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Felony Charges

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Decatur Lawyers

As many people may already know, felonies are typically categorized as the serious criminal offences, in comparison to misdemeanors. If a defendant is found guilty of a felony they have been accused of the punishment is a minimum one-year in prison, which means not a county or local jail. Much like bonds, when you are charged with felonies you are also obligated to pay fines for your actions in most criminal cases, which can result in high amounts.

Serious types of felonies include but are not limited to murder, attempted murder, escaping from prison, assisting in the act of a felony, arson, and rape. There are several other crimes that are also considered felonies and you should learn these to ensure you avoid acting these crimes out.

You may also be familiar with the term “misdemeanor” but have never understood its difference from a felony. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies and are often resolved by paying off fines, attending classes as a form of rehabilitation, or jail time as opposed to prison time. It is easy to depict what type of crime was committed based on time served or given. There are certain factors that could escalate a misdemeanor to a felony. Crimes that typical remain misdemeanors are vandalism, trespassing and theft, amongst a few others. In the event that there is the use if a deadly weapon during the commission of a misdemeanor, there is now room to escalate the charge. If there was a theft committed at a small convenience store, this is a misdemeanor. However, if this theft involved the use of a deadly weapon such as a pocketknife it then becomes an aggravated crime, aggravated theft. When this occurs, there is a possibility of more felony related punishments and conditions such as longer jail time or larger fines to pay.

Without the knowledge it is difficulty to understand the trouble you potentially face when committed a crime. Felonies are misdemeanors are very different but share several similarities that would advice an attorney to ensure you are not taken advantage of in the courtroom. Skilled Decatur lawyers at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. will be able to educate you of your rights as they pertain to your state and area, as well as possibly defend you if you are brought in front of a judge. If you or a loved has been charged with a felony, speak with an attorney sooner than later so that you all may receive the best options available to you.

How a Trial Goes

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Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta, GA

Ok, so you have been accused of a crime you may or may not have committed and pleading guilty is the furthest thing away from your mind at this time. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully accused or if you do not want to plead guilty, you will be taking your case to trial. When you are not an attorney, the courtroom may not be your favorite place. However, it is important to know what goes on in trial so that you are well aware of the process you have signed up for.

While you cannot always determine the time-span of your trial, there are certain steps that will allow you to know how close you are to the end. There are six practical steps in a trial:

  1. Jury selection
  2. Opening Statements by Defense and Prosecution
  3. Witness Testimony
  4. The Closing Arguments
  5. Jury Instructions Are Given
  6. Jury Discussion and Verdict Announcement

Jury Selection:

Several of people in the community are asked to appear in court for “Jury Duty”. This is when a few people are interviewed and asked very precise questions by the defense and prosecution. The defense is due a fair trial so the extensive interviews are to pick out those that may be prejudice or are in no way fit to sit as a juror.

Opening Statements by Defense and Prosecution

At this time, the legal counsel of both involved parties summarize their version of the facts of the case as to explain to the jury the direction of the case and what exactly has gone on.

Witness Testimony

Witnesses are cross-examined by opposing counsel. This is designed to allow the opposing side to ask you questions that will somehow benefit their argument or discredit the other parties’ argument. This does not mean that the witness is guilty, but that there is some information that the witness provides that will change or confirm the facts of the case.

Closing Arguments

Once all of the evidence is presented, and all reasonable questions are asked and answered by the witnesses, the closing argument gives the defense and the prosecution the time to sum up the case. Both sides will then take what occurred in the trial, and their opening statement and in a sense plead their case for the last time.

Jury Instructions Are Given

This is when the judge explains to the jury what it is they must do with the information that they have gathered. There are legal guidelines that must be followed and this is the time the jury is informed of what they are.

Jury Decision

There is no say exactly how long this part may take; in some cases the evidence is so clear it takes a short time for a jury to make a final decision or verdict. In other cases it can take days.

This is not something that you will want to go through alone. No matter your charge, be sure to speak with a courtroom experienced criminal defense attorney Atlanta, GA relies on at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. that understands how a trial works, and will be able to fight for you while you go through it.

Witness Testimony

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Decatur Attorneys

Throughout the process of a trial, witness statements are the most important and longest part of the time spent in court, of course other than the jury deliberation towards the end. A witness testimony is a piece of evidence by an involved (to some degree) party in a case. Normally, both legal counsel parties will ask the witness questions, and based on the oath taken prior to speaking it is believed that the information given by the witness is the truth. You are not also obligated to speak in a courtroom if you decide, or are called to be a witness; they can also be written and submitted into evidence. If you lie under oath while giving your witness statement this is considered perjury, the information you provide as a witness is looked at as hardcore fact and can be the largest deciding factor in a criminal case so it is imperative that the information provided by you is accurate and correct.

