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.
- marijuana possession
- domestic violence GA
- drug possession charges
- driving under the influence – is a DUI a felony or misdemeanor?
- theft crimes, such as shoplifting
- battery and simple battery
- homicide by vehicle (1st degree felonies and 2nd degree misdemeanors in GA)
- attempting to elude an officer
- hit and run GA
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.