If you are facing criminal charges in Fayetteville, GA, it is understandable if you are concerned. Even the people that know little about the criminal justice system understand that criminal charges are very serious. The best thing for you to do at this time is work with an experienced legal team with a history of successfully defending clients against criminal charges.
At the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C., we represent clients facing all types of criminal charges in Fayetteville. Our criminal defense lawyer in Fayetteville has the knowledge and experience to build a strong case and minimize the damage that these charges are likely to have on your life.
What Are Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant in Georgia?
The United States Constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens and Georgia residents are not an exception. While the Constitution covers the various rights of United States citizens, there are certain amendments that apply to criminal law exclusively. These amendments ensure that the rights of those facing criminal charges are protected before, during, and after conviction.
The most important amendments applicable to criminal law are the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments. All of these constitutional rights must be ensured in criminal legal cases in the United States. The following is a more in-depth look into each of these amendments.
The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides protection to individuals from unnecessary searches or unreasonable seizure of their homes, bodies, cars, or other property. A police officer or other law enforcement agent must first have reasonable cause before searching a person or their property.
Reasonable cause, however, may vary significantly based on several factors, including location. In many instances, a police officer that observes suspicious behavior in public, including at a traffic stop, has reasonable cause to perform a search of a person or his/her property.
The 4th Amendment rights enjoyed by a person must also be weighed against public safety. Still, in most cases, a warrant is required to search a person’s home. A search warrant, however, isn’t necessary if consent is given to enter the home, if the items being searched and seized are in plain sight of the officers, or if the home is entered as part of a lawful arrest.
The 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution focuses on rights that involve criminal prosecution. The portion that mentions self-incrimination is perhaps the most widely-known clause of this amendment. It is where the right to remain silent or Miranda rights comes from.
It applies whenever you’re taken into custody, and means that you don’t have to say anything to the police and can ask for an attorney. It states that an individual cannot be legally forced to divulge information if the information they provide would incriminate themselves.
The 5th Amendment also protects you from “double jeopardy,” which means that you may not be put on trial more than once for the same offense. Simply put, it means that you cannot be found innocent of a crime and then be put on trial again on the same charges for the same crime years later.
The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution covers the rights of an accused citizen during a trial, which include the following:
- The right to be notified of the charges you are facing.
- The right to a public trial, which means that others may go observe the trial, and the presence of ordinary citizens, a defendant’s family, friends, as well as the press can help make sure that the government’s conduct is appropriate during the trial.
- The right to confront a witness (i.e., the person accusing you of a crime).
- The right to a trial jury except for petty offenses that carry a sentence of 6 months or less of jail time.
- The right to a ‘speedy’ trial. The exact time limits, however, aren’t specified. That’s why judges typically decide on a case-by-case basis whether a defendant’s trial has been so delayed that the case should be thrown out.
- The right to be issued an attorney in a criminal trial, if you are unable to afford one. It is one of the most famous rights – indigent clients will be given a free lawyer (public defender) in their criminal case.
The 8th Amendment is particularly important when it comes to protecting the rights of accused citizens. It is vital for making sure that sentences and punishments for criminal behaviors are fair and just and match the crime committed.
Punishments must not be unusual or cruel for any criminal, nor may any fines or bail be set at extraordinary monetary amounts that aren’t reasonable. This amendment is usually brought up as a cause for debate whenever the death penalty may be an option when it comes to sentencing.
What Is a Misdemeanor Vs. a Felony in Georgia?
The dividing rule between a misdemeanor and a felony in Georgia is basically 12 months of incarceration. Misdemeanors typically carry up to 12 months of jail time, while felony convictions carry the risk of more than 1 year of incarceration in a state penitentiary. Unlike most other states, however, in Georgia, all misdemeanors carry the potential for up to 12 months in jail.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer Before Speaking to the Police?
It is generally advisable not to talk to law enforcement officers unless your attorney is present. Always remember that it is a criminal offense to lie to a government official while not saying anything until you consult with your lawyer isn’t. Even if you’ve already answered some questions, you can choose to refuse to answer any more questions until your lawyer arrives.
What Is the Habitual Offender Law?
It is a law that permits judges to impose stricter punishments on repeat offenders. Here, the punishment is modified based on prior convictions. In Georgia, anyone that has been convicted of at least 3 major offenses in the last 5 years is considered a habitual offender and a danger to society.
