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Types of Offenses

By: Cory Yager and Larry Kohn, Award-Winning Criminal Defense Atorneys in Metro Atlanta GA

Criminal charges in Georgia will be felony or misdemeanor. In criminal law, some misdemeanors are classified as being a misdemeanor of a “ high and aggravated nature,” which affects that person’s jail time. Of course, felonies in Georgia require the highest level of experience from your legal counsel in defending felony charges.

Most educated Americans fully understand the gravity of being convicted of a felony. Depending on whether an individual’s alleged crime is disposed of as a misdemeanor or a felony, an experienced criminal law attorney near me can guide them through the legal process effectively, providing seasoned legal support.

The Georgia legislature decides what is considered a criminal misdemeanor or felony, and writes laws as proposed criminal statutes, which are then sent to the Governor to either sign or veto. Felony versus misdemeanor incarceration is simple in the Peach State. A felony conviction has the risk of being sentenced to state prison time exceeding a year. Misdemeanors are limited to up to 12 months in a county jail.

This article reviews common types of felony charges that may (in certain instances) also be accused as a misdemeanor crime. Some are property crimes, and some are personal crimes.

So, to answer a common question, “is a misdemeanor considered a felony?” we look to Georgia law for the types of misdemeanor charges (on certain types of offenses) that may also become Georgia felony charges, depending on the facts.

Varying degrees of severity of penalties on Georgia misdemeanor charges need to be reviewed. By way of example, for DUI in Georgia, what is considered a misdemeanor in Georgia? In a nutshell, a 4th DUI in GA within 10 years will be accused and prosecuted as a felony.

Misdemeanor punishment (meaning jail time for up to one year) applies to a first offense DUI, 2nd DUI in GA and a third DUI offense within 10 years, but the jail sentence imposed on a third offender is classified as high and aggravated.

These ten (10) categories of crimes may be charged as a felony crime vs misdemeanor, depending on the criminal case circumstances and whether any prior convictions for the accused exist on his or her criminal record. The aspect of violence in personal crimes (like family violence) is the controlling factor in most cases.

What Determines the Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

In Atlanta, a misdemeanor is any criminal offense that is subject to up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. In Georgia, all traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors, this includes running a stop sign, shoplifting less than $500, or smoking marijuana. Georgia does not differentiate between a traffic offense and a misdemeanor. A felony offense, however, is any crime that has a punishment subject to more than 12 months in jail.

Georgia specifically differentiates misdemeanors and felonies based upon the severity of the penalty. It has nothing to do with the nature of the offense. Felony offenses are often much more serious than misdemeanor offenses, and therefore carry more severe penalties. Murder, or armed robbery, for example, would be classified as a felony offense, whereas shoplifting gum from a convenience store would be classified as a misdemeanor.

Non-violent felonies can include things such as theft by taking or theft by deception. This can include cases where an employee may steal money from their employer’s bank account, for example. Non-violent felonies, such as drug cases, that involve large quantities or sale of drugs could involve significant jail time, even though they are considered non-violent.

Certain courts, judges and prosecutors in Georgia can be very punitive. Former Governor Nathan Deal helped push through many criminal justice reforms, during his two terms, but not all jurists and prosecutors agreed with the changes. Unlike many states, some Georgia courts frequently look to incarcerate people.

In Georgia, every municipalities and counties may have similar ordinance violations for which a crime might avoid being reported to the GCIC. The penalty for ordinance violations can be paying a $1,000 fine and six months or less in jail. Violating an ordinance does not entitle that individual to have a jury trial. Plus, that ordinance accusation will stay with the entry level court in which the ordinance violation is accused.

For example, if an individual receives an ordinance violation for disorderly conduct in John’s Creek, his or her case is heard in Johns Creek Municipal Court. An individual is not able to move the case out of the Municipal Court of Johns Creek to Fulton County State Court. This all sounds good, but a municipality will sometimes offer a harsher penalty on an ordinance violation, due to the corresponding benefits of not having a criminal conviction on State records.

Long-Term Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction

A misdemeanor conviction in Georgia can affect someone’s ability to get certain types of jobs and may be perceived negatively when an employer runs the person’s background search. A misdemeanor conviction also must be disclosed on many sorts of important applications such as for college, nursing school, law school, medical school or for graduate school.

Certain misdemeanor convictions can affect security clearances and background checks in certain circumstances. Generally, those would be for a crime of moral turpitude, like stealing money from your employer.

Moral turpitude crimes involve conduct that is against the community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals. These are typically the types of criminal offenses that get you in trouble for background searches or security clearances.

Conviction of a misdemeanor crime will typically involve attending some type of rehabilitative classes (e.g., anger management, DUI school, DUI court intensive probation). Beyond trying to adjust behavior of the offender, performing community service hours, being place on probation and paying fines and surcharges.

The long-term consequences of these convictions may prohibit you from getting a job or promotion. They sometimes result in the inability to travel outside the United States and return to the United States when they are not a lawful citizen.

Experienced Criminal Lawyers Near Me in Georgia Explain Options

Our award-winning, three-partner Atlanta DUI attorney law firm has four metro Atlanta GA office locations. William C. Head, Cory E. Yager, and Lawrence A. (Larry) Kohn have over 75 years of collective criminal defense experience. If charged with a felony or misdemeanor, our law office offers:

When you hire a member of our law group, you get unsurpassed legal industry credentials (see legal books above). Plus, you receive a FREE lawyer consultation or by Facetime or alternative digital media source. Call our attorneys in Atlanta at (404) 567-5515 and ask about our attorneys’ fee payment plans, using periodic credit card payments.

