Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
Experienced Atlanta, GA criminal defense attorneys provide skilled advocacy
Facing a criminal charge and subsequent trial in Atlanta, GA can be extremely daunting. You may be recovering from a traumatic arrest, as well as any issues with your family or career that arose due to the criminal charges. An arrest on your record, and potentially a conviction, can have far-reaching effects that can damage many areas of your life, meaning seeing the criminal charge through cannot be left to chance. Regardless of what type of criminal charge you’re facing here in Atlanta, you need the guidance of a reliable defense lawyer to get through your upcoming legal proceedings.
Knowledgeable Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers represent accused individuals.
If you have been charged with a crime in the Atlanta area or any part of Georgia, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your case is given the time and attention it deserves. The attorneys at The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC provide dedicated support to each client we represent. We are intimately familiar with all facets of the Georgia criminal justice system and backed by that knowledge and experience. We are able to guide you through the process while ensuring you understand your legal options. Our results-oriented approach is intended to help clients move past the difficulty of their criminal charges and onto the next chapter of their lives. If you’re searching for criminal representation that you can depend on in Atlanta, do not wait to bring your case to The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC.
What Happens After Being Arrested?
Being taken into custody is the official start of your arrest. There are two potential routes after this has occurred. In the event of some misdemeanors, the police will cite you for the charge, then release you on your own recognizance until the court date on your citation. If you are charged with a more serious crime, you will be taken to the police station to be processed. The steps that follow include:
- Being Booked: For those not released at the scene, the next step is to be taken to the police station. You would then be booked into the system. The police will collect information to keep on file—this information might include your photographs, a DNA sample, fingerprints, and details about the arrest.
- Custodial Interrogation: Though some questions might occur during the booking process, they will be mainly to collect the required information. Once the questions switch from this general information to more specific information about your case, a custodial interrogation has begun. Depending on your circumstances, a custodial interrogation may or may not occur. If it does, you have many rights, including Miranda rights, that must be protected during that process. Your rights include the right to consult an attorney, the right to remain silent, and the right to exercise these rights at any time. It is the police’s job to gather evidence during this interrogation, and a lawyer can help ensure you do not say anything that could be incriminating, accidentally or otherwise. Even if you are innocent, it is always recommended to speak with an attorney. Being arrested and going through booking can be stressful experiences, so an attorney can be a calming presence while you are feeling unbalanced and anxious.
- Initial Appearance: This first court appearance is where prosecutors will get involved—they are responsible for reading the police report and filing charges. At this point, your status changes from suspect to defendant. The court appearance must occur within 48 hours if you are arrested without a warrant or 72 hours if you were arrested with a warrant, and it usually happens inside a courtroom in the jail with a magistrate judge. You can expect the charges to be revealed and a public defender assigned, if necessary. If the magistrate appoints a public defender if you do not already have an attorney and if they have the authority, they will decide on whether to grant bail or not.
- Waiting For Your Trial: Waiting for your court date will happen in one of two ways, at home or in jail. Depending on the severity of the crime, you may be given the opportunity to post bail. If you are granted bail and can afford to pay it, you will be released. You are then responsible for meeting all the bail conditions and ensuring your presence at court on the day and time of your next court appearance. If you are denied bail or cannot afford to pay, you will have to wait for your court date in jail.
- Preliminary Hearing: If you are not released on bail, you will be granted a preliminary hearing. A judge will use this hearing to determine if it is more likely than not that a crime occurred and that you committed that crime or were a party to it. If they find these to be true and there is probable cause to believe you committed the crime, you will be held over in jail until your case is moved to a higher court for further proceedings. Those released on bail in Georgia are not entitled to a preliminary hearing.
- The Trial: Once the preliminary steps have taken place, the trial will officially begin. The first step of the trial is an arraignment, where you will enter your plea. While following the rules of the jurisdiction, the prosecution will aim to prove your guilt without a reasonable doubt. Getting the greatest possible outcome from your case requires that you obtain an attorney with a wealth of knowledge and experience about the court hearing your case. The outcome of your trial will determine your innocence or guilt, then a corresponding sentence will be applied.
