After an arrest in Georgia, there is typically a lull in the proceedings when the prosecutor builds their file, obtains the police reports, and determines what charges they are going to file. Depending on the type of case, an attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to file less serious charges by providing them with a valid defense or additional evidence that the police did not gather. It is also possible to prevent the prosecutor from filing charges at all.
By way of example, I recently handled a case in which the client was arrested on a felony deposit account fraud charge, which essentially just means that they wrote a bad check that was for more than $1,500. However, in order for a bad check case to be good in Georgia, it has to have been for a present consideration. In other words, when the check was handed over, it has to have been for goods or services that were exchanged at that time. In this case, the check was for a refund for goods that were never provided. By pointing that out to the prosecutor, we are able to get a dismissal very quickly.
In Georgia, defense attorneys do not receive evidence from prosecutors until after the charges have been filed and the case has been arraigned, but that does not stop us from doing our own investigation, getting the police reports, obtaining videos, talking to witnesses, and presenting the prosecutor with an alternative to the case before they file criminal charges. Taking such steps can result in lesser charges being filed or an outright dismissal.
If I Am Being Investigated, Should I Prepare For An impending Arrest?
If someone is being investigated, they may need to prepare for an impending arrest. If they committed a relatively minor crime such as a traffic offense or shoplifting charge, then the time between the offense and the arrest will be very short. In more serious cases, the length of time between an offense and an arrest can be significantly longer. If someone is aware that they are being investigated for a serious crime, they should hire an attorney to help them in the interim between the offense and potential arrest.
In most cases, a person will become aware of the fact that they are being investigated for a crime after the investigating officer contacts them and requests to get their side of the story. Contacting the suspect is frequently the last step in the investigation for the police. Once this contact happens, the accused should immediately hire an attorney who can get started on their defense. If someone is aware that the police were called in response to something in which they were involved (such as a dispute or battery involving family members) and they left before the police arrived, then they should be aware of pending criminal charges or an investigation. Under such circumstances, it would be prudent to see an attorney.
Should I Hire An Attorney Prior To An Arrest If I Am Contacted By Law Enforcement?
It never hurts to hire an attorney because one can never be sure of what type of evidence law enforcement may have. The police may have a stronger case than someone anticipates, or the complaining witness or victim may have said something different than expected. An attorney can act as a go-between for the defendant and attorney, particularly if the defendant has information that could change the course of the investigation but they do not know how to communicate such information to the detective. If that’s the case, they would need someone to speak for them, especially since the police are allowed to lie and use deception when speaking with a suspect during the course of an investigation. It is usually better for a person to have an attorney to act as a medium so that they do not get trapped into saying or doing something that will hurt rather than help their case. In addition, a client can tell an attorney their side of the story and the attorney can then relay that information to the police officer without that information later being used against the client. In this way, an attorney is like protective insulation for the client.
Should I Hire An Attorney Regardless Of How Minor I Think An Offense May Be?
It is usually best to hire an attorney, even if someone believes that they are dealing with a minor offense. This is because a defendant may not be fully aware of the repercussions that could follow from the offense. For example, if someone receives a simple misdemeanor marijuana charge in Georgia, they will be arrested, taken to jail, and have their mugshot taken, which will likely be published in the local newspaper and on social media. In order to be released from jail, they would have to post a bond, which may require the involvement of a bonding company. Once information is on the internet, there’s really no way to remove it, so a person’s best option is to obtain a lawyer and prevent the information from being released in the first place.
For more information on Retaining An Attorney For Pre-Filing Actions, an Initial Case Assessment is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (678) 726-5400 today.