Few details were available after multiple shooting incidents sent multiple people to an area hospital.
The shooting happened just before 7 a.m. When officers arrived on the scene a woman with a gunshot wound was at a neighbor’s apartment. She told officers a man shot her and that he was still inside her apartment.
Just after 8:30 a.m. they used a drone to fly inside the apartment and found the man had what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Both the man and the woman have been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Apartment Shootings in Criminal and Civil Court
In a nutshell, criminal courts hold individuals legally responsible for the criminal acts they commit. Civil courts hold apartment owners legally responsible for the criminal acts they allow.
Depending on the facts, as well as the available evidence, the state could bring one of several charges in an apartment shooting case:
- Aggravated Assault: Generally, aggravated assault, which is a felony, is an assault against a person in a protected class, like a police officer, an assault that led to serious injury, or an assault that involved the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon.
- Attempted Murder: Georgia’s attempted murder statute usually only applies if the alleged victim was a witness in a criminal case or a public servant. The general attempt statute applies if the defendant had the required intent, and the defendant took a substantial step toward committing a crime. Shooting a gun is obviously a substantial step.
Courts broadly interpret O.C.G.A. §16-4-1, the general attempt statute. For example, one court held that possession of a meth ingredient shopping list that included tips on how to avoid scrutiny was attempted manufacture of methamphetamines.
Usually, prosecutors bring the most aggressive charges the facts could possibly support. Because they stretch, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer often convinces, or forces, prosecutors to reduce the charges.
Assume Mike tells investigators that he hated Ike and therefore shot him. Those facts could support an attempted murder charge. But if officers didn’t properly Mirandize Mike, a judge could say his statement is inadmissible. That ruling would force prosecutors to reduce the charges.
The world’s greatest stage actors cannot do their thing unless stagehands create the proper environment. Likewise, the state’s worst evildoers cannot hurt anyone unless a property owner creates the proper environment. Stagehands intentionally create these environments, and property owners negligently create them. Georgia negligence claims gave four basic elements:
- Duty: Generally, owners have a duty of reasonable care. This duty, which is roughly based on the story of the Good Samaritan, requires property owners to go out of their way to create safe environments. This responsibility includes installing and maintaining an adequate security system.
- Breach: Owners violate their duty of care if they know about, or should know about, a security defect. That issue could be a burned-out light, broken gate, nonworking camera, or other such defect. The breach could also be an inadequate security level. Apartment complexes in rough neighborhoods usually require live security guards.
- Cause: The assailant, not the owner, caused injury. So, in this context, cause usually means foreseeability (possibility) of injury. We mentioned one factor, a rough neighborhood, above. Others include prior similar incidents at that location and prior similar nearby incidents.
- Damages: Negligent security victims are usually entitled to compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Usually, a Marietta personal injury lawyer must file a legal action against an out-of-state holding company that legally owns the apartment complex.
Evidence in Criminal and Civil Court
Criminal and civil courts have different purposes. Attorneys also have different tasks in these two different forums. A Marietta criminal defense lawyer must disprove guilt, and a Marietta personal injury lawyer must prove negligence.
The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond all reasonable doubt. That’s a pretty subjective standard, but usually, prosecutors must have a voluntary confession or an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence.
We mentioned procedural issues in voluntary statements above. Other procedural defenses, like search and seizure issues, also reduce the amount of evidence prosecutors can use in court.
Frequently, the remaining evidence isn’t credible enough to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Witness testimony in assault cases is a good example. Over the course of a criminal case, an alleged victim might tell the same story five or six times. The slightest inconsistency affects the alleged victim’s credibility. Furthermore, if the alleged victim was drinking at the time of the assault, which is quite common, that person’s recall is already suspect.
In contrast, a Marietta personal injury lawyer must only prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). If that blindfolded lady’s scales of justice tip even slightly in favor of the victim/plaintiff, that’s a preponderance of the evidence. If Bill and Ted argued, it’s more likely than not that Bill shot Ted, even if there’s no evidence of a shooting.
Evidence in a negligence case usually includes the police report, witness statements, and medical bills. Sometimes, an attorney uses expert witness testimony to bolster this evidence. For example, an independent doctor might examine medical bills and testify about the probable need for future medical procedures.
Resolving Criminal and Civil Cases
Criminal and civil courts have different purposes and procedures, but attorneys resolve criminal and civil cases the same way. Over 90 percent of these matters settle out of court.
These resolutions rub many clients the wrong way. They believe that “settling” basically means “surrendering.” Unfortunately, a few criminal and civil attorneys settle cases quickly because they want an easy way out.
But for the most part, these resolutions benefit clients. Out-of-court settlements reduce legal fees, end the case sooner, and give defendants, and victims, more control over the outcome.
Furthermore, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Thelma could walk free after an aggravated assault trial and Louise could win $100,000 at a personal injury trial. But trials are very risky. Thelma could go to jail and Louise could get nothing. So, Thelma should probably accept a plea to simple assault and Louise should probably accept a $70,000 settlement offer.
Apartment, restaurant, and other shootings in public places have consequences in civil and criminal 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.