Have You Been Charged with Concealing the Death of Another in Georgia?
Many people consider concealing death of another to mean the physical act of hiding the body. While that is one way to be guilty of the crime, it also extends to hindering a discovery of whether or not a person was unlawfully killed. This includes failing to tell officers information about where a body is found or not telling people that the person is dead. If charged with concealing the death of another in Georgia, you need the representation of an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney. The Law Offices of Lawson and Berry have unparalleled defense experience and can help you achieve a favorable outcome in your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
A person will be guilty of concealing the death of another when by concealing the death of any other person, they hinder the discovery of whether or not such person was unlawfully killed.
Georgia Case Law
A woman, Jayna James, was charged with concealing the death of her fiancée, David Nemeth. James owned a hair salon and told one of her customers, Michael Graham, that s ahend Nemeth were not getting along. Graham also did some yard work for James and went to her house to pick up a lawnmower. Once there, he got into an argument with Nemeth and killed him. When James got home, Graham told her he killed Nemeth, and she told him to get rid of the body and clean up the spot of blood on the floor with 409. Graham buried Nemeth's body on some land owned by his father. When Nemeth's sister and family began to call James to check on him, she told them he had moved out, and she hadn't heard from him. His family filed a missing persons report that was transferred to the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, and they spoke to James about Nemeth. Years go by, and finally police arrested Graham after he confessed to a friend he had killed Nemeth.
At trial, James argued that there was insufficient evidence that she concealed the death. However, the Court found there was sufficient evidence as she never reported Nemeth's death or informed the officers of his death. Therefore, she was convicted of concealing the death of another. James v. State, 274 Ga. App. 498, (2005).
A case where the accused was not convicted of concealing the death of another is Walker v. State. 296 Ga. 161, (2014). In this case, Cedrick Walker was charged with murdering Ramona and Tyler Givens and concealing the death of Ramona. The evidence showed that both Ramona and Tyler both died of asphyxiation. Ramona's body was moved from the floor to the sofa and Walker had turned off a nightlight in the apartment before leaving and locking the door. The State charged Walker with concealing the death of Ramona based on this evidence.
However, the Court concluded that there was no proof that the movement to the sofa made the body more difficult to see from any vantage point or that it made it difficult for anyone to discern that she was dead. Ultimately, they said there was no proof at all that moving her to the sofa or turning off a night light in any way concealed her death. The Court then looked at whether locking the door constituted concealment. However, they found that there was no evidence that it hindered the discovery of her unlawful killing. Mona Lise, who found Ramona, used her key to open the door to the apartment and there was no suggestion that the locked door delayed her entry. In conclusion, the Court found no evidence that Walker did anything to conceal the death of Ramona that in any way hindered the discovery of the unlawful nature of her killing.
What Has to Be Proven in Order to Be Convicted
To be convicted of concealing the death of another in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves showing that the suspect actually concealed the death and that their doing so delayed or otherwise hindered the discovery that the death was an unlawful one. Nazario v. State, 293 Ga. 480, (2013).
Penalty for Concealing Death of Another in Georgia
If convicted of concealing the death of another in Georgia, the accused will be guilty of a felony. The penalties will include a prison term between one and ten years, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, or both.
However, the consequences of a felony conviction extend beyond prison and fines. Having a felony conviction of your record can make it difficult to obtain employment, apply for credit, and buy or rent a home.
Defenses to Concealing Death in Georgia
Lack of Evidence that Actions Hindering Discovery: As in the case described earlier, there must evidence that the action hindered discovery of the body.
Innocence: Even police officers make mistakes, and you may have been arrested based on a misunderstanding or mistake. If you did not commit this crime, you need a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney to help you get the charges dropped.
What are Not Defenses
Suspects often try to argue that they didn't do anything to conceal the body; therefore, they are not guilty of a crime. However, as seen in James v. State, not communicating with authorities and informing them of death is still enough to be convicted of concealing a body.
If you or a loved one has been charged with concealing a body in Georgia, you need assistance immediately! The consequences are severe, and you need someone who has extensive experience in criminal defense. The Offices of Lawson and Berry have over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.