If you have decided to provide a witness statement or are called as a witness in a case, be sure to replay the facts of the incident you have been called to testify about. When your memory is refreshed you are able to give clear and concise details. Attorneys will ask questions that may confuse you; they will even try to manipulate you into saying things that benefit their argument. So it is important to listen carefully to the questions asked of you, they may be asked several ways and several times so you must be sure to have understood what you have answered and that you know what you are talking about.

While this may be your first time as a witness, and testifying in court, always remember to be as truthful as possible and calm your nerves. If you are not asked a question, do not volunteer information. Do not lie under oath, or share your testimony with anyone once you are done. It is wise to speak with an attorney that has experience in the courtroom or cross-examining witnesses. This way, if you are faced with the task of becoming a witness in a case, you know how to testify in court the right way. The skilled Decatur attorneys at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. will be able to prepare you for the pressures of the courtroom, and also help you practice giving a testimony by questioning you the way opposing counsel may question you in court. You are not obligated to go through this alone.

What constitutes a ‘legal’ search by the police?

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Decatur Lawyer

The Fourth Amendment defends civilians against irrational search and seizures. So, it is vital to understand what a reasonable search and seizure is and when these actually begin when police are involved. While it is the police officer’s duty to search property or seize any possessions connected to a crime, there are also laws in places that protect the privacy of people against any illegal searches and seizures.

Expectation of privacy and reasonable expectation of such are the main focuses when regarding a legal search. If you or your property is searched by the police while you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. The police must show that a crime has likely happened in order to prove that a search was indeed reasonable and legal, and the search will likely lead to evidence or a crime of some sort.

There are conditions that grant law enforcement the capability to search and seize property:

  • Police often retain search warrants to gain the ability to search and seize property with or without the person’s consent. A search warrant is a court order issued by a judge and authorizes law enforcement to search and confiscate any evidence they discover with the consent of the occupant/owner of said property.
  • While you are not entirely obligated to grant their request, if you have given the police consent to search your property they are then allowed to do so. If they discover anything that may connect to a crime, they are then permitted to seize it and submit it into evidence, and it some cases it may lead to an arrest.
  • If the cops have reason to believe that their own safety, or the safety of others, is in jeopardy the premises will be searched.

Law enforcement has several legal alternatives and somehow still find ways to conduct a search and seize illegally. Due to the exclusionary rule, when a search and seizure happens unlawfully, any evidence that is found through this irrational or illegal search, may not be used against you should you appear in court. Neither can the police use the evidence found in an illegal search and seizure to discover any other evidence. If you or a loved one has been subjected to any illegal searches and seizures, please be sure to speak with a skilled Decatur lawyer at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. that will be able to inform you of your rights and ensure justice is served in court.

What you need to know about manslaughter

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Decatur Attorneys       

Webster defines “Manslaughter” as the unlawful killing of a human being without express or implied malice premeditation—this would mean someone was killed with ill intent. In comparison to first or second-degree murder, manslaughter would involve far less moral blame. This indicates that the kill was likely an accident or not aforethought. Manslaughter typically does not get punishment as great as murder does, despite the seriousness of the crime. Experienced Decatur attorneys at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. can explain all of this to you in detail.

There is voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, which are the two main distinctions of manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is also considered a killing in the “heat of passion”, which typically occurs when an unlikely person is provoked in some way to commit a murder. There is an irresistible impulse of emotion that is sparked in a normally rational person. Like a snap. It is difficult to call it intentional when the emotional context almost justifies the action.

To explain the basic concept of how voluntary manslaughter verdicts are determined, here is an example of a voluntary manslaughter scenario:

A husband or wife comes home in the middle of the day. Unbeknownst to them, their spouse is home. Upon more inspection, they find them in bed committing adultery. In the “heat of the moment”, emotions arise that were in no way premeditated, and things happen. Out of anger, hurt, or shame a life is taken. It is very likely that a judge and/or jury will find this to be a case of voluntary manslaughter based on the basic facts.