Factors that Will Affect Your Bail
For many, the initial appearance will determine your eligibility for bail. There are several statutory factors that the judge must consider when determining whether to set bail and what amount.
- You must not pose a significant risk of leaving the court’s jurisdiction or not appearing in court when required.
- You must not pose a significant danger or threat to any person, to the community, or to any community property.
- You must not pose a significant risk of committing a felony while waiting for your trial.
- You must not pose a significant threat to witnesses through intimidation or other obstruction of justice.
However, there are some charges where the magistrate does not have the authority to set your bail. If you have been charged with one of these crimes, your case must be heard later by a superior court judge. These charges include:
- Armed Robbery and Home Invasion in the First Degree
- Aggravated Sodomy
- Hijacking a Motor Vehicle or Aircraft
- Aggravated Stalking
- Aggravated Sexual Battery
- Aggravated Child Molestation
- Gang Activity
- Manufacture or sale of a Schedule I or II Controlled Substance
The Different Plea Options to Enter at Arraignment
An arraignment is the next step in the process where you appear before the trial court and have the charges against you detailed. During this step, you will have the opportunity to enter a plea to those charges. A plea is your formal response to the charges against you. In some jurisdictions, it is possible to waive the court appearance for the arraignment by sending a waiver that includes your plea. Your plea options include the following:
- Not Guilty – This is the most frequently entered plea. Your next step is to go through a trial by your peers, who will determine your guilt or innocence. It is the most recommended plea by defense attorneys, especially if they believe in their ability to cast reasonable doubt on a jury.
- Plea Refusal – If you refuse to enter any plea, the courts will treat it as a not-guilty plea to best protect your rights.
- Guilty – Full admitting to the crime is entering a guilty plea. This requires court approval because it involves waiving your right to a trial by your peers. Since the court system requires that your rights be protected, it must verify that you understand what waiving your rights means.
- No Contest – Also called nolo contendere, a no-contest plea means that you accept the punishment for the crime without admitting guilt. This plea will need court approval because it involves the same waiver of rights as a guilty plea.
Depending on your case and the prosecution, you may have the option for a plea bargain. This may be a useful strategy if there are multiple charges, if the evidence against you is strong, or if you are willing to cooperate in exchange for information the prosecution wants for other cases. If you’re unsure whether taking a plea bargain is right for your situation, talk to your defense lawyer about what they think is the wisest choice. The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC can ensure that you understand your rights in a plea deal and educate you on your options.
Respected Georgia firm seeks dismissals, exoneration, and fair plea deals.
The lawyers at The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC represent clients in local, state, and federal courts. We take on charges ranging from minor offenses and misdemeanors to serious felonies, seeking the greatest possible result, whether that comes with the charges being dropped, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a favorable plea agreement. Your criminal defense attorney must be deeply familiar with criminal proceedings to ensure no avenue is unexplored.
- Dismissal: A dismissal occurs when the judge presiding over the case terminates the legal proceedings. A judge can dismiss a case at any point during the trial and even before any evidence is shown or testimony heard. The judge can make the ruling themselves, but it frequently occurs due to the defendant’s legal team filing a motion to dismiss. The prosecution can also choose to drop the charges. When a dismissal is granted, no further testimony, evidence, or imploring will be heard on the case.
- Plea Deal: Also known as a plea bargain or plea agreement, a plea deal is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant. In exchange for pleading guilty or no contest to charges, the prosecution will agree to discharge some charges or set a more lenient sentence. The terms of the deal must be accepted by the prosecution, the defendant, and the judge over the case. You will not begin or continue a trial if a plea deal is taken.
- Not guilty: A not guilty verdict is returned by the courts when there is no certainty of guilt without a reasonable doubt. You would have had to go through a trial, and your attorneys would have convinced the jury that you are innocent of the crime for which you are being accused.
