Aggressive, Compassionate, & Responsive Criminal Defense

If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense in Georgia, you need an attorney who will fight for you.

Click here to contact me today for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your questions.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, traffic offense, or probation violation in Georgia, you probably have questions. Get answers here. And if you can’t find the answers here, get in touch anytime and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Criminal Court Procedures

Who are the players in a criminal case?

Legally, only the State of Georgia and the defendant are “parties” in a criminal case. However, in most criminal cases there are many more players. The State is represented by an attorney called the prosecutor. In misdemeanor cases the prosecutor may be the Solicitor General, and in felonies the District Attorney would prosecute. The prosecutor works with the police and any victims in the case to convince the judge and/or jury of your guilt. Of course, it is your Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney’s job to hold the State to its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

What is a plea?

A plea resolves your case without a trial. Pleas can be negotiated or non-negotiated (also known as a “blind” plea).

If a plea is negotiated, this means that your attorney and the prosecutor have agreed on an outcome that satisfies both sides. When you go to court, the judge is notified that an outcome has been negotiated, and the deal is presented to the judge. The judge ultimately decides whether to accept the plea deal or to reject it. If the judge rejects the deal, you have the right to withdraw (take back) your plea and go to trial.

A non-negotiated plea occurs when your Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney is unable to reach an agreement with the prosecutor. In a non-negotiated plea, both the prosecutor and your attorney present what they believe to be an appropriate resolution to the judge, and the judge ultimately decides on the outcome. This can be a good option in jurisdictions with unreasonable prosecutors. It is not, however, without risk – it leaves your sentence solely in the judge’s hands, and you do not have the right to withdraw your plea if you do not agree with what the judge decides.

The decision about whether to plead guilty in your case, and whether to move forward with a negotiated or a non-negotiated plea, should be made only after consultation with your Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney.

I may have missed a court date. What do I do now?

If you missed a court date, you may have a bench warrant – also known as a Failure to Appear or FTA warrant – for your arrest. Your license may also be suspended. First, you should call an attorney as soon as possible. You are at risk of being taken to jail if you happen to make contact with the police, even in a situation where most people would not be arrested (like if you get pulled over for speeding).

Click here or click the button below to read more about bench warrants resulting from failures to appear and the other potential consequences of missing a court date.

I have a warrant out for my arrest – what should I do?

You should call a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. In some jurisdictions, certain types of warrants are not difficult to clear up. But failing to clear up a pending warrant can result in a huge inconvenience. For example, if you are stopped for a minor traffic offense and you have a warrant out for your arrest, the police will most likely take you into custody, even if that offense would normally just result in a traffic citation and not arrest. If you think you might have a warrant out for your arrest, call me today. Only your attorney can properly advise you of what to do based on the particular type of warrant, the jurisdiction, and on the circumstances of your case. 

What is a preliminary hearing in Georgia?

At a preliminary hearing, a magistrate court judge makes a “preliminary” determination whether a crime has been committed and whether the accused person has committed it. The magistrate court judge also determines whether the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor and refers the case to the appropriate court.

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is not to determine whether a person is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather whether sufficient evidence, known as probable cause, exists to move forward with proceedings.

What is arraignment in Georgia?

At arraignment, the judge informs the accused of his or her rights and reads aloud the accusation or indictment. The accused then enters a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.”

What are motions in a Georgia criminal case?

Motions are where one of the parties in a case is asking for something that needs to be resolved prior to trial. There are many different kinds of motions.

The most common motions hearings that occur prior to trial deal with motions to suppress. In a motion to suppress, the defense attorney makes the argument that a certain piece of evidence is inadmissible because it was illegally obtained. The State presents its evidence and makes its argument that the information was legally obtained, and the judge makes a decision.

What happens when the person who “pressed charges” wants to drop the charges? Can I be charged with a crime if no one is pressing charges?

There is a common misconception that a person cannot be charged with a crime if no one is “pressing charges” against them. It’s true that many criminal cases begin with a person calling the police and alleging that they have been a victim of a crime. However, once some investigation has been done, the State takes over. At that point, it is really the State that is “pressing charges.” That is why criminal cases are listed in public records as “The State of Georgia vs. John Doe.” That is also why cases can proceed even if a victim wants to drop charges.

This is a complicated issue. I wrote a detailed blog post about that in case you want to learn more. You can check it out here or click the button below.

What is a Warrant Application Hearing in Georgia?

A Warrant Application Hearing is where a private citizen goes before a magistrate court judge and requests that another person be arrested.

In order to obtain a warrant, the applicant must fill out an application and provide certain information to the court. In some circumstances, they must also pay a fee. This fee is waived in domestic violence and sex crime cases. Ultimately, the case may go before a judge, who will decide if a warrant should be issued.

To learn more, click the button below to read my detailed blog post on Warrant Application Hearings in Georgia.

Hiring An Attorney

I think I may qualify for a public defender, so why should I hire an attorney?

