Criminal Defenses in Georgia:
You may not be aware that there are many potential Georgia Criminal Defenses that may apply in your case. We never assume you are guilty or that you should be punished. Many of these defenses may help get your case dismissed, or reduced to a less serious charge, or may provide mitigation insofar as your punishment is concerned.
Our role, as Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys is to ascertain the facts of your case and then find the right potential defense or defenses to the charges you are facing. The difficulty is not in finding potential Georgia Criminal Defenses but instead lies in determining which ones apply to your case. Your case will not defend itself, and inaction is tantamount to giving up.
Our attorneys are have the expertise you need to find the right Georgia Criminal Defenses necessary to protect your rights. This is our life's works and at Lawson and Berry, we take it seriously.
The following criminal defenses in Georgia are the most common:
Georgia Criminal Defenses:
Abandonment of Effort: This defense applies when a person abandons his effort to commit a crime or prevents the commission of a crime. Deserting the scene of the crime due to fear of getting caught will not add up to abandonment. It also will not constitute abandonment if you decide to postpone the criminal activity until a later time. Abandonment requires the person to prevent the commission of the crime or to voluntarily and completely withdraw from the criminal act before it was committed.
Affirmative Defenses: Affirmative defenses are used to explain or justify the behavior the alleged criminal behavior. Unlike other defenses, when using an affirmative defense, the accused is not saying the crime did not occur. Instead, they are giving a reason the criminal act was justified or excused.
Affirmative Defenses to Certain Sexual Crimes: There are certain affirmative defenses that apply only to trafficking a person for sexual servitude. Both coercion and deception are defenses that can be used specifically for trafficking a person for sexual servitude.
Alibi: The alibi argument is one that most people are familiar with. An alibi must consist of proof that the accused was elsewhere when an act, typically a crime, was alleged to have taken place. The evidence must demonstrate that it would have been impossible for the accused to be at the scene of the crime.
Coercion: The defense of coercion occurs when a person persuades the accused to do something by using force or threats. However, coercion does not apply in murder cases. It is not a sufficient defense if there was a reasonable way for the accused to escape the threat of harm.
Conviction for Lesser Included Offenses: Occurs when all the elements necessary to impose liability can be found in a lesser included offense then the crime charged with. If successful with this defense, the suspect will receive a lessened punishment. Furthermore, it provides a more favorable outcome for the suspect.
Delusional Compulsion: Insanity and delusion compulsion are two defenses that are often confused. The delusional compulsion argument can apply when a person has a mental disorder that compelled them to believe something, which if were actually true, would justify their actions. Georgia law presumes every person is of sound mind, therefore, the accused must demonstrate that they are not of sound mind and discretion.
Diversion: First time criminal offenders have a couple of options available to them and diversion is one of them. Diversion is a program that is an alternative to going to jail for first time offenders. The purpose behind these programs is to encourage offenders to learn from their mistakes so they will not repeat them in the future.
Entrapment: A person may not be guilty of a crime if there is evidence that his conduct was induced or solicited by a government officer for the purpose of obtaining evidence. If successful in proving this defense, then the accused will not be guilty of a crime even though one had been committed.
Equal Access: The equal access defense generally applies in drug possession cases. The theory is that if multiple people had access or could have possessed the illegal drugs, then it is impossible to prove one person exclusively possessed the drugs. This defense is not set out in the Georgia Code but instead has been developed through case law.
Georgia First Offender Act: Similar to the diversion defense, the Georgia First Offender Act allows for charges to be dropped after certain conditions are met. In Georgia, when a person has not been convicted of a felony before, they may be put on probation instead of being convicted of a crime. If all of the requirements are completed, then the conviction will be removed from your criminal history.
Immunity: When a person renders assistance to a law enforcement officer, they can be immune from any criminal liability that might otherwise occur. However, the assistance must have been reasonable and in good faith. Also, the officer's life must have been endangered while performing his official duties.
Impossibility: The impossibility defense applies when the defendant completed actions intending to be a crime but the acts did not legally amount to a crime. There are two facts a crime can be impossible: factual and legal. Georgia only accepts the legal impossibility argument.
Insanity: The insanity defense is complicated because there are four potential tests for insanity. Georgia uses the M'Naghten Rule. A person may not be found guilty of a crime if they did not have the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the act.
Involuntary Intoxication: Involuntary intoxication applies when a person did not have sufficient mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong because of the intoxication. This defense does not apply when the intoxication is voluntary.
Justification: The justification defense applies in certain circumstances and is a complete defense to prosecution for any crime if it applied to the situation. Georgia law outlines 6 situations where the justification argument applies. If it is proven that the accused's actions were justified, then they will be acquitted of their charges.
