The difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge in Georgia is that a misdemeanor carries a maximum 12-month penalty with a maximum $1,000 fine. A felony, on the other hand, is considered to be a more serious crime, punishable with no less than one year served in jail and up to the maximum fines for each particular offense. Misdemeanor cases are handled by the state court in Fulton County, while felony cases are handled by the superior court in Fulton County.
Complex or violent felony cases can take a long time to go through the court system. Those offenses may include murder, rape, armed robbery, and significant financial theft cases. Vehicular homicide or serious injuries by vehicles are considered to be complex cases, and are handled by the number of elected superior court judges. Other cases that are considered non-complex cases such as low-level possession of drugs or possession with intent to distribute drugs, are handled by the magistrate judges in the Fulton County Superior Court.
If you are facing criminal charges in Fulton County, our locally knowledgeable defense attorneys can walk you through the process and explain the specifics of your charges, while working to build you the most robust defense to face those charges.
Prosecution of Felonies
Fulton County prosecutors absolutely treat felonies differently from misdemeanors. For one thing, the timeline of a felony case is more accelerated. Fulton County prosecutors generally do not have the discretion to do anything with their cases, and they must get approval from a higher level prosecutor to dismiss or amend the charges, or do something different from the original charge that was brought. Fulton County court is a very traditional top-down administration, and as a result, it is important to get an attorney on these cases early and try to contact one of the senior prosecutors to have them take a look at the file and see what can be done.
Any felony offense is defined in Georgia by the punishment that accompanies it. Felony by definition is one hundred percent based on the punishment that can be levied. Typically, felony cases are considered to be significantly more serious than a misdemeanor; that is why they have a harsher penalty or punishment.
Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
The long-term consequences of a misdemeanor conviction in Fulton County depend on what the convicted person does for a living. Some jobs within regulated industries such as being a pilot, a teacher, or a physician, can be significantly impacted by the issue of a misdemeanor offense.
Contacting a Lawyer
Early in a case, an attorney can start digging up witnesses and have an investigator speak to them. The attorney wants to get statements quickly because memories fade and witnesses may move. In addition, videotapes may be obtained. The investigation must take place early to identify any potential defense.
Many people are hesitant to seek counsel out of fear that they will be implicating themselves. However, it does not imply guilt to ask to speak to a lawyer. As an analogy, a dentist would not fill his or her own cavity, and a defendant should not fill their own defense. Thus, it makes no sense not to speak with a lawyer. Worst case, a defense attorney may tell you that there is nothing he or she can do or that there may be no need to hire a lawyer, but there is no reason to actively avoid retaining legal guidance.