Public defenders in Georgia carry massive caseloads. While most are competent attorneys, they simply do not have the time or the resources necessary to fight each case. In contrast, I work diligently to conduct a full investigation in each case and to ensure that each of my clients receives personal attention.

I think I want to plead guilty – Why do I need a lawyer?

You should never appear in court without an attorney, even if you believe that it is your best option to plead guilty. There are several reasons for this.

First, a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney is the best person to negotiate your case with the State and get you the best possible outcome. Because I have handled so many cases, I have worked with most of the judges and prosecutors in the many jurisdictions around the state of Georgia. As a result, I will provide you with great insight and advice about how harsh the sentence is likely to be and how we can get the most favorable outcome. 

Second, pleading guilty to a criminal or traffic offense may have collateral consequences that go beyond the sentence that the judge hands down in court. For example, while convictions in most traffic cases merely result in points on your license, there are some offenses that carry an automatic license suspension, which the judge may or may not inform you about in court. Other offenses can affect your immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Finally, pleading guilty may not actually be your best option. A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney is trained to examine all of the evidence in your case and to determine what valid defenses there may be to your criminal charge. In many cases, attorneys can find defenses that non-lawyers may not know about.


Do you charge hourly fees?

No. I charge a flat fee based on the complexity of the case. Typically, at our consultation meeting we will discuss fees and come to an agreement. I do not believe in surprising my clients with fees not previously discussed.

Know Your Rights

What are my rights if I’m stopped on foot by the police?

Knowing your rights can make the difference between a criminal conviction and an acquittal or dismissal of charges.

Under Georgia law, if you are are stopped by the police, you have the right to:

  1. Remain Silent. You do not have to answer any questions about where you are going, etc. Do not volunteer information, but do not lie.
  2. Ask if you are being detained. If the officer says you are free to leave or not being detained, you should leave.
  3. Decline to consent to a search of your personal or your personal items. They may search you anyway, but you should state verbally that you do not consent to search.
  4. Ask for a lawyer. Do not give any statements or sign anything without a lawyer present.

I wrote a blog post with even more advice on why these things are so important, as well as some other tips. Check it out here, or click the button below.

What are my rights a DUI Roadblock / Vehicle Safety Checkpoint?
  1. You do not have to answer any questions. I typically recommend that my clients politely decline to answer any questions asked of them by the police, because the police can use your words and your manner of speaking against you. For example, the police routinely write in their police reports that a person was “belligerent” or if they had “slurred speech.”
  2. You are not required to participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Whether or not the police inform you that these tests are voluntary, you legally cannot be compelled to perform them. Most attorneys who practice DUI law will tell you that these tests are difficult to pass even for a person who is not under the influence, and that they were designed that way. It is generally safer to decline to take them (again, politely).
  3. You should not consent to any searches of your vehicle. While in certain circumstances the police can search your vehicle even without your consent, it is much more difficult to challenge the legality of a search in court if you give the police your permission to search.

For more information, read my post about DUI Roadblocks / Vehicle Safety Checkpoints here, or click the button below.

What are my rights during a DUI stop?

If you are stopped for a suspected DUI, knowing your rights and asserting them properly can make a huge difference, and your attorney will thank you.

Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

  1. If you are pulled over, provide the officer with your license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. Do not engage in any unnecessary conversations with the officer.
  2. You are not legally obligated to submit to field sobriety testing, and I recommend that you do not.
  3. You are also not legally obligated to submit to state-administered chemical testing. You should know that, while you have this right, the State of Georgia attempts to make that refusal as painful as possible, and refusing may have implications for your driver’s license. That said, refusing may ultimately weaken the State’s criminal case against you.
  4. Ask for an attorney ASAP.

For more information, see my article here, or click the button below.

Traffic Cases

What is the Georgia Points System?

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) uses a points system to determine which drivers are habitual violators. Once a driver is convicted of a driving-related offense, the court sends a record of the conviction to DDS. DDS assigns points based on the severity of the offense. If a driver over 21 years old accumulates 15 points in 24 months, DDS will suspend that person’s driver’s license.

How do I get points off my driver’s license in Georgia?

Once every 5 years, drivers may request that DDS remove up to 7 points from their driving histories. To do this, you must complete a defensive driving course and either mail the certificate of completion to DDS or present it in person to a DDS office.

Click here for a complete list of DDS-approved Defensive Driving Schools.

What is a Defensive Driving course? How much do Defensive Driving classes cost?

Defensive Driving, which DDS also calls a Driver Improvement Course, is a 6-hour program that teaches drivers about safe driving.

According to DDS, “for license reinstatement, points reduction, or court purposes, clinics must charge $95.”

Will I still get points on my record if I pay my ticket before my court date?

Yes. Paying your ticket before your court date is the same as a guilty plea. The record of your ticket will be sent to DDS and DDS will assess points based on their points table. To learn more about the points system, read my article here or click the button below.

