Facing criminal charges for a serious crime is an extremely stressful experience. It’s estimated that close to 1,000 innocent defendants are found guilty of a crime every year. In many of those cases, the defendant could have avoided the charges had they worked with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Prosecutors are only interested in ensuring that you face the full consequences for the crime. They are not interested in whether you are innocent or whether the charges are being exaggerated. It may seem like the entire legal system is working against you but defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling are here to help. We are here to protect your legal rights and to prove your innocence in court.
It’s never too early to contact a local criminal defense attorney if you’ve been charged with a crime in Atlanta. You should reach out to our law firm as soon as the authorities start asking questions. The longer you wait to contact a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta the greater your chance of incriminating yourself. Call us today at 404-418-7816 to discuss your options.
What Are Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant in Atlanta?
There are five important amendments to the US constitution that deal specifically with the rights of criminal defendants. Every American citizen has these rights and they cannot be ignored by the authorities or the prosecution. When these rights are violated it taints the legitimacy of the evidence gathered and the case as a whole.
The Fourth Amendment is designed to protect the defendant against unlawful search or seizure of their property. This prevents the authorities from simply entering your home and searching for evidence without a warrant. Receiving a warrant requires proper reasoning and must be approved by a judge. Any evidence that is obtained without a warrant is not considered legal and cannot be used in the case.
The Fifth Amendment provides multiple forms of protection for defendants. First, it ensures that a defendant cannot be found guilty of a crime without due process. This amendment ensures that the government and legal system still work within the confines of the law and that they provide a fair trial to everyone.
The Fifth Amendment is also known for providing defendants with the right to remain silent. Authorities cannot force you to answer questions or incriminate yourself. They also cannot use your silence to incriminate you. Police inform people of this right every time they make an arrest. We advise that you do not waive these rights and instead remain silent until securing legal counsel.
The “Double Jeopardy Clause” is another important element in the Fifth Amendment. It ensures that no person can be convicted twice for the same crime. If the courts find you guilty or innocent once, then that ruling will stand.
The Sixth Amendment includes several clauses that improve the rights of a criminal defendant. The most important change it created was the defendant’s right to have legal counsel. You cannot be forced to manage your criminal trial alone. If you cannot afford a lawyer, then the court will appoint one for you. The Sixth Amendment also includes the right to a jury of your peers and the right to obtain witnesses for your defense.
The Eighth Amendment deals partially with appropriate punishments for defendants. It prevents a court from setting excessive bail. It also promises that no defendant will be faced with cruel or unusual punishment.
The Fourteenth Amendment make huge changes that affected the civil rights of all Americans. It converted everyone born in the country into a citizen with the same rights regardless of color. It ensures that everyone has a right to life, liberty, and property even when they are being charged with a crime.
What is a Misdemeanor vs a Felony in Georgia?
Misdemeanors and felonies are two categories of crime throughout the entire United States. In some states, a particular crime may be considered a felony while it is only a misdemeanor in another state. And then there are very serious crimes that remain a felony in every district.
The major difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the severity of the crime. In turn, there is a difference in the severity of the punishment. Most misdemeanors carry jail time of 12 months or less. Most felonies carry at least 12 months of prison time but often stretch well beyond that. Some criminals with multiple counts of serious felonies have been sentenced to hundreds of years behind bars.
Georgia has their own set of laws that regulate certain aspects of felony and misdemeanor charges. For example, all misdemeanors in Georgia have the potential for a maximum sentence of 12 months. There are two classes of misdemeanors in Georgia and the only difference is the fine. More serious misdemeanors can have a fine of up to $5,000 while standard misdemeanors have a $1,000 fine.
Punishment for felonies in Georgia can range anywhere from 12 months in prison to a death sentence. The most common felonies like aggravated assault have a wide sentence range from 1 year to 20 years. The sentence handed down for these felonies will be influenced by factors like the defendant’s criminal history, the age of any victim, and whether it is a habitual violation.
Having a felony on your record in Georgia can make life difficult even after the sentence is complete. It will affect your ability to find a job, secure a loan, and find housing. In most cases, you will lose your right to vote and your right to own a firearm. And criminal records cannot be expunged in Georgia. This is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side from the beginning.
Should I Consult a Lawyer Before Speaking to the Police?
Absolutely. It is your legal right to remain silent and your right to seek legal counsel. The police will encourage you to waive those rights so that they can question you freely without your lawyer present. Do not waive your rights and do not answer any questions until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
What is the Habitual Offender Law?
