Yes, hot weather increases the crime rate, according to the heat hypothesis. That’s especially true in early summer, like before National Be a Dork Day, which is July 15. In mid and late summer, the hot weather-assault trend diminishes. It’s simply too hot to get in a fight with anyone. The heat hypothesis especially affects spontaneous combustion assaults, like postgame scuffles, domestic battery, and bar fights.
These kinds of assaults dominate the criminal court dockets in Cobb County and elsewhere. Most local law enforcement offices have mandatory arrest policies in assault cases, especially domestic violence. Therefore, if officers respond to a disturbance call and determine that an assault happened, someone immediately goes to jail. Officers must determine the aggressor’s identity. The aggressor could be the person who started the fight, or it could be the person who threw the biggest punch. The legal standard is different.
The major assault crimes in Georgia, which are discussed below, have a lot of moving parts. Therefore, prosecutors often have a hard time making these charges stick in court. Additionally, many assault cases take many months to wind through the system. By the time the trial date arrives, pretty much everyone, including an alleged victim, just wants to move on.
If you face assault charges in Georgia, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer has several legal options. Generally, a lawyer can successfully resolve these charges without going to trial. That resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges or a plea to a lesser-included offense.
Jail Release Issues
Prompt jail release is often a key to a successful outcome in these cases. Frequently, the jail term for ordinary assault is less than a week. For people who have already spent a couple of days in jail, another two or three days isn’t a big deal. However, court-appointed Marietta criminal defense lawyers don’t have to inform defendants about the indirect consequences of an assault conviction. These collateral consequences, like issues in future family law cases and immigration problems, often outweigh the direct effects.
Pretrial release usually isn’t available in violent criminal cases. That leaves cash bail or a bail bond. An attorney is an important partner in both areas.
Cash bail is basically a security deposit. If the defendant complies with all release conditions, the county refunds most of the cash bail deposit. So, it’s almost like getting out of jail free. Attorneys can reduce the cash bail amount at a bail reduction hearing to open this option up to more defendants.
Bail bonds are basically insurance policies. If a defendant doesn’t comply with all conditions and a judge forfeits the bail, the bonding company assumes all financial risk. Usually, attorneys can modify bail conditions and reduce the risk of bond forfeiture.
Kinds of Assault
We mentioned three common assault scenarios above. These three scenarios jive with the three most common legal categories of assault in Cobb County.
- Assault by Contact: The classic “pushing and shoving” assault is a Class C misdemeanor in Georgia. This offense is very easy to prove. Prosecutors must only establish that the defendant touched the alleged victim in an intentional (non-accidental) manner that was harmful or offensive. An ABC conviction has roughly the same weight as a traffic ticket conviction. So, there are few collateral consequences.
- Ordinary Assault: Almost all domestic battery cases are misdemeanor assault cases. The state must prove the defendant injured the alleged victim. That injury could be something very minor, like a scrape or a red mark. However, the lesser the injury, the harder it is to prove intent. More on lack of evidence defenses below.
- Aggravated Assault: In the classic bar fight, someone ends up on the floor and/or someone uses a weapon, like a beer bottle, a pool cue, or an oversize knife. Either one could be felony assault in Georgia. The state could also press aggravated assault charges if the alleged victim was a police officer or other protected class member, even if the assault itself was an ABC affair.
Cobb County prosecutors are very aggressive in this area. They often go the next level up. For example, if a husband/wife fight merits ABC charges, the state presses ordinary assault charges. Therefore, a Marietta criminal defense attorney can usually negotiate a charge reduction plea bargain.
Resentencing hearings, early discharge hearings, and executive pardons are the most common post-conviction matters in assault cases.
As part of a plea bargain agreement, many assault defendants receive deferred disposition. In most ways, deferred disposition probation is like regular probation. Defendants must report to probation officers, obey keep-away orders, and jump through all the other hoops. However, if the defendant successfully complete probation, the judge dismisses the case. So, the defendant has no criminal conviction, at least for most purposes.
There’s a difference between successful completion and perfect completion. Many defendants finish probation with a few blemishes on their records. That’s especially true in aggravated assault cases, since the period of probation is usually longer. A Marietta criminal defense attorney advocates for defendants at resentencing hearings and helps them obtain the relief they need.
For federal immigration purposes, deferred adjudication has the same effect as a conviction. That’s the biggest exception to this rule.
Judges have considerable discretion to grant or deny resentencing requests. Judges also have a lot of discretion in terms of granting early probation discharge requests. Under Georgia law, premature termination is available if early discharge is in “the best interests of justice and the welfare of society.” Theoretically, a judge could sentence a defendant to probation on the 1st and discharge that probation on the 2nd. As a rule of thumb, however, most judges want most defendants to complete at least half the term before they ask for early discharge.
Executive pardon in an assault case might seem like a long shot, and quite frankly, it is a long shot. But Georgia governors grant about 5 percent of the pardon requests they receive. If an attorney makes the right pitch at the right time in the right way, there’s a good chance the governor will at least consider the request. The reward of a pardon is so great that the minimal risk is usually worthwhile.
Permanent assault convictions don’t always follow assault charges. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Marietta, contact the Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.