover a broad range of offenses, including crimes such as robbery, assault, and drug offenses. State authorities handle cases that occur within their respective state boundaries. Federal laws typically address crimes that involve interstate commerce, national security, immigration, or offenses that cross state lines. Examples include certain white-collar crimes, drug trafficking across state borders, and federal tax evasion.
Investigation and enforcement agencies can also impact a criminal case. State law enforcement agencies, like state police or county sheriffs, investigate and enforce state crimes. Prosecution is usually carried out by state attorneys or district attorneys. Federal law enforcement agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), investigate and enforce federal crimes. Prosecution is typically handled by United States Attorneys.
Finally, there is no other significant impact on a criminal case than the potential for punishment if found guilty. Penalties for state crimes are determined by state laws and can include fines, probation, imprisonment in state facilities, or a combination of these. Penalties for federal crimes are outlined in federal sentencing guidelines and can include fines, imprisonment in federal facilities, or a combination of these.
Certain offenses may be both state and federal crimes, depending on the circumstances. In such cases, the dual sovereignty doctrine allows for prosecution at both the state and federal levels without violating double jeopardy protections.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
Two main categories of criminal cases are misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors generally involve less serious offenses, such as petty theft or simple assault, punishable by fines, probation, or short-term incarceration. Felonies, on the other hand, involve more serious crimes like murder, rape, or robbery, often resulting in imprisonment for a year or more. Some states do not distinguish crimes as misdemeanors or felonies but still use a system to classify crimes in a similar fashion.
General Intent vs. Specific Intent Crimes
General intent crimes refer to criminal offenses where the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed a crime but does not need to prove the defendant intended to commit it. For example, a person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a general intent crime. The defendant may have thought they were not under the influence even though they were. A prosecutor only needs to prove that the defendant was criminally intoxicated while driving and does not need to show that the defendant intended to drive while criminally intoxicated.
In contrast, specific intent crimes require the prosecution to prove both that a defendant committed the criminal act and intended to commit the criminal act.
Pleading Guilty, Not Guilty, or No-Contest
Deciding how to plead is nerve-wrecking for some people, especially when it is their first time facing a criminal allegation. Making this decision, however, is not an easy one. Having a criminal defense attorney in Georgia review your case and getting smart legal advice is in your best interests because there are consequences for each of these pleadings. At Shakhan and Wilkerson Law, we guide our clients through these options, whether it's entering a plea deal, pleading guilty, not guilty, or pursuing a no-contest plea. Our goal is to achieve the most favorable outcome for our clients.
Overview of Criminal Procedures in Georgia
Criminal procedures are the rules and regulations we must follow during a criminal case. These rules vary according to jurisdiction, but generally, there are five basic phases of a criminal case.
- Investigation. Law enforcement gathers evidence and conducts interviews to determine whether a crime has been committed and who may be responsible.
- Arrest. If the police have probable cause to believe a person committed a crime, they may arrest them and take them into custody.
- Arraignment. The accused is informed of the charges and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.
- Discovery. Both the prosecution and defense exchange relevant evidence, allowing each party to prepare their case.
- Trial. The presentation of evidence and arguments takes place before a judge or jury, who then renders a verdict based on the evidence presented. A trial may be avoided if the charges are dismissed, the defendant pleads guilty, or a plea deal is offered and accepted.
These procedures are supposed to ensure fairness and to protect the rights of the accused – though that is often not the case.
Burden of Proof
In criminal cases, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. They must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This high standard ensures that the accused is not wrongfully convicted. If the prosecution fails to meet this burden, the defendant should be presumed innocent.
When a defendant states they have an affirmative defense, like self-defense, the burden switches, and the defendant will have to prove self-defense.
Types of Pleadings
Pleadings are formal written statements filed with the court. The three big ones in criminal cases include:
- Indictments, which are formal charging documents issued by a grand jury
- Complaints, which are charging documents issued by the prosecution in misdemeanor cases
- Pleas, which are guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest) pleas entered by the defendant in response to the charges
Much depends on these pleadings. Like all things related to a criminal case, it is in your best interest to speak to our criminal defense attorney in Georgia so that you understand exactly what the criminal allegations are, what they involve or mean, and which plea is best for you at what stage of the case.
Types of Hearings
Several types of hearings occur throughout the criminal process. Preliminary hearings determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial. Bail hearings determine whether the accused should be released or held in custody pending trial. Sentencing hearings occur after a guilty verdict, where the judge determines the appropriate punishment. These are the most common hearings, but the type of hearing your criminal case experiences may also depend on the types of motions filed.
