While it is certainly true that every category of crime brings with it a sense of shame and scorn, offenses that are of a violent nature tend to have an especially negative connotation that invariably attaches to those accused or convicted of them. The use of physical force against another, particularly that which leads to injury or death, is something which can result in severe sanctions, lengthy incarceration, financial penalties and other long-lasting, detrimental effects on the accused. However, an allegation is a long way away from a conviction, and it is critical that anyone facing a violent crime charge in Georgia seek experienced legal assistance as soon as possible. At Morris Law, P.C. we are prepared to shoulder the load on behalf of our clients and develop a defense strategy designed to produce the most positive outcomes possible.
Commonly-Charged Categories of Violent Crime in Georgia
The broad rubric of violent crime encompasses a relatively wide array of offenses, according to Georgia law. Some of the acts comprising violent crime according to statute include:
- aggravated assault
- domestic violence
- aggravated battery
- aggravated stalking
- armed robbery
- child molestation
- aggravated child molestation
- rape and other sexual offenses
Considering the range of offenses included under the violent crime umbrella, it is not surprising that the required elements of these crimes and their potential penalties vary, sometimes substantially. It is, therefore, important to explore the definitions of each crime separately as well as the sanctions they carry.
Plainly stated, Georgia law defines simple assault as an attempt to commit violent harm to another or acting in a manner which puts another party in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm. At its most basic level, a crime of this nature is considered a misdemeanor, though there are circumstances which can cause the offense to be elevated to that of a high and aggravated nature. O.C.G.A. §16-5-21 further explicates the crime of aggravated assault, providing that an individual who commits assault with the intent to murder, rape or rob, utilizes a deadly weapon or acts in other proscribed ways will face even greater potential punishments, including incarceration of up to 20 years.
O.C.G.A. § 16-5-40 provides that kidnapping is committed when an individual abducts or steals another person while lacking lawful authority to do so, holding him or her against their will. This offense is characterized by a requirement of “movement” of the victim which must be closely scrutinized as part of any legal defense. Kidnapping carries especially serious penalties ranging from 10 years in prison up to life.
This category of violent crime also deserves attention, as it is among those commonly charged under Georgia law. Robbery is in essence, the immediate, intentional taking of another's property, aided by the use of an offensive weapon. Because this crime brings with it an onerous mandatory minimum sentence of ten years, it is vital that all avenues of legal defense be explored as soon as possible after a charge is lodged.
Without a doubt, violent crimes of a sexual nature are considered to be among the most serious offenses with which an individual can be charged, particularly when the alleged victims are minors. The extreme sensitivity of these types of crimes often makes those charged with committing them feel as though they stand almost no chance of mounting a successful defense. However, given the fact that certain classes of repeat offenders in Georgia may be subjected to mandatory minimum life terms, with harsh penalties also applicable even to first-time offenders, a vigorous legal defense is crucial in order to avoid the frequently devastating effects of long-term incarceration, costly fines, mandatory registration as a sex offender and other ancillary consequences which routinely bring entire families to the brink of ruin.
Murder and Related Crimes
In terms of violent criminal offenses, nothing is more serious than a murder charge. Given the gravity of the alleged act involved, it stands to reason that the potential penalties for conviction are the most harmful. Whether an individual is found guilty of malice murder (the unlawful and intentional causing of another person's death) or felony murder (causing another's death during the commission of a separate felony, regardless of malice or intent), the possible sanctions are inescapably bad. Those convicted of either classification of murder will face death, a life term without the possibility of parole or a life term with the possibility of parole not arising until well into the future. Clearly, anyone charged with a crime of this type must secure the advice and guidance of an experienced legal team able to explore every detail of the prosecution's case in order to exploit weaknesses and identify procedure errors.
Domestic Violence Crimes
This offense category relates to physical harm that is done to one household or family member by another, and the individual charges within it can carry substantial penalties as well as ancillary consequences that routinely stand in the way of resuming a normal life. Not only is jail time a real possibility for those convicted of domestic violence, offenders may also be at risk of losing professional licenses, positions of employment, custodial or visitation rights and more. The seriousness of these types of charges must never be underestimated, and the aid of a defense attorney can make all the difference in mitigating the risk of harm.
Severity of Penalties for Violent Crimes in Georgia
Those accused of certain violent crimes in Georgia need to fully grasp the very real threat the charges lodged against them pose to their future well-being. While lower-level violent crimes committed by first-time offenders may bring sanctions that are comparatively easy to overcome, there are other specific offenses which make a return to productive society a virtual impossibility. Examples of such crimes and convictions include:
- kidnapping, with penalties ranging from 10-20 for victims aged 14 and over to life imprisonment for victims under 14
- kidnapping with bodily harm involved, which yields life in prison or the death penalty
- rape, which brings life without parole, the death penalty or life with parole possible after 30 years
- aggravated sexual battery, yielding life in prison or 25 years' incarceration followed by lifetime probation
- armed robbery, which brings a mandatory 10 years in prison with no eligibility for parole, 20 years in prison, life imprisonment or the death penalty, depending on the surrounding circumstances
Defending Against Charges of Violent Crime
When an individual learns that he or she will be charged with a violent crime in Georgia, a million thoughts are certain to race through their mind. Based on the underlying facts, they may even feel as though they stand no chance of successfully defending their good name and resuming a normal, contributory role in society. However, anyone accused of a such a crime needs to remember that regardless of actual guilt or innocence, it is always the prosecution's duty to convince the judge or jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In every criminal case, particularly those involving serious violent crimes, the state has substantial hurdles to clear in order to obtain a conviction. The role of a criminal defense attorney is to carefully investigate all aspects of the case, obtain and assess statements from all available witnesses, scrutinize forensic evidence and other key proofs offered by the prosecution and do everything possible to establish doubt in the mind of the trier of fact. Procedural mistakes, sloppy evidence handling and other constitutional violations committed by the state in making its case will be identified and exploited wherever possible, ensuring that the defendant receives the fair treatment he or she deserves.
Criminal Defense Attorneys in Augusta, Georgia
As former prosecutors, themselves, Jill and Pittman Morris have seen the criminal justice system from both sides of the fence. Clients facing charges of violent crime in Georgia can capitalize on these unique insights and experience during what is undoubtedly one of the most frightening times in their lives. At Morris Law, P.C. we understand the debilitating impact a conviction can have on the lives of not just the accused, but also those they love. Extended absences due to incarceration, onerous financial penalties, job losses, social stigma and other consequences of being found guilty of one or more of these crimes can destroy families, sometimes for generations.
If you are in the unfortunate circumstance of facing a charge related to violent crime, the stakes are simply too high to leave any aspect of your legal defense to chance. Swift action must be taken in order to safeguard your constitutional rights, your entitlement to equal treatment under the law and your ability to embark on a positive, productive path in life. Morris Law, P.C. is ready to put a comprehensive approach to work for you and your family, leaving no avenue unexplored in our quest to have your charges reduced or dismissed, or at the least, effect substantial mitigation of the sanctions ultimately applied.
While we stand prepared to develop defense strategies designed to champion your cause, time truly is of the essence. To immediately schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case, contact us at (706) 250-1316.