While receiving a charge for underage drinking and driving can be a frightening situation, know that you do not have to face it alone. A qualified Atlanta underage DUI lawyer could represent you in court and advocate for your best interests throughout your trial. A skilled defense attorney could examine the arrest procedure that law enforcement carried out to make sure it was lawful.

In the case of an unlawful arrest and search of one’s vehicle, evidence from those events cannot be used in court. Read on to learn more about how an experienced Atlanta underage DUI lawyer could make a difference in your case today.

Underage Arrests

If a driver under 21 has any measurable amount of alcohol in their system, that alone is enough to convict them without showing that they were actually impaired while behind the wheel. This would be the equivalent of having a BAC level of at least .02%. If an officer smells alcohol on their breath, they will most likely arrest them and take them in for a blood, breath, or urine test. The standard for an arrest often relates to how well the individual can stand, walk, and talk when performing a field sobriety test.

Their manner of driving is also significant in deciding this as well. Know that when speaking to an officer, a driver can ask for the protection of a lawyer at any point during a stop or arrest. For this reason, they can politely decline to answer any questions until they have legal counsel from a seasoned Atlanta underage DUI lawyer. This can help an individual avoid making any incriminating statements that may be recorded by law enforcement.

Case Process

An underage DUI case can start off in the Municipal Court of Atlanta and then move to either the State Court of Fulton County or the State Court of DeKalb County, depending upon where it occurred. If the individual under 21 or their lawyer wants to have a jury trial, the case will be moved out of Municipal Court of Atlanta. Know that a weathered Atlanta underage DUI lawyer could assist an individual every step of the way during this process.

Sentencing for an underage DUI case could range from house arrest, treatment programs, and jail time. If the sentence requires jail time, it is a non-negotiable outcome of a conviction. While alcohol rehabilitation programs are rarely awarded for individuals who are first-time offenders, multiple offenders could request to participate in these types of treatments to help get their life back on track.

Role of an Atlanta Underage DUI Lawyer

Following a DUI conviction, an individual should also expect a suspension of their driver’s license for an extended period of time. In order to fight against these potential consequences, an individual will want a professional Atlanta underage DUI lawyer on their side to fight for their rights. Having a criminal conviction on one’s permanent record as a young adolescent could potentially affect a student’s ability to get into college and apply to certain types of jobs.

Some high schools are very strict about alcohol consumption as well, and a conviction could even result in being expelled from the school they currently attend. Know that a dedicated Atlanta underage DUI lawyer could create a strong defense strategy in your favor in order to protect you from these penalties. If you wish to fight against your charges, schedule an initial consultation with a skilled Atlanta underage DUI lawyer today.

While considering the Atlanta underage DUI penalties after receiving an accusation for driving under the influence can be a frightening scenario, know that you do not have to face it alone. A dedicated defense lawyer could advocate for your rights by gathering evidence, interviewing expert witnesses, and crafting a strong defense on your behalf. Read on to learn more about the different Atlanta underage DUI penalties, as well as the ways a skilled attorney could potentially make a difference in your case today.

Potential Atlanta Underage DUI Penalties

It is important to understand that Atlanta underage DUI penalties are the same for individuals who are legally allowed to drink, including a license suspension or time spent in jail. However, the court may take an added interest in an individual under 21 because they wish to rehabilitate them before an alcohol-related problem develops. If the individual’s alcohol level was below 0.08%, a driver under 21 will lose their driver’s license for six months with no work permit. If alcohol level was above 0.08%, they will lose their license for 12 months without a work permit. In order to fight against these Atlanta underage DUI penalties, it can be significant to have a professional defense attorney on one’s side to advocate for their best interests.

Future Consequences

Receiving a conviction for a DUI under the age of 21 can potentially have negative effects on one’s future. Atlanta underage DUI penalties can extend beyond a prison sentence to have an effect on one’s ability to get into college or receive future employment. If a student’s current institution has a very strict policy toward drinking, they may have the ability to expel a student for their behavior as well.

Future employers have the right to ask potential employees whether or not they have been convicted of a crime before, and this could certainly affect their decision to hire someone. Because these Atlanta underage DUI penalties can have far-reaching consequences on an individual’s future prospects, retaining an experienced lawyer to fight for one’s rights can be extremely important.

The Role of a Skilled Defense Attorney

When considering one’s Atlanta underage DUI penalties, a young individual will need the guidance of an experienced criminal lawyer on their side to help them understand the trial process and what their legal options are. A local attorney will have a relationship with the prosecutors, and will be able to predict their potential courses of action based on their past cases together. A lawyer with experience will know how to determine if there were problems involved in the sobriety tests or if an arrest was unlawful.

If law enforcement did not have a probable cause to search one’s vehicle, anything gathered from that search cannot be used as evidence and may be able to be suppressed by the defense. An attorney with knowledge about Atlanta underage DUI penalties will know what an adolescent is facing, and will do their best to work to mitigate the penalties involved or have one’s charges dropped altogether. If you wish to fight against your underage Atlanta DUI penalties, reach out to a determined criminal lawyer today for your initial consultation.

Client Reviews
Great lawyer helped me out a lot. Very attentive, made me feel comfortable and at ease!! Really knows his stuff - would use him anytime. M.L.
Mr. Larry Kohn could not have been more helpful. I sent him a message for a free consultation, and unfortunately my case had to be handled in another state. But he completely walked me through everything I needed to do, and even offered to assist the lawyer I did find in Virginia should they need help with my case. Jamie V.
Mr. Kohn is just amazing. He is truthful and realistic when explaining potential outcomes of your case and doesn’t force you to hire him or anything. When I met him, he went through everything about the case and ways to fight it off first before even telling me about his services. He got my case dismissed and kept me out of a lot of potential problems with school applications and future job opportunities. I highly recommend him to anyone. Anurag G.