Criminal Defense FAQs

Criminal defense cases are complex and frustrating. The Schnipper Law Office handles cases on a daily basis just like yours. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about defending a criminal charge in Georgia:

Can the Police Conduct a Search Without a Warrant in Georgia?

“The police can conduct a search without a warrant in Georgia under some circumstances, for example, a search incident into arrest. If you’re arrested, the police can have the ability to search you. Under exigent circumstances, if the police feels that someone, for example, is going to dispose of or get rid of or hide something involved in illegal activity, criminal activity, they can do a search. With the automobile exception, the police has to have probable cause and not just a mere hunch and not stopping somebody for speeding or a red light, but some sort of probable cause, something they see in plain view or if they smell some sort of contraband. Also, if you consent to a search, if the police officer asks you and you consent to a search, they can also search you.”

What is the Difference Between a Felony, a Misdemeanor, and a Violation in Georgia?

“The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Georgia is as follows. A felony is charged by the district attorney’s office and is handled in superior court. The punishment of a felony starts with a year in prison and obviously can go up or depending upon the severity of the crime as well as or significant fines. A misdemeanor in Georgia is brought by the solicitor general’s office and is handled in either municipal court or state court. It can punishable up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. There’s also a high and aggravated misdemeanors that have significantly higher fines.”

What Should I Do If I Am Arrested in Georgia?

“If you are unfortunately arrested in Georgia you should immediately be very polite and cooperative with the law enforcement officer. But, do not answer any questions at all to the law enforcement officer, or an investigator, or a detective. Tell them immediately, very politely, that you would like the presence of an attorney. Also, when you are in jail awaiting hopeful bond, do not speak about your case to anybody, especially on the jail phone because all the jail phone calls are arrested. Once you’re released, immediately the first thing you should do is to retain an experienced, competent, and seasoned, aggressive criminal defense attorney.”

My Offense is Minor. Do I Really Even Need an Attorney or Can I Just Handle This On My Own?

“First of all, no offense is minor. The criminal judicial process in Georgia is very complex and tedious. It can be quite confusion, unless you seek out a competent, dependable, aggressive, and seasoned criminal defense attorney. The prosecutors and solicitors are trained, and they will take advantage of you unless you have somebody on your side that knows what they’re doing, and knows the jurisdiction, and knows the lay of the land, and knows the judges. This is your life that we’re talking about. Any conviction that’s permanent, especially a guilty conviction on your record can be detriment to your life and your career, so I totally advise that you get a competent criminal defense attorney.”

Why Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

“You should hire a criminal defense attorney even if you’re being investigated, obviously charged, or arrested, because you don’t want to wander aimlessly through the entirety of the judicial process, especially by yourself. You don’t want to go with a public defender because you won’t get the customer service and attention that you need. Your life, liberty, and even losing your personal assets is on the line here, and it’s very, very, very important that a favorable result is achieved without even a conviction. Because a conviction on you record could mean loss of employment, and it could be a hindrance for the rest of your life.”

When Do the Police Have to Read Me My Rights in Georgia?

“The police must read you your rights, called Miranda Rights, in Georgia, if they are questioning you and you’re detained. Detained could mean being that you’re in handcuffs, or you’re not free to leave. If they’re going to interrogate you, again when you’re detained and you’re not free to leave, they must read you your Miranda Rights.

If they don’t read you your Miranda Rights, and they do question and interrogate you, it’s possible that any statements you make could be suppressed and thrown out of court. It’s not exactly how people see it on TV all the time where their Miranda Rights must be read. It only must be read when you’re detained and they’re questioning you, and they’re wanting to use that statement in court, as evidence.”

Do I Have to Give Consent to a Law Enforcement Officer to Search My Car in Georgia?

“No, you do not have to give consent for a law enforcement officer to search a car in Georgia. They can only search your car if they have what’s called probable cause. This does not mean a mere traffic stop or running a red light or a stop sign or you’re having broken a taillight. They have to have some facts or evidence that a crime has been committed or is being committed. They can’t just have just a hunch. Examples of this would be if they see something in plain view, if they small for example narcotics, that would give them probable cause to then go ahead and search your vehicle.”

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