Authorities say a 28-year-old Richland man, who is wanted on aggravated assault charges, is on the run, armed, and dangerous.
On November 9, 2022, 911 received a call regarding a shots fired incident in the 100 block of Church Street in Richland, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, 911 received another call indicating a victim was shot and emergency services were requested. Authorities immediately zeroed in on a suspect.
No other details were available.
Judges only issue arrest warrants if officers present affidavits that show probable cause, a rather nebulous concept which comes from an obscure 1964 Supreme Court case, Beck vs. Ohio.
Acting on unspecified “reports” and “information,” officers stopped Beck on the street. They searched his car and found nothing. Undeterred, officers hauled Beck to the stationhouse, where after a more thorough search, they found illegal betting slips under his sock.
Two lower courts upheld Beck’s conviction. The Supremes disagreed, observing that the “record in this case does not contain a single objective fact to support a belief by the officers that the petitioner was engaged in criminal activity at the time they arrested him.” If a reliable informant provided the reports that lead to Beck’s arrest, which was probably what the lower courts assumed, prosecutors needed to show more “specificity” before they used that information in court, according to Justice Potter Stewart.
The above story gives no details about the probable cause investigation which lead to the arrest warrants. Most likely, investigators began with almost nothing. Most people don’t fire shots and then hang around until emergency responders arrive. Instead, most likely, officers relied on eyewitness reports. A Marietta criminal defense lawyer can often successfully challenge such investigations.
Live and photograph lineups are only reliable if they are double blind. Neither the administering officer nor the witness should know the suspect’s identity. If the administering officer knows, this officer often gives subtle clues to witnesses, such as placing the suspect in the center of a live lineup or taking more time to show the witness a certain photo. Despite the mountain of evidence, most departments only use blind lineups. The witness is in the dark, and in most cases, the officer subtly directs the witness to choose a certain suspect.
On a related note, the instructions matter. A little directive like “the person who did this may or may not be in this lineup” takes the pressure off a witness to identify someone.
Sometimes, officers take the long way. These more time-consuming investigations are often harder for a Marietta criminal defense lawyer to overturn.
A witness or victim usually triggers the investigation. Then, instead of going straight to a judge, officers take more time and gather more evidence. For example, if the suspect is on probation or parole, officers can probably detain the suspect or search his/her house based on reasonable suspicion or reasonable grounds. That’s a much lower standard of proof which doesn’t require a judicial warrant.
There’s an important difference between an arrest warrant and a criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations applies to criminal prosecutions. Usually, unless authorities file legal paperwork before the SOL expires, the prosecution is invalid. However, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply to arrest warrants. They don’t go away after a certain number of years. Once a judge issues an arrest warrant, it’s valid until a law enforcement officer serves it. That period of time could be a few weeks or a few decades.
We don’t deal with serious felony warrants, like aggravated assault warrants, very often. Generally, our Marietta criminal defense attorneys deal with traffic warrants and other such matters. These violations may not be as serious. But when officers serve warrants, all defendants go to the same jail.
Traffic ticket warrants are usually FTA (failure to appear) warrants. A defendant got a ticket, missed a court date or other deadline for some reason, and a judge issued a warrant. Usually, a lawyer goes to the courthouse, lifts the warrant, and places the matter back on the court’s docket. Many of the warrants that we handle are at least three or four years old. The police officer turnover rate is quite high. Therefore, there’s a good chance that the officer has left the force. If there’s no witness, there’s no case.
Serious crime warrants are different. We generally tell people to turn themselves in, preferable in the middle of the week in the middle of the day, when jails aren’t as busy. We also advise people to have all their ducks in a row, in terms of jail release. That way, the book-in process is little more than filing paperwork.
If the defendant is out of town, that’s tricky, but often in a good way. If a defendant is arrested in another county or state, Cobb County, or whatever county issued the warrant, must usually pay all transportation costs. Since prosecutors want to save the county money whenever possible, they’re usually willing to cut deals then and there. If the case goes away, the judge dissolves the warrant.
Speaking of deals with prosecutors, aggravated assault cases exemplify how these plea bargain deals work, at least in many cases.
The process starts with a procedural, substantive, or affirmative defense. Almost all criminal cases have at least one defense.
Procedural defenses often involve the aforementioned probable cause and search warrant issues. Fifth Amendment concerns may come into play as well. Defendants have the right to remain silent during investigations. That includes the right to physical silence, such as trying on clothes or posing for pictures. If officers don’t promptly and properly inform defendants of their rights, any evidence may be tainted.
A substantive defense basically means a lack of evidence, or more specifically, a lack of credible evidence. For example, in an aggravated assault case, the key witness is usually the alleged victim. These individuals usually aren’t professional witnesses. Often, they get important details mixed up, which diminishes their credibility. Or they may simply not come across well to a jury, perhaps because they have checkered pasts.
As for affirmative defenses, aggravated assault is a specific intent crime. The defendant must intend the conduct (hitting the victim) and the result (seriously injuring the alleged victim). Legally, intoxicated people don’t have the state of mind to commit specific intent crimes. Other affirmative defenses may be available as well, such as self-defense.
If a defense might possibly hold up in court, prosecutors are willing to talk turkey. Frequently, this deal includes a plea to a lesser-included offense, such as simple assault, which is a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Criminal investigations have lots of moving parts. 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.