Types of Motions
Motions are requests made by either party to the court, seeking a specific ruling or action.
- Motion to dismiss, which is a request of the court to dismiss the case due to legal defects or lack of evidence
- Motion for discovery, which asks the court to order the prosecution to provide specific evidence
- Motion to suppress evidence, which seeks to exclude certain evidence from the trial due to violations of the defendant's rights
Some of these motions can have a serious impact on your criminal case. With our criminal defense attorney in Georgia who understands how, when, and which motions to file, we can help put your criminal case in the best position possible for the best outcome available.
Criminal Defenses and Defense Strategies
In criminal defense cases, defense strategies play a crucial role in protecting the rights and interests of the accused. At Shakhan and Wilkerson Law, we employ various tactics to challenge the prosecution's case and establish reasonable doubt. These tactics are often based on your criminal defense.
This defense asserts that the defendant was not present at the scene of the crime when it occurred. You must be able to provide evidence or witnesses to corroborate your whereabouts.
This defense focuses on violations of the defendant's constitutional rights during the arrest, search, or seizure. If law enforcement acted unlawfully, evidence obtained through such violations may be suppressed.
Duress or Coercion
This defense argues that the defendant committed the crime under duress or coercion. To use this defense, you must have been forced or compelled to act against your will due to threats or fear for your safety or the safety of others.
This defense asserts that law enforcement induced or persuaded the defendant to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. It aims to show that the defendant was lured into criminal activity by law enforcement's actions. Even if, for example, you were tricked into criminal activity by an undercover police officer, you typically still must show that you would not have committed the crime but for the entrapment.
A defense strategy often revolves around proving the defendant's innocence. This may involve presenting an alibi, challenging the credibility of witnesses, or introducing new evidence to cast doubt on the prosecution's case.
This defense asserts that the defendant, due to a mental illness or defect, was incapable of understanding the nature or wrongfulness of their actions at the time of the offense. We can present expert testimony and evidence to support this claim. If successful, however, the defendant may be sent to a mental health facility.
Lack of Intent
If the crime requires intent, we might be able to argue that the defendant did not have the necessary mental state to commit the offense. This strategy seeks to establish that the defendant's actions were accidental or lacked the requisite intent to commit the crime.
This defense challenges the accuracy of eyewitness identification, asserting that the defendant was wrongly identified as the perpetrator due to factors like poor lighting, stress, or unreliable witnesses.
This defense argues that the defendant committed an illegal act to prevent a greater harm or danger. It asserts that the defendant had no reasonable alternative and that their actions were justified under the circumstances.
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
This strategy is used when the defendant claims they acted in self-defense or defense of others. The defense aims to demonstrate that the accused reasonably believed they were in imminent danger and used reasonable force to protect themselves or others.
In criminal defense cases, defense strategies and types of defenses vary depending on the unique circumstances of each case. Our defense attorney uses a range of tactics to challenge the prosecution's case, protect the rights of the accused, and establish reasonable doubt.
Why Choose our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Georgia
When facing criminal charges, the criminal defense attorney you hire can make all the difference. At Shakhan and Wilkerson Law, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. We understand the legal complexities and work hard to secure the best possible outcomes for those we represent. We also:
- Provide strong criminal defense – we possess in-depth knowledge of criminal law, procedures, and the nuances of the legal system, enabling us to build strong defenses for our clients.
- Protect your rights – we safeguard the rights of the accused, ensuring fair treatment throughout the criminal process and challenging any violations of constitutional rights.
- Provide case evaluation and strategy – we analyze the evidence, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and develop effective defense strategies tailored to our clients' specific circumstances.
- Negotiate plea bargains, when appropriate – we negotiate with prosecutors to secure favorable plea bargains, potentially reducing charges or penalties.
- Represent our clients from beginning to end – we represent our clients in court, presenting compelling arguments, cross-examining witnesses, and providing a robust defense to protect our clients.
Criminal defense is not just a job for us at Shakhan and Wilkerson Law; it's a calling. We advocate for our clients, challenging the prosecution's case, scrutinizing evidence, and presenting compelling defenses. Our relentless pursuit of justice is evident in all we do.
If you're facing criminal charges, time is of the essence. Contact our criminal defense lawyer in Georgia by filling out the online form or calling us at (404) 999-9529 to schedule a consultation. During this meeting, we'll discuss the details of your case, assess your legal options, and provide an initial strategy for your defense.