Every state has its variation of habitual offender laws. However, at their core, they remain the same. The idea is that anyone who is charged with a similar crime multiple times over a short period will become a habitual violator. In Georgia, a habitual violator is a person who has committed three serious crimes within five years. The majority of habitual violations are DUI charges.
Types of Criminal Cases We Handle
Here is a small list of some of the criminal cases we have handled in the past:
- Assault and Battery
- Domestic Violence
- Drug Crime
- Felony crimes
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Here are just a few ways that a lawyer can assist you with your case:
The work on a criminal defense case begins long before you go to trial. Criminal defense attorneys work tirelessly to gather evidence as well as review the evidence from the prosecutors. They spend time reviewing photographs, videos, messages, lab tests, and witness testimonies. All of this information is used to build a solid defense against your criminal allegations.
In some cases, it is better to negotiate a plea bargain than to face a jury in a trial. The risk of a conviction can far outweigh the reduced punishment offered in a plea bargain. Your attorney can help negotiate a fair plea bargain on your behalf and help you understand the terms of the agreement.
Ability to Predict Case Outcomes
The lawyers at the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling have handled countless criminal defense cases. They have the training and experience required to gauge potential case outcomes. Knowing what to expect makes it easier to prepare a defense or negotiate a plea bargain. Having an experienced attorney on your side is a valuable resource in these situations.
Legal and Court Room Knowledge
There’s a reason that no defendant is advised to represent themselves in a criminal case. Lawyers have the courtroom knowledge and experience required to navigate difficult cases. They know when your rights are being violated, when certain questions aren’t appropriate, and understand how to work with the judge. Local lawyers spend most of their time at a courthouse and are familiar with the staff, the prosecutors, and the judges. This helps them determine the best possible legal defense.
Having adequate experience with previous criminal trials can make a huge difference in a case. Lawyers with extensive trial experience know what to expect in the courtroom and know what the prosecutors are going to do next. Experience is what turns a good criminal defense attorney into one of the best. Here at the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling we only work with the best.
What is the Cost of Legal Representation?
Every case is unique and the prices can vary significantly. Some lawyers receive retainer payments ahead of time and others charge flat rates during the duration of the case. Many different services may be required and they can impact the cost. For example, they may need to hire a private investigator or a forensic expert to analyze evidence. You can find out about our specific pricing options when we discuss the details during your consultation.
Is There a Benefit to Having a Private Attorney vs a Court-Appointed Attorney?
Yes. There are several major benefits associated with hiring a private attorney. As an American, you have a legal right to an attorney and if you cannot afford one, then the court will appoint one for you. These can still be great attorneys, but they are working with limitations that experienced private attorneys do not have.
The first benefit is a more personalized experience. Appointed attorneys, also known as public defenders, handle a large caseload daily. There are far fewer public defenders than there are defendants who need legal counsel. Public defenders must work with several clients every day and thus have much less time to dedicate to any single case.
A private attorney will treat each of their clients like a close friend. They are on call around the clock to provide assistance and legal advice. They file paperwork ahead of time, handle smaller caseloads, and always ensure that they have enough time to give each client what they need.
The cost of hiring a private attorney may seem like a disadvantage but the opposite is true. When you are paying for your attorney you have access to a wider range of services. You can pay attorneys to find expert witnesses, laboratory tests, and private investigators. Public defenders work on a much smaller budget and can’t often afford these additional services.
Can You Represent Yourself?
Yes. You are not required to hire an attorney and are allowed to represent yourself in court. This tactic is not advised for any type of criminal court case. It is extremely rare for a defendant to win a case when they are representing themselves. At the very least, you should work with a public defender who has an understanding of the legal system and courtroom proceedings.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
That depends entirely on the circumstances of your case. You need to weigh the risk of going to trial against the terms offered in the plea bargain. Your lawyer will help you understand the risks and determine whether to accept the plea bargain. At the end of the day, it is your choice to decide whether you accept the plea bargain or move forward with a trial.
Appealing a Conviction in Georgia
You can appeal a conviction in Georgia within thirty days of the judgment becoming final. To begin the appeals process you need to file a notice of appeal with the judge and clerk. Statistics show that between 7 and 20 percent of criminal convictions are overturned during the appeals process.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta Today!
Every American has the right to the best possible legal defense. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Georgia, then the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling want to help. We handle criminal cases daily ranging from simple misdemeanors to habitual felonies. Contact our staff today at 404-418-7816 to schedule your free consultation.