What to Expect in a Criminal Case


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What to Expect

Georgia Criminal Court Process

The process from arrest and being booked, to disposition of criminal charges, can be very confusing. There are variances on the arrest process in Georgia, depending on the types of charges.

To avoid making costly mistakes you should hire a lawyer that will guide and protect you through the criminal justice process. Time is not on your side. In fact, you're simply giving the prosecutor time to build their case while you have stand by without defending yourself. The sooner a lawyer can intervene on your behalf, the better your chances for the best possible outcome.

Arrest and Being Formally Charged

Some arrests happen as the result of an arrest warrant while some happen due to sudden, unexpected problems. When you are arrested you will be transported to a local jail and formally booked on specific charges. Your case file, which includes police reports and documentation of evidence, will be forwarded to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor will determine applicable charges, and has the ability to dismiss charges.

How long do I have to stay in jail?

The amount of time you will be in jail depends on many circumstances. For a misdemeanor DUI, with no open warrants, you may bond out of jail within a few hours. For most misdemeanor and felony charges, without open warrants your first appearance will be within 48 hours of your arrest. If you were arrested as the result of a warrant your first appearance will be within 72 hours. When a judge sets your bail, the time to get out of jail depends on your ability to post bail. If you cannot post bail you will be held until you can or your case is resolved. If your situation is highly egregious, bond may be denied and you will be held in jail until your case is resolved.

What is an Initial Appearance?

An initial appearance, also known as a first appearance or preliminary hearing is made in a courtroom before a judge. The judge will read the charges and ask you (or your lawyer) how you plead (guilty / not guilty).

At your initial appearance, the judge will set the amount of bail, or deny bail for highly egregious charges. If you do not have a lawyer with you the judge may ask if you need a court appointed lawyer.

Plea Negotiation and Trial

Your lawyer has a number of options regarding how to handle your case. The most common ways a criminal defense lawyer manages a client's case are:

  • Argue for Dismissal Some arrests are result from misunderstandings, lies, false accusation, planted evidence, and aggressive policing. When the charges are clearly unwarranted, evidence is lacking, or witness statements are conflicting the prosecutor may recognize that the case is flimsy and will not pursue charges.
  • Negotiation and Plea Deals can be used to have charges reduced, drop charged "stacked" on the primary charge, and otherwise work with the prosecutor to affect the best possible outcome.
  • Trial Representation to fight charges in local, state or federal courts.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Cherokee County GA

If you need help with misdemeanor or felony charges in Georgia you need to consult with a defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact a criminal defense lawyer online or call 770-956-1400.