Involuntary Manslaughter refers to an unintentional homicide from the commission of a crime or negligence. With the defendant having a clear understanding of their disregard of human life it is reason to be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

To explain the basic concept of how involuntary manslaughter verdicts are determined, here is an example of a voluntary manslaughter scenario:

A couple of friends have a drink or two at a local bar and decide to drive home because it is not that far away. On the way home, the driver loses control of his car and strikes a light post. The passenger is then ejected from the vehicle and dies due to the injuries sustained. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration level was higher than the legal limit. Although he may not have intended to kill his friend, he will be charged for involuntary manslaughter due his negligence. He is well aware that is illegal to drink and drive, he made the decision to do so, and his passenger and friend died because of this negligence.

When concerning an accidental murder, there are two different charges that are on the table: second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Depending on the incident itself, there may be no charges allocated to a suspect. Which leaves a prosecutor to rely on the extent of the negligence that occurred. Accidental second-degree murder is also named as implied malice, abandoned and malignant heart murder, and depraved murder.

Self-Defense

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Decatur Criminal Law Lawyer

Causing another person physical harm by striking, shooting or otherwise injuring that person is considered a criminal act in most jurisdictions and the person who committed the violent act will probably face prosecution under criminal statues in the state in which they live.  However, some states have statues in place that allow for one person to injure or even kill another if they are acting in self-defense.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the defensive action had to be reasonable.  For example, if a small woman threatens to beat up a two-hundred-and fifty-pound muscular man and approaches him with her fists, it would not be reasonable for that man to take out a gun and shoot the woman in the head.  If the man tried to use self-defense to explain his actions, the court would not look favorably upon this and the man would probably lose his case. A Decatur criminal law lawyer will sometimes use the expression “you can’t bring a gun to a fist fight” to help clients understand this concept.  Another way to look at it is, while it may be reasonable to push or strike a person who is attacking you with their fists, it may not be reasonable to shoot that person dead.  However, if that same person has a gun and is shooting at you, you may be authorized by the law to shoot them in self-defense.

The ability to claim or demonstrate fear of imminent injury to one’s self or another is critical to a successful claim of self-defense It’s not just that the person claiming self-defense had a right to be really mad or felt really disrespected, they have to have been in fear of their life or afraid for the life of the person they were defending in order to have a valid claim of self-defense.  One exception to this general rule is people suffering from battered person syndrome who act in self-defense. It cases where a person has been abused over a long period of time, the court may be willing to take into consideration the mindset of a person having suffered years of abuse, even if they were not in danger of losing their life at the moment they lashed out.

It is more difficult to establish a defense of property defense, but some states do recognize that a homeowner has not duty to back down if someone is invading their home.  Again, the actions taken by the property owner must be reasonable. If someone is knocking on your door in broad daylight and you shoot them because you don’t want them on your property, this will generally not be considered legitimate defense of property.  However, if you are asleep in your bed at night and you hear a person breaking into your home, you may be justified in shooting that person.

One goal of claiming self-defense is to ensure that the accused person in not convicted of a crime.  However, some states take it one step further than that and offer immunity from even being prosecuted to people who can show they were acting in self-defense.  Speak to your lawyer at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. about whether your jurisdiction offers the option to have an immunity motion prior to trial. In an immunity motion, the judge listens to evidence of what happened during the incident and makes a ruling of whether the accused person is immune from prosecution because they were acting in self-defense.  If the judge rules that the violent act was an act of self-defense then the prosecution will be barred from pursuing the charges any further.

Polygraph and Psychosexual Evaluation in a Child Molestation Case

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Atlanta Child Molestation Attorney

Being accused of child molestation can be a terrifying thing.  Often, there will be no physical evidence of the alleged events and the case boils down to a swearing contest or “he-said-she-said”.  Suspects or often left wondering, “what can I do to show I did not do this?”. IN cases like these, it is very important to, first, consult with an Atlanta child molestation attorney.  Discuss with your attorney the possibility of doing a polygraph test and a psychosexual evaluation.  

In cases like these it is not unheard of for the defendant to submit to a polygraph test which is also known as a lie detector test.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to a lie detector test. It is a very bad idea to even consider submitting to a lie detector test without the advice of their attorney.  Attorneys know that lie detector tests are rarely admissible in court unless they are bad for the defendant. For that reason, your attorney may want to arrange for a private lie detector test to be administered.  