Are traffic tickets criminal offenses in Georgia?

Yes, in general, traffic offenses are considered criminal offenses in Georgia. Most are misdemeanors, although there are some that are considered felonies.

I’m under 21 years old. Are the rules different for me? How many points does it take to suspend my license if I’m under 21 years old?

Drivers under 21 are subject to special rules. Essentially, if you are convicted of any one 4-point offense, your license will be suspended if you are under 21 years old. Some examples include Reckless Driving, Hit and Run, and Racing.


Read more here, or click the button below.

I’m under 18 years old. Are the rules different for me? How many points does it take to suspend my license if I’m under 21 years old?

Drivers under 18 are subject to even stricter rules than drivers under 21. For under 18 drivers, accumulating 4 or more points in a 12-month period will result in a suspended license. Most traffic offenses are 3-point offenses, so two infractions can easily result in a suspension.

Pleading nolo contendre (or no contest) will not prevent a suspension.

Read more here, or click the button below.

How many points is a speeding ticket in Georgia?

It depends on how far over the speed limit you are charged with driving.

SpeedPoints
1 to 14 mph over the speed limit0 points
15 to 18 mph over the speed limit2 points
19 to 23 mph over the speed limit3 points
24 to 33 mph over the speed limit4 points
34+ mph over the speed limit6 points

Read more about speeding charges in my article here, or click the button below.

DUI Cases

What is Implied Consent in a Georgia DUI Case?

Georgia’s Implied Consent law “requires [a person] to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances” in order to determine if [he or she is] DUI. The Implied Consent Warning, which officers must read to an individual being arrested for DUI, warns drivers of this requirement. An officer’s failure to properly read the Implied Consent warning can result in dismissal of a DUI case.

Read everything you need to know about Implied Consent here, or click the button below.

What is Standardized Field Sobriety Testing?

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs, are a barrage of tests that officers conduct in determining whether probable cause exists to arrest a person for DUI. They consist of:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test,
  • The Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN) Test,
  • The Walk and Turn Test, and
  • The One-Leg Stand Test.


Read more here (or click the button below) about each test and how it works, and how (and why!) a skilled Georgia DUI defense attorney examines the SFST evidence in your case.

What is DUI Less Safe in Georgia?

Georgia’s DUI law has several parts. One is the “Less Safe” subsection. This subsection states:


“A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.” 


The State frequently charges people with DUI Less Safe in 3 situations:


  • The driver refused to submit to the state-administered chemical test,
  • The test results are unusable for some reason, or
  • The test results have been suppressed from evidence. 


Click here or hit the button below to learn more about DUI Less Safe, how it is different from DUI Per Se, and read some examples of what courts have considered DUI Less Safe in the past.

How many drinks will put me over the legal limit in Georgia? Can one beer put me over the limit?

The short answer is that “it depends.” The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08%. A blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% means that there is 0.08 grams of alcohol in every 100 milliliters of blood.

The reason that there is no clear answer to this question is that every person’s body is different. Different factors can affect how a person metabolizes alcohol – body fat percentage, weight, speed of consumption, and medical conditions, for example.

Want to learn more? Read my blog post on the science of blood alcohol concentration here, or click the button below.

What are my rights if I’m stopped at a DUI checkpoint?

You do not have to answer any questions. I typically recommend that my clients politely decline to answer any questions asked of them by the police, because the police can use your words and your manner of speaking against you. For example, the police routinely write in their police reports that a person was “belligerent” or if they had “slurred speech.”


You are not required to participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Whether or not the police inform you that these tests are voluntary, you legally cannot be compelled to perform them. Most attorneys who practice DUI law will tell you that these tests are difficult to pass even for a person who is not under the influence, and that they were designed that way. It is generally safer to decline to take them (again, politely).


You should not consent to any searches of your vehicle. While in certain circumstances the police can search your vehicle even without your consent, it is much more difficult to challenge the legality of a search in court if you give the police your permission to search.

For more information, read my post about DUI Roadblocks / Vehicle Safety Checkpoints here, or click the button below.

What is DUI Court in Georgia? What do I need to know before I commit to participation in a DUI Court?

DUI Courts “are designed to deal with the underlying issue of alcohol abuse resulting from operation of a vehicle while impaired.” They are programs designed for repeat offenders, and provide treatment and support while a person deals with any issues they have that may have led to their DUI charges. While all of this sounds great in theory, you should also know that they are a massive commitment, both for you and for your family.

On average, Georgia DUI Court Programs take 13 months to complete. They require participants to attend frequent counseling sessions (group and individual), substance abuse treatment (such as AA or NA), and court sessions. They also require random drug or alcohol testing and payment of program fees.

To be sure, DUI Court can be a good option for some people, but they definitely aren’t for everyone. Learn more about how they work, who is eligible, and what kind of commitment they are here, or click the button below.

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