An officer stopped Kevin A. Williams for speeding and subsequently determined that he was unable to drive in the state of Georgia. The officer cited him for driving without a license, and Mr. Williams elected to argue the ticket in DeKalb County’s former Recorder’s Court. The court fined him, sentenced him to jail and probation.
During the trial, the State applied O.C.G.A. § 40-5-20 in charging Mr. Williams, although the State was trying to show that he had lost his driving privileges in Georgia, a violation governed by O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121. At some point, the State changed the argument to one regarding Mr. Williams’ residency.
The trial court’s assessment and the State’s performance led the Court of Appeals to determine that they treated Mr. Williams unfairly in several areas. The Court showed that the trial court neglected to explain to the defendant the difficulties in representing himself, and if he had an attorney, then the attorney would have known to object to the hearsay evidence presented by the State, along with the issues mentioned previously. The Appeals Court concluded that the trial court convicted Mr. Williams of a “crime with which he was not charged, jailed, fined over $600 and sentenced to a year of probation” because of the State’s actions in the case.