If the results of that test would, in any way, negatively impact your defense, your attorney can choose not to ever mention the test again and there is no requirement to inform the prosecutor that the test was conducted.  Conversely, if you are able to obtain favorable results on a lie detector test, then your attorney can use the test as leverage during negotiations with the prosecutor and law enforcement. In essence, your attorney could approach law enforcement and say “look, he has already taken and passed a lie detector test and here it.”  

Your attorney can also make sure that you use a tester who is reputable, and not biased in favor of or beholden to law enforcement in any way.  You want a tester who feels absolutely no allegiance to the prosecution over a potential suspect because it may bias the way they administer or interpret the test.  Agreeing to a biased lie detector test with the knowledge of the prosecutor could lead to a false-positive on the polygraph test a have a huge negative impact on your defense.  

Another way to gain leverage in your case may be to consider undergoing s psychosexual evaluation.  A psychosexual evaluation often consists of a battery of personality tests and a one on one meeting with an evaluator to fill out questionnaires and determine if you present any risk factors indicating that you may be a sexual predator.  The goal of voluntarily undergoing a psychosexual evaluation is to achieve test results that show you are the very lowest possible risk to the community and do not show signs of being a sexual offender.

As stated above, an experienced attorney at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. can use his or her connections in the legal community to arrange for you to be evaluated with a reputable provider.  You want to find someone who is fair and unbiased, but also well respected so that any favorable results will not be ignored by the prosecutor in your case. If the test does not go well and the evaluator is of the opinion that you are a threat to the community, discuss this with your lawyer.  It is likely that your lawyer will opt to not use the test and it will never be mentioned as a part of your defense.

Getting Removed from the Sex Offender Registry in Georgia

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Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta, GA

Most states have some form of a sex offender registry.  The registry requires people who are convicted of a sex related crime to undergo monitoring as well as creating restrictions on where people can work and live.  The Georgia sex offender registry is particularly onerous. Although it is considered a lifelong registry there are ways, provided for under Georgia Law, to be removed from the registry.

There are several statutes that govern registry removal in Georgia.  OCGA 42-1-19 (a)(4), OCGA 17-10-6.2(c)(1)(A) thru (c)(1)(F) and OCGA 42-1-19(c)(2)(B) are widely considered the most relevant statutes that govern the court’s decision to remove a person from the registry.  

Answering the following questions, many of which flow directly from considerations deemed important in the Georgia statutes mentioned above, is a good first step in gathering the information you and your attorney will need to review to determine whether you are eligible to be removed from the sex offender registry.

  1. Have you completed all probation for the offense which required registration? Were there ever any allegations that you used a weapon during the offense that lead to registration?
  2. Were there ever any allegations that you used any form of weapon during the offense?
  3. Were there ever any allegations that the alleged victim sustained serious bodily injury, was threatened with injury, or received an injury of any sort?
  4. Was there ever any allegation of a similar incident against you?
  5. Was there ever any allegation that you committed a similar offense against anyone else?
  6. Did the alleged victim suffer any intentional physical harm during the commission of the offense?
  7. Do you have any criminal history other than the charge that caused you to register?
  8. Have you been arrested before or since the offense that caused you to register?
  9. How long has it been since you completed your sentence?
  10. Have you been assigned a risk level by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board?
  11. Was the alleged victim restrained during the commission of the offense?
  12. Was the alleged victim moved from one location to another or transported in any way during the commission of the offense?
  13. What is your level of education?
  14. Are you currently employed?
  15. Where are you currently employed?  
  16. How long have you worked at your current place of employment?
  17. Do you participate in any form of community service?  If yes, please describe?
  18. Are you married?
  19. Do you have any children?

Take some time to answer these questions before meeting with a lawyer to discuss being removed from the sex offender registry.  If you do not have all the documentation needed to answer these questions, make an effort to track down the documents that would allow you to answer these questions such as a copy of your sentencing paperwork, any relevant orders or documentation showing you competed probation, a copy of your indictment and any police or detective’s reports relevant to your case.  

Certain answers to the question above can act as disqualifiers to being removed from the sex offender registry.  However, it is very important that you answer these questions honestly. By working with an criminal defense attorney Atlanta, GA relies on at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. who is experienced in this area of the law you will ensure that you are being given the best possible chance at being removed from the registry.  By answering these basic questions prior to meeting with an attorney, you may find yourself one step closer to your goal of being removed from the sex offender registry.  Even if you are not a good candidate for registry removal at this time, meeting with an attorney can give you a better idea of what, if anything, you could do to increase your chances of successfully being removed.

What Do I Need To Know About Testifying?