The most common type of habitual offenders in Georgia are those with multiple DUI convictions. Specifically, a fourth DUI conviction is a felony that causes you to be considered a habitual offender. After being declared a habitual offender, if nothing else happens, your license will be suspended for 5 years. After being suspended for at least 2 years, you’ll gain the ability to get a special HV permit to drive.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Criminal charges generally attract serious penalties. From prison terms or sizable fines, these convictions can be life-changing. Even if your case might seem straightforward, you don’t need to settle for a severe penalty. A criminal defense lawyer such as those at the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C. in Fayetteville, GA can help you with the following:
Attorney Gil and the legal team at our law offices will investigate to find any loopholes that could help avoid a conviction or negotiate a reduced sentence. The investigation involves evidence review, talking to police and witnesses, as well as collecting any available information about the case.
Entering a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser punishment is a common occurrence. Attorney Gil and our legal team can help you negotiate a favorable deal.
Ability to Gauge Case Outcomes
Different cases require different approaches and our experienced legal team will understand which legal strategy would be best suited for your situation.
Knowledge of the Law and Court Rules
Our experienced legal team can help you understand the trial process along with what you can expect at court.
Attorney Gil and the rest of the legal team will be your voice in the courtroom and will work on your behalf when it comes to jury selection, objecting to improper testimony and evidence, presenting your defense to the jury, and cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses.
What Is the Cost of Legal Representation?
Criminal defense lawyer costs will generally vary depending on several factors, which include but aren’t limited to the severity of the charges you face, the lawyer’s level of experience, the complexity of legal issues in the case, and whether or not the case goes to trial.
Less serious misdemeanors and traffic cases may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500. However, more complicated and serious felony cases will cost between $2,500 and $25,000 to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Is There a Benefit to Having a Private Attorney Vs. a Court-Appointed Attorney?
Yes, there are multiple benefits to be enjoyed by having a private attorney as opposed to a court-appointed attorney, which include:
Choice: You can choose the lawyer that you believe has the knowledge and commitment to defend you aggressively. That isn’t the case with a court-appointed attorney since it is the judge that makes the decision for you.
Time: A private attorney will most likely have a smaller caseload than a public defender. They can devote more time to building a strong defense strategy for you.
Resources: Private lawyers have a team that will help them in your case. They will also have a network of private investigators, expert witnesses, and other resources to help with your defense.
Communication: It may be much easier for you to communicate with a private lawyer when you need an update or have questions rather than a court-appointed attorney that spends a large portion of their time in court.
Outcome: It is more likely that the charges against you would be dismissed or reduced to a much more serious offense if you hire a private lawyer since they will have more time and resources to dedicate to your case.
Can You Represent Yourself?
Yes, criminal defendants can represent themselves but only if a judge determines that they are competent to do so. However, it is important to note that just because you can self-represent, it does not mean that you should. Representing yourself almost always results in inferior results than if you were to hire a lawyer.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
Depending on the specific circumstances in your case, it can be advisable to accept a plea bargain. A plea bargain can help remove the uncertainty of a trial for a defendant. In a trial, it is impossible to determine what the outcome is likely to be. However, you should always talk to your lawyer before you accept a plea bargain.
Appealing a Conviction in Georgia
The following takes place when you are appealing a conviction in Georgia:
Argue Case: The defendant (appellant) has the chance to argue that the case should be either retried or dismissed based on key legal mistakes.
Submit Brief: The appellant submits a written “brief” to the appellate court as well as a copy of their trial transcripts and any exhibits used during the original trial. The prosecution will also have the opportunity to submit a brief.
Oral Arguments: Depending on the case, oral arguments from both parties may be heard by the appellate court, but these are typically quite brief and focus on technical, legal matters that apply to the appeal.
Record Review: The appellate court judges will then review the trial record looking for errors that were significant enough to affect the outcome of the case. Minor errors that had no impact on the verdict are disregarded.
Decision: The appellate court could end up deciding that both the sentence and verdict should remain as-is. If that’s the case, the appellant may have the opportunity to file their appeal with another, a higher court.
Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fayetteville, GA? Call Us Today!
If you are facing criminal charges in Fayetteville, GA, you need to contact the Law Offices of Gilbert Sperling, III, P.C. We have many years of experience handling all kinds of criminal charges. Your accusers or the police will likely have their own story. However, we are focused on presenting yours.
We are known as the best criminal defense attorneys in Fayetteville, GA due to our dedication to each of our clients. Your voice will be heard, and we will do anything within our power and capability to achieve the best outcome for your case. Call us today at 404-418-7816 for your free case evaluation.