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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer
WHY CHOOSE OUR LAW FIRM
KNOWLEDGEABLE – SKILLED – TRUSTWORTHY
When we represent you, you become part of our family
At Schnipper Law, P.C., we are compassionate, dedicated and experienced. Our Atlanta law firm is well-prepared to handle criminal defense, DUI defense and personal injury cases delivering excellent service that has garnered legal awards and top ratings from clients and peers alike. At our firm, we know that everyone’s situation and goals are different. We always find tailored solutions to what our clients wish to accomplish.
If your rights or wellbeing are threatened, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you need dependable and experienced representation after a DUI arrest, deserve aggressive criminal defense or need to pursue fair compensation for an accident, you can face your legal matter with confidence if you choose to join forces with our team. We would be more than happy to speak with you about your case and advise you on your next course of action. Don’t wait to get our skilled team working for you.
David Schnipper is featured as Attorney of the Month in Attorney at Law Magazine Digital Vol.2 No1. In this article, writer Dan Baldwin sat down with Attorney Schnipper to learn all about the “Schnipper Difference”. Read about it here…
A LAW FIRM DEDICATED TO YOU
While experience and expertise is significant, what really drives the success of our firm is our passion. We manage each case with an understanding that the work we do has a considerable effect on our clients and their families. Not in anyway do we ever forget that each case includes a real person that has endured real pain and a real loss. We understand that your life has been turned upside down and our goal is to go the extra mile to help you move past the unfortunate incident so you can get your life back on track. When we choose to take a case, we do so with a promise to see it through to the end and the determination to seek a favorable and winning result.
The Criminal Process in Atlanta
From the moment you are arrested, or formally or informally accused of a crime, you are at extreme risk and you need a lawyer to represent you. The criminal justice process is intimidating, scary, and complex. It can be even worse for those who have been accused of a crime, even if you know you are innocent.
Your lawyer serves as a shield between you and the government. Whether or not you actually committed the crime you should never speak to anyone about the charges, except for an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney. Do not talk to the police, investigators, jail staff, or anyone else who can compromise your situation—including your friends—until you have first obtained the services of an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney. The Miranda rights we all know about from watching TV mean what they say: you have the right to remain silent. Use it. David Schnipper can advise you of your rights and explain the criminal process to you so it’s easier to understand.
If you have only been accused of a crime but not yet charged, having an attorney by your side can also give you at least a fighting chance of avoiding charges altogether.
Your Arrest and Initial Court Appearance
All criminal cases need to begin somewhere and that starting point is the arrest of a suspect. The arrest can take place at the scene of the crime or at a later date with an arrest warrant. A magistrate judge must issue an arrest warrant for the police to arrest a suspect if time has passed since the date of the crime.
When you are arrested, or taken into custody, the arresting officer is required to inform you of your rights, which are known as Miranda Rights. They begin with one of the most recognizable sentences in history, “You have the right to remain silent.” Your Miranda rights include the following:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney before speaking with police and to have an attorney present during any questioning.
- If you cannot afford your own attorney, one can be appointed for you.
The police will then ask you if you understand your rights as they have read them to you. They will also inform you that you can stop answering any questions at any time while your lawyer is not present. Then they will ask if you will answer any questions. You are free to say yes or no—and understand that saying no does not implicate you in any crime.
If you are ever arrested without being read your Miranda Rights, or without your understanding of them, David Schnipper can build a strong defense to the charges filed against you. It is important that you invoke your rights the minute they are read to you by the arresting officer. Failure to invoke your right to remain silent until your lawyer is present can lead to you saying something that could implicate you in a crime.
When these types of situations arise, contact an Atlanta Criminal Defense lawyer at Schnipper Law, P.C. We will fight for your rights. Call us today (404) 545-5845 for a FREE Consultation.
The Preliminary Hearing
An arraignment is your first appearance in court to respond to formal charges that have been filed against you by the state’s attorney. At the arraignment, your criminal defense attorney enters a plea on your behalf, after having discussed your options with you and deciding how you want to plead.
At the arraignment, the court will decide whether you will be released, if bail will be set and at what amount, or detained pending resolution of the charges. You are within your rights to request a preliminary hearing if you’ve yet to post bond and if you have yet to be indicted of a crime. This hearing allows you to find out the evidence that has been collected against you. It also allows you to challenge the charges or warrant if they lack probable cause. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid detention, and may also argue for lenient terms of release.
The District Attorney’s Office will formally file charges against you either in an indictment or an accusation. Prosecutors must present the most serious offenses to a grand jury for an indictment. When an accusation is issued it can be directly issued with the court for crimes such as identity fraud, forgery, drug offenses, credit card fraud, theft, and any misdemeanor offense. A defendant does not have to be present during a grand jury hearing for an indictment.
Arraignment and Pre-Trial Motions
All criminal defendants have the right under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution to have legal representation present at their arraignment and at all other stages of the criminal justice process. It’s important for you to exercise this right because having an attorney present can make it easier to understand the charges against you as well as an answer for you in court. Once the indictment or accusation is issued the defendant will enter a plea, usually not guilty, and has 10 days to file pre-trial motions for the case.
Should the defendant fail to show up for the arraignment and not send a lawyer in their place, the judge could issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant. In most cases, the judge will not allow the defendant to post bond if arrested for missing the arraignment. Should you decide to plead not guilty the judge will add your case to the calendar and set a date for the trial to begin.
After arraignment, the pre-trial period begins. Both sides will submit pre-trial motions—often your attorney will do so to exclude evidence that can harm your case. The judge will issue rulings on these motions before impaneling the jury.
An experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney typically requests discovery from the state and begins investigating your case. The goal is to evaluate the strength of the state’s evidence and to explore any defenses you may have. Remember, to convict you at a trial, the state must be able to convince a jury of your peers that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Depending on what your criminal defense attorney learns after evaluating the evidence, it may be in your interest to enter into negotiations with the state’s attorney to reach a plea agreement for a lesser charge or with the state’s agreement to support a specific sentence. An experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney knows what facts and legal issues are important to the state’s attorney, and what an appropriate plea might look like for your situation.
Of course, it is always your decision whether to have your lawyer engage in plea negotiations, and whether to accept any plea that’s offered.
Any plea should benefit you and come as a result of the defendant’s attorney’s ability to negotiate with the prosecutor assigned to the case. It’s also possible for a non-negotiated plea to be entered. This occurs when the judge determines the sentence of the defendant without a jury trial. A defendant who opts to accept a pre-trial negotiated plea can expect a lesser sentence compared to one that could be handed down by a jury trial.
Types of Crimes We Handle
Schnipper Law handles many types of criminal cases, including:
The Trial Procedure
Every person accused of a crime has the right to a jury trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can defend you at trial and, if you are convicted, at sentencing, to ensure you receive justice and, if convicted, the most lenient sentence possible under the circumstances.
Should your case wind up going to trial, you can decide whether you want a jury trial or a bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge hears all the evidence in the case, arguments from both sides, and then makes a ruling and issues the sentence if you are found guilty. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Atlanta like David Schnipper can provide you with an honest evaluation of your case after working for two District Attorneys’ offices.
If your case is going to a jury trial, it will begin with the selection of the jurors, which is done by the prosecutor and defense attorney interviewing all the possible jurors.
Once the trial begins, it will start with opening statements from both sides. The prosecutor will start the trial by calling their witnesses and the defense will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses called by the prosecutor. The prosecution will eventually rest and the defense can begin calling their witnesses, all of whom can be cross-examined by the prosecution.
Once the defense rests, the judge will send the jury to deliberate. If the jury returns a guilty verdict, the trial will come to an end and you will undergo a separate hearing for sentencing. During the sentencing hearing, the defense attorney will present mitigating evidence to reduce the severity of the penalty levied against the defendant. Mitigating evidence can include any of the following:
- Charitable acts by the defendant
- Family support
- The role of the defendant in the offense
- If the defendant was coerced or deceived into committing the crime
The defendant has the right to appeal the result of the trial, or their conviction, if they believe that it is unfair or wrong. There is a catch with an appeal—only a legal error can form the basis of an appeal. This can include incorrectly issuing instructions to the jury or incorrectly introducing harmful evidence into the trial.
Every crime in Georgia is categorized as a misdemeanor, a high and aggravated misdemeanor, or a felony. Felonies are the most serious. Georgia statutes outline the penalties for each. As a general matter, the more serious the crime and the more times you have been convicted of a crime, the greater your potential penalties will be.
If you have never been convicted of a crime, then you should be aware that having a criminal conviction on your record could change your life. A felony conviction can cause you to lose important rights and can even make living your life and finding a job difficult. That is why it’s so important to have a lawyer by your side to help you fight charges if you can, and minimize the consequences if fighting isn’t an option, or if you lose the fight.
Potential Defenses to Crimes
Every case is different, and there isn’t enough space here to categorize all of the ways that you may defend yourself against a criminal charge. But, here are some of those ways that are relatively common:
- Statute of limitations. For most crimes, the state has a fixed amount of time in which it must file formal charges. If the state attempts to file charges outside of that time period, that is often an absolute defense.
- Justification and self-defense. Some violent crimes, such as assault and battery, may be justified by a need to defend yourself or others.
- Lack of intent. Some crimes require you to have intended to take a criminal act. If you can prove the crime was unintentional, you may have a strong defense.
- Alibi/mistaken identification. Sometimes people are accused of crimes because they physically resemble someone else who actually committed the crime. If you can demonstrate you were nowhere near where the crime took place or that someone has misidentified you, then that can be a powerful defense.
The best way to develop a defense is to leave it in the hands of an experienced criminal defense attorney like the team at Schnipper Law. The sooner you call us to get involved in defending you against a criminal charge, the better your chances of mounting a vigorous and successful defense.
Enforce Your Right to a Presumption of Innocence
The law says every criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise. But, many of our clients at Schnipper Law feel as if they’re not treated that way, and we’re sad to say, that’s not unusual. The best way to make sure the government treats you as presumed innocent is to hire experienced Atlanta criminal defense counsel right away. We will stand up for your rights.
Schnipper Law Is Here to Help
We recognize the fact that simply being faced with a criminal charge does not guarantee you will be convicted of that charge. In many cases, it is possible to have the court either reduce or dismiss the charges. Our clients have found themselves eligible for pre-trial diversion and pre-trial intervention programs that have prevented them from going to court. If you don’t qualify for one of these programs our team can build a strong defense to the charges to reduce or dismiss them.
The Atlanta criminal defense lawyer at Schnipper Law, P.C., has represented every type of felony and misdemeanor case in Georgia. From misdemeanor traffic offenses to felony homicide charges, we know what it takes to defend you in court. Make sure you remember that you are never forced to talk to a police officer about any crime you are suspected of committing until you have a lawyer present. Visit our practice areas for hit and run crashes, obstruction of justice, fleeing police, domestic violence, drug charges, armed robbery, weapons charges and more to get a better understanding of your case and how we can handle it.
Contact Us Today
If you’re ready to get answers, or even to take the first step in your case, don’t wait days or even weeks to speak with an attorney.Please call 404-545-5845 and/or request your free one-hour confidential, initial consultation online today!
CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION
2300 Henderson Mill Rd #300
Atlanta, GA 30345
Our main office is located inside the Perimeter in DeKalb County
with easy access from l-285 or l-85
FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE
We have a satellite office in Buckhead (Fulton County)