Being charged with a crime, or having a family member or loved one be charged with a crime, can be one of the most stressful and scary experiences of a lifetime.

While in the United States people are considered “innocent until proven guilty,” merely being charged with a crime can have a serious impact on someone’s life, from possible arrest and imprisonment to appearing in court, to having a criminal record.

Having a tough, passionate Johns Creek criminal lawyer to guide and advocate you through the process of criminal charges can be vital to the outcome of your case. Speak with an adept criminal defense attorney today, and know that you are in good hands.

Understanding Criminal Law

One of the most important things to understand about criminal law is the difference between criminal and civil law. Civil law governs matters such as divorce and child custody, or when one person sues the other for injuries caused in a car wreck.

Civil cases generally occur where a private citizen or business brings a case against another private citizen or business. A criminal case occurs when “the state,” represented by the Solicitor, brings criminal charges against someone.

While an individual may report a possible crime, it is ultimately the police and Solicitor’s decision how to respond and whether to make an arrest or bring charges. When facing criminal charges, a person may be held in jail or have the opportunity to post bail. For less serious crimes, a person may simply need to report for a court date. Once charged with a crime, a person will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If they plead guilty, the case may proceed to a trial.

Misdemeanors Versus Felonies

In Georgia, crimes range from misdemeanors punishable by a fine and/or up to 12 months in jail (as a maximum sentence) to violent felonies such as kidnapping and armed robbery, which can carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Criminal Charges Process

One option when facing criminal charges is to seek to have the charges dismissed, either through a motion or through trial. For example, if the police arrested a person in a way that violated their Fourth Amendment rights, that could lead to a judge refusing to admit the evidence. A person may wish to argue a defense at trial, such as self-defense when facing assault charges.

In many circumstances, the sentence for a misdemeanor might be a fine or community service.  Depending on the nature of the crime committed and someone’s prior criminal history, they may qualify to serve a suspended sentence and be placed on probation, rather than serving active jail time. A person with no prior pleas of guilty or nolo contendere may qualify for the First Offender program. Upon completing certain requirements, the person will not have a criminal conviction on their record.

A person also has the option of pursuing conditional discharge. Conditional discharge (usually for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana or underage alcohol possession) and drug court (usually for non-trafficking/distribution drug felonies) have rigorous requirements, including treatment classes, but can result in dismissal of charges. A Johns Creek criminal attorney may negotiate with the solicitor for the accused to plead to a less serious crime than the crime originally charged.

Contacting a Johns Creek Attorney

When dealing with criminal charges, early steps taken in the case can have a crucial impact on the eventual outcome. Do not hesitate to consult with a Johns Creek criminal lawyer who will advise you and fight for you. A criminal charge is something no one wants to face, but with help, it can be overcome. Contact an attorney today, and know that you have someone on your side.