- Exoneration: Conviction of a crime is not the end of the line for your fight against criminal charges. If your innocence can be proven after the conviction, you will be exonerated of the charges and declared innocent. This situation can be especially difficult if the person has spent years in prison or has already been executed due to the sentence, so getting an experienced attorney is vital for gaining innocence and restitution.
Our firm may provide counsel and representation for clients charged with the following:
- Violent crimes — Our attorneys build self-defense arguments and other strong legal responses to violent crime charges, such as those for murder, assault, and rape.
- Driving offenses — If you have been charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving with a suspended license, or another traffic offense, we can examine the police report for potential vulnerabilities.
- Drug violations — Our firm handles charges related to the possession, distribution, and cultivation of illegal substances, and our goal is to help clients avoid harsh penalties.
- Sex crimes — Sentences for sexual offenses can carry lifelong consequences. We will work to ensure that your side of the story is told and that your rights are protected.
- Theft — During negotiations with prosecutors and in court, we respond to larceny, robbery, and other theft charges.
Our dedicated legal team is capable of defending individuals against a wide range of criminal accusations. Once we accept a case, we readily address any obstacles that arise.
Attentive attorneys advise clients throughout the criminal justice process.
At The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC, we are prepared to go the extra mile to seek the justice you deserve. Through meticulous preparation and strict attention to detail, our efforts focus on achieving the greatest possible outcome for you under the facts of your case. We speak with witnesses, comb through police records and thoroughly examine the alleged crime scene, if necessary. We may also bring in experts who challenge the prosecution and help us prepare trial strategies.
We know that nothing is more important than your freedom. If you need a defense attorney who is dedicated to your case, contact us today.
Q: How Long Does a Criminal Trial Take in Georgia?
A: The length of a criminal trial in Georgia can be incredibly unpredictable. Unfortunately, due to backups in the local, state, and federal justice systems, criminal trials can take anywhere from a few weeks or months to multiple years to complete. There are a collection of aspects that may impact how long your trial takes, including the type of crime you were accused of, your charge’s severity, and whether the prosecution needs time to gather evidence.
Q: Are You Required to Have an Attorney in a Criminal Case?
A: While state and federal laws give defendants the opportunity to waive their rights to representation and defend themselves, this is highly discouraged. Working with a skilled defense lawyer who has knowledge and experience of Georgia criminal law can help you immensely in a criminal trial. When you retain a criminal defense lawyer, you can receive legal advice, emotional support, and persuasive representation that’s dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights. Without a defense attorney, navigating a criminal trial and attempting to defend yourself with little knowledge of the law can be disastrous.
Q: What Is Expungement?
A: The legal system allows specific criminal charges to be erased from qualifying individuals’ records through what is known as expungement. Expungement is generally only offered to individuals who:
- Are charged with nonviolent misdemeanors
- Have just one offense on their record
- Had the charges against them dropped
However, only eligible offenses may be expunged. This generally excludes felonies or violent crimes. If you were charged with a criminal offense in Atlanta, bring your expungement concerns to The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC.
Q: What Is the Difference Between a Preliminary Hearing and a Trial?
A: Because all criminal charges vary in severity, every case must go through a preliminary hearing. In a preliminary hearing, a judge will listen to the accusations against the defendant and decide whether there is enough evidence to continue to trial. The prosecution and defense do not present all their evidence at this time and, instead, state their arguments. If a judge decides that the case will move forward to trial, they will then set a bond or bail for the defendant and schedule a trial date. Once the trial begins, both sides can then present their full arguments and all the evidence that they gathered to back their case.
Contact Our Atlanta, GA Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
If criminal charges have been filed against you or a loved one, choose a criminal defense team with the resources and experience to make a difference. Call The Law Office of Delisa Williams PC at 404-903-1037 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our Atlanta office stands ready to represent you in your criminal matter.