Minimum Age: Georgia law does not allow for a person to be found guilty of a crime unless they are at least 13 years of age. This does not mean that a person under 13 years old cannot commit a crime. Instead, it raises the defense that protects them from the consequences of committing a crime.
Misfortune or Accident: A claim that the action was committed by misfortune or accident and there is no evidence of criminal scheming or intention may be a defense. Georgia courts rarely accept this defense. Most of the time, it is discovered that the crime was not committed by accident.
Mistake of Fact: A mistake of fact is not a defense all by itself. Instead, mistake of fact insulates the accused from a criminal charge if it shows that they did not have the required intent to commit the crime. The mistake must be a reasonable one to be considered a defense.
Multiple Prosecutions for Same Conduct: This defense is also known as double jeopardy and is set out under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. This statute protects people from being charged with the same crime twice.
No Duty to Retreat Prior to Self Defense: There are certain situations where a person does not have to retreat before engaging in self-defense. They include defense of self, defense of home, or defense of property other than a home. In those circumstances, a person does not have to retreat and is permitted to use self defense.
Opprobrious or Abusive Language: When charged with simple assault or battery, evidence of opprobrious or abusive language may be enough to justify your actions. There is no set standard for what constitutes opprobrious or abusive language but Georgia case law has set some guidelines. It will ultimately be up to a jury whether the words justified the assault or battery.
Self Defense: While the law encourages citizens to avoid violence at all costs, there are circumstances that warrant a use of force. A person is allowed to use self defense when they believe it is necessary in order to defend against another's use of unlawful force. The key to whether self defense was justified is whether the person reasonably believed it was necessary.
Use of Force in Defense of House: Another situation where the use of force is allowed is when protecting your home. There must be evidence that the suspect attempted to enter or attack the house to be justified in using force. Another element of this defense is that the victim reasonably believes entry was attempted.
Use of Force in Defense of Other Property: Other than protecting your house or yourself, there is also a defense when using force to protect your property. Similarly to the other defenses, the use of force can only be used if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent a violent action against you.
How Our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You
We cannot overstate the importance of examining every criminal defense when you are facing charges. They can make the difference between an acquittal and a conviction. Our Attorneys will investigate every detail of your case to see what criminal defenses apply to your situation. Our examination is thorough and time intensive. We read every police report, take time to interview witnesses, and look at videos. We will even go to the scene of the arrest or incident to see the whole picture. This complete examination is how we are able to correctly apply the Criminal Defenses in Georgia to your case.
Georgia Case Law
One way to see how important the criminal defenses are is to examine cases where they have been successful. Our Attorneys read through case law to see how prior cases can support or discredit your case. We make sure to be prepared with whatever the State tries to argue in court.
There are more examples on each of the individual defense pages but a couple illustrations of how these criminal defenses in Georgia can work for you can be seen in the following cases:
A Georgia case where the use of force was justified in defense of habitation can be found in Benham v. State. In this case, Jamerica Benham was sitting in her car with three of her children. There was a history of animosity between Benham and Farrah Kennemore. Benham was parked outside an apartment building that Kennemore was visiting. Kennemore approached the vehicle and an argument ensued. Kennemore reached through the car window and began to claw at Benham's face. Benham grabbed a box cutter and repeatedly slashed Kennemore. Finally, two people were able to pull Kennemore away from the car so Benham could drive off. At trial, Benham testified that she believed the self-defense to be her only option to protect herself, her vehicle, and her children. Therefore, Benham was justified in using deadly force to repel the attack from Kennemore. 277 Ga. 516, (2004).
Another example where a Georgia Criminal Defense helped a person obtain an acquittal is Jennings v. State. In this case, Jennings was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Jennings argued that his actions were justified because it was in self defense. Jennings' testimony that the victims were beating him up and threatening to kill him was corroborated in part by one shooting victim. This provided some evidence that his actions were justified, and therefore the Court stated he was entitled to immunity from prosecution based on self-defense. 337 Ga. App. 164, (2016).
Contact Us Today
An understanding of these Georgia Criminal Defenses is not enough. You cannot represent yourself; you still need a Top-Rated Georgia Criminal Lawyer. Common sense does not allow the layperson to present their case. The rules of evidence and procedure are enforced whether you have an attorney or represent yourself. The stakes are too high to not have the best representation. As with most things in the law, a defense that is not presented properly is deemed waived. We cannot later on present a defense that has been procedurally waived or unexercised. This is where we can help you the most.
At Lawson and Berry we have over 50 combined years of experience in Georgia criminal defense that you can put to work for you today. We understand that you may need us 24 hours a day, and we are here to help after normal office hours, on weekends, and at night. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.