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Criminal Defense Attorney

Testifying in court can be a really nerve-wracking situation, and sometimes those nerves can really get in the way of the information that you are trying to provide, as a child pornography lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts knows well. So, if you are going to be called as a witness in a court case, here are some tips about how to handle it:

  1.     Make sure you are well-rested, and that you have eaten something.

While you’ll be sitting down in a chair during your testimony, it’s likely you’ll find being a witness to be an exhausting experience. You need to stay focused full-time while you’re on the witness stand. That’s hard to accomplish if you are running short on sleep.

It’s also important that you eat something before you go on the witness stand. Maintaining focus when you’re hungry is incredibly difficult.

  1.     Dress professionally.

Whether you’re testifying before a judge, or a judge and jury, how you look is going to make nearly as much of an impression as what you say. Dress like a professional, cover tattoos, and remove piercings. Try to appear clean and neatly groomed.

  1.     Pay attention to your body language.

Body language can say a lot. Pay attention to what you are doing. Don’t fidget. Don’t shake. Don’t cross your arms. Try to maintain an open and relaxed posture.

  1.     Tell the truth.

Your most important job as a witness is to tell the truth. Don’t worry about advancing an agenda. If you do, you will lose all credibility. Simply answer the questions posed to you truthfully.

  1.     Don’t fight with the lawyer.

Do not fight with the lawyer who is questioning you. They do this for a living. No matter how good you are, fighting with them will make them look good and you look bad. Be polite, and simply answer the questions that they ask of you truthfully. This is about answering their questions, telling the truth, and providing information. It’s not about winning. If you make it about winning, you’ll lose.

  1.     Don’t answer questions that aren’t asked.

Some witnesses get so stuck on what they want to say, they can’t wait for the lawyers to ask them the right question. So, they say what they want to say in a very non-responsive way. For example, if you’re asked, “Was the car blue?” don’t say, “It ran the red light.” Respond to the question you are asked. If the lawyers need to know whether the car ran the red light, they’ll ask you. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

  1.     Don’t say more than is necessary to answer the question truthfully.

If a question can fairly be answered with a yes or a no, answer the question with a yes or a no. If you find yourself saying “yes, but….” or “no, but….,” things are probably not going well for you.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Blanchard Law for their insight into testifying and criminal defense.

What Can I Use as Evidence in My Title IX Proceeding?

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When allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct are reported to a college or university, they begin an investigation under Title IX. The investigation generally begins with the university notifying the subject of the investigation of the allegations, and inviting that person in for an interview.

If you are the subject of a Title IX investigation, you will need to discuss with your attorney whether or not you should submit to an interview with the Title IX investigators. However, whether or not you submit to an interview with investigators, you will be permitted to submit other evidence regarding the allegations at the time of the scheduled interview. Below is a description of the kinds of evidence that you may, in consultation with your attorney, want to submit to the Title IX investigators:

  1.     Favorable electronic evidence.

Often, you may have electronic evidence that is helpful in proving your innocence. Records of text messages from the accuser, social media posts, messages in other message applications, phone records, and other electronic evidence may paint a different picture than the story being told by the accuser. Many times, in a he-said, she-said case, one of the only methods you have for proving your innocence is to show that the accuser is not telling a credible story.

  1.     Witness statements and/or contact information.

Think about people who were around immediately before or after the event. What might they have to say that would be helpful in showing that you are telling the truth, and that your accuser is not? If those people might have something helpful to say, have them interviewed by a private investigator. If they do in fact have information that is helpful to your case, turn over a report from the private investigator to the Title IX investigators, along with contact information for the witnesses. It’s probably not a good idea to rely solely on giving contact information to the Title IX investigators, as they may never follow up and actually complete an interview.

  1.     Expert witness reports.

If there is a fact at issue that could be given better context by an expert witness (e.g. DNA, injuries, etc…), you can hire an expert witness to review the case and create a report for you. If that report produces information that is favorable to your case, then you can turn it over to the Title IX investigators to use in making their determination.

  1.     Favorable polygraph examination report.

Your lawyer, like a criminal lawyer Greenville, MI trusts, can help you schedule a polygraph examination (lie detector test) confidentially. If you get a passing result, you can turn the report over the the Title IX investigator. While such a report might not be admissible in a court, no such evidentiary rules apply in a Title IX investigation.

If you are under investigation by a college or university for sexual assault or sexual misconduct, you should contact an attorney who is experienced in handling Title IX matters immediately.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.