Beginning in the early 1990s, the aggravated assault arrest rate began dropping nationwide. Then, the arrest rate leveled off in the early 2010s. Coronavirus lockdowns in 2020 accelerated a trend of rising assault arrest rates in Marietta, GA. Lots of people felt lots of pressure in 2020, and normal outlets, like the corner bar, were unavailable. Therefore, many people took out their frustrations in more inappropriate ways. Based on the statistics, it looks like many people are having a hard time breaking this bad habit.
Assault at any level has a number of direct and indirect consequences. Lengthy and restrictive court supervision is the norm in these cases. Incarceration is common as well. Many judges and jurors believe these individuals should be removed from society. The indirect consequences are steep as well. They usually include future employment, family law, and immigration problems.
Because of all these effects, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer needs a plan right from the start. As outlined below, this plan starts with quickly understanding the legal environment. Then, once the defendant is out of jail, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer can do what criminal defense lawyers do best, which is criminal defense.
Kinds of Assault
Many offenses have different degrees. Murder is a good example. There’s first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and so on. Assault has degrees as well, but the degrees of assault are separate offenses, as follows:
- ABC: Assault by Contact is common-law battery, which is a harmful or offensive touch. Pushing someone else to get to the front of the line is ABC. Prosecutors often press these charges if they want a defendant to go through the system but don’t have anything else to go on.
- Ordinary Assault: This offense is usually a barfight or domestic violence. Ordinary assault, unlike ABC, requires a physical injury. That injury could be as slight as a small bruise or red spot on the skin. The worse the injury is, the easier it is to prove intent, which is another component of both ABC and ordinary assault.
- Aggravated Assault: Similarly, AA is appropriate if the defendant caused a serious injury or used a weapon. Basically, a serious injury is anything that sends an alleged victim to the Emergency Room, like a broken bone or serious blow to the head. Almost anything, like a frying pan or golf club, could be a weapon, depending on the way the defendant used it.
Normally, prosecutors press the most aggressive charges possible under the facts. That’s the best way, and usually the only way, for prosecutors to move up the corporate ladder.
Over-aggressive charges are usually the first part of a Marietta criminal defense lawyer’s plan. If a lawyer convinces prosecutors to reduce charges one level, which normally isn’t hard to do, it’s much easier to successfully resolve the matter.
These charge reductions are steep. Aggravated assault is a felony, ordinary assault is an ordinary misdemeanor, and ABC is basically a traffic ticket. So, a lesser charge means a much lower maximum punishment. It’s a lot easier to finish the race well if you have a good place on the starting line.
The presumption of innocence is another important part of the plan. But if the defendant is behind bars, that presumption of innocence usually becomes a presumption of guilt.
Incarceration often causes a brain injury. Many people know someone who underwent a personality change behind bars. More importantly for the purposes of this blog, this brain injury also clouds judgment. Many incarcerated defendants are more than willing to accept unfavorable plea bargain offers, since they cannot accurately think things through.
Additionally, the best attorney-client relationships are partnerships. Incarcerated defendants cannot meaningfully contribute to their own defenses. So, what should be a duet becomes a solo act.
In an assault case, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer needs every possible edge. Fortunately, several types of pretrial release are available in Cobb County, as follows:
- Pretrial Release: By the book, violent offenders are usually ineligible for OR (own recognizance) release. However, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer sometimes convinces pretrial release boards to suspend the rules.
- Bail Bond: This option is the most available and affordable one. Judges very rarely require cash bond, except in extreme circumstances. Furthermore, most bonding companies only charge about 10 or 15 percent of the cash bond amount.
- Cash Bail: If defendants have the money, cash bail is usually the best option. The aforementioned bail bond premium is nonrefundable, but cash bail, which is like a security deposit, is normally refundable.
If bail is too high or unavailable, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer can change those things at a bail reduction hearing.
Assault calls almost always involve interrogations. Before they make an arrest, officers usually determine which party started it.
Officers rarely inform defendants of their Miranda rights before they start these impromptu investigations. As a result, any evidence they obtain during that interrogation, like a confession, is normally inadmissible in court.
The Supreme Court added a big “if” to this equation in 2010’s Berghuis v. Thompkins. The Supremes ruled that unless defendants affirmatively invoke their constitutional rights, they waive them.
Officers must interrogate suspects not only to determine who started it, but to gather evidence. They usually didn’t witness the assault. Therefore, the alleged victim’s testimony, along with a minor injury, is generally the only evidence.
Right at the start, prosecutors are behind the eight-ball. This circumstantial evidence often isn’t enough to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.
Many alleged victims are biased. They have an ongoing family law or other civil case against the defendant. Other alleged victims simply aren’t credible. Perhaps they were drinking at the time, or perhaps they told different versions of the same story to different people.
Unlike police officers, alleged assault victims aren’t professional witnesses. Therefore, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer can easily rattle them during cross examination. The trick is to rattle the witness without humiliating the witness and angering jurors. That’s a very fine line.
Assault charges don’t always hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.