It was a dream come true or a nightmare turned real when the former president posed for a mug shot after he surrendered himself to Fulton County authorities.
Trump declared his innocence and claimed that he was the victim of “election interference” after being arrested and booked in Georgia on his latest batch of criminal charges. “I did nothing wrong,” asserted Trump, who slammed the case as a “travesty of justice.”
The Fulton County Sherriff’s Office said that “Added security will remain in place at the Fulton County Jail. Officers will also continue to ensure a safe space for protestor’s.” However, “anyone who breaks the law will be arrested and face appropriate consequences,” the statement added.
The law is the same for everyone, at least theoretically. The criminal investigation process sometimes takes a few minutes, as is the case with most DUI matters. Other times, the investigation process lasts several years, as was the case with the racketeering, fraud, and other charges now pending against Trump and his allies.
Prosecutors need probable cause to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant or convince a grand jury to issue an indictment. This standard of evidence is rather low. In 2015, an Iowa federal judge ruled that police had probable cause to pull over a motorist for traveling 1mph over the speed limit, even though officers knew 1mph was within the RADAR gun’s margin of error and the charges wouldn’t hold up in court.
When people are charged with nonviolent crimes and voluntarily surrender, they often boo in and book out, much like Trump did. That’s especially true if a Marietta criminal defense attorney makes appropriate arrangements.
Violent offenders usually go to jail, and unless they make bail, they stay there until the case is resolved. Initially, bail amount usually depends on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. Based on these factors, Trump’s $200,000 bail was probably too high. But that’s the subject of another blog.
Immediate jail release is vital in violent and nonviolent offenses. Most people assume incarcerated individuals, even if that incarceration is based only on probable cause, did something wrong. So, extended detention could rob a Marietta criminal defense attorney of the best defensive weapon in these cases, which is the presumption of innocence.
Case Evaluation and Investigation
Furthermore, if the defendant is behind bars, an attorney cannot effectively evaluate a case and investigate it. Attorneys only have limited contact with incarcerated clients. Furthermore, and understandably, defendants behind bars are anxious to end things.
Attorneys look for procedural defenses during case evaluations. Fourt Amendment search and seizure issues are a good example. Let’s go back to the DUI case. Assume officers arrested Julio at a DUI roadblock. According to the report, officers didn’t deploy traffic cones, lights, signs, or other such items. They just pulled people over. Such a checkpoint violates the requirements in Michigan Department of State Police vs Sitz, and the checkpoint was therefore illegal.
Procedural errors usually derail criminal cases. If officers make a procedural mistake, no one can go back in time and fix it.
Investigations often lead to substantive defenses. Assume Julio blew into a Breathalyzer and his lawyer discovers the gadget wasn’t properly calibrated. If a Marietta criminal defense lawyer invalidates the chemical sample, prosecutors must rely on weak circumstantial evidence, and the average conviction rate plummets.
Substantive defenses reduce the state’s ability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A strong substantive defense gives a Marietta criminal defense lawyer an edge during plea negotiations. More on that below.
We reviewed procedural defenses above. Usually, but not always, a judge rules on such matters during a pretrial hearing.
Most judges use legal precedents, like the aforementioned Sitz case, to decide such matters. Sitz is a United States Supreme Court case that all state and federal judges must follow. Georgia state appeals court and Supreme Court cases are usually binding on Georgia jurists, as are cases from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of appeals, an area that includes Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
Attorneys may also rely on cases from other U.S. jurisdictions. But these decisions aren’t binding. Judges are free to accept or disregard them.
Pretrial proceedings may also include ancillary proceedings, like drivers’ license suspension in a DUI and a protective order in an assault.
An Administrative Law Judge may suspend a driver’s license if the motorist refused a lawful request to provide a chemical sample, or if that sample tested above the legal alcohol limit. A hardship drivers’ license may be available in these cases. The ALR hearing doubles as an evidence hearing. If a witness, like a police officer, later contradicts his/her ALR hearing testimony, this inconsistency is admissible in criminal court.
Along similar lines, a judge may issue a family violence or stalking protective order. Protective orders have significant indirect consequences, mostly in family court. To avoid such consequences, a Marietta criminal defense lawyer often engineers a consent decree plea bargain. A consent decree has the same effect as a protective order but none of its collateral consequences.
Most Constitutional protections don’t apply in ancillary hearings, as these proceedings technically aren’t criminal matters.
Disposition and Post-Disposition Matters
Back to the criminal case itself. Over 90 percent of criminal cases settle out of court. Most plea bargain agreements feature a reduced sentence and/or reduced charges. Many nonviolent or first-time offenders are eligible for pretrial diversion, which is basically pre-conviction probation that doesn’t include a criminal conviction.
Georgia’s probation laws are quite harsh. Lengthy and highly restrictive probation is the norm in the Peach State. Therefore, Marietta criminal defense attorneys handle many probation violation matters and early discharge requests.
Subsequent rearrest is the most common probation violation. Others include failure to report to a probation officer and possessing a prohibited item. Judges usually have considerable discretion in these cases. They can give defendants a “go forth and sin no more” warning or sentence them to jail or prison.
Judges have similar discretion in probation modification or discharge matters. In Georgia, the sentencing judge can ease the conditions or end probation at almost any time. The opposite is also true. If defendants don’t toe the line, harsher conditions and/or longer probation usually comes their way.
Knowing what to expect in a criminal case takes much of the stress out of a stressful situation. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.