Georgia Criminal Process
The criminal justice system is essentially the same across the nation but there are differences in how the procedures are implemented. The Georgia Criminal Process can be overwhelming and complicated from the outside but we can help walk you through every step. From arraignment to final disposition, Lawson and Berry has over 50 combined years of experience in criminal law and are ready to assist you wherever you are.
The Criminal Process in Georgia
Arraignment: Arraignment is the start of the formal prosecution of someone's case. It is also called an initial hearing or initial appearance. It is a very important part of the criminal process.
Bench Trial: A bench trial is when the judge hears and decides the case. The other option is a jury trial where jurors decide whether the accused is innocent or guilty. The decision to have a bench trial should not be taken lightly. It is a decision that you should discuss with a Georgia Criminal Lawyer.
Bench Warrant: A bench warrant is a warrant issued by the judge after a person fails to appear from court. Bench warrants differ from arrest warrants. Generally, bench warrants do not come with the police knocking on your door. Instead, your name goes into a computer system and if you are ever stopped by the police, you will be taken into custody for the outstanding bench warrant.
Bond: Bond refers to the percentage a professional bondsman requires in order to post the remainder of the money for the defendant to be released. There are different types of bonds: a surety bond, cash bond, or property bond.
Calendar Call: Calendar call is a court appearance where the parties inform the judge of the status of the case. It includes what the estimated length of trial will be, whether an agreement has been reached, or the number of witnesses that may be called. The purpose of the calendar call is to help move cases along.
Committal Hearing: Similar to preliminary hearing, committal hearings are held to determine if someone can be held in jail either pending bond or without bond in serious cases. They are essentially mini-trials. The judge will determine whether there is probable cause that the accused is guilty of the charged crimes.
Discovery Motions: Discovery is a procedure where the parties obtain evidence from the other parties. It is used in both civil and criminal cases. For criminal cases, the evidence requested can include: police call logs, witness statements, medical records, and photographs of the crime scenes.
Grand Jury Indictment: An indictment is a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime. Georgia reserves grand jury indictments for capital offenses. The grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to allow the defendant to be criminal prosecuted.
Jury Trial: Citizens have the right to request a jury trial under the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution. A jury trial occurs when the accused has their case decided by a jury.
Motion for New Trial: A motion for new trial can be filed by either the plaintiff or the defendant. The motion must be filed within twenty-eight days of the conviction and sentencing. Requesting a new trial is a decision that should be carefully considered.
Motions in Limine: A motion in limine is a motion where one side attempts to prevent the other side from using certain evidence. While most motions must be filed at a certain time or else you waive that motion, motions in limine can be done at any time. If the motion is granted, then the evidence cannot be presented in court.
Motions to Suppress: Motions to suppress request that the judge exclude certain evidence from trial. It is a motion presented by the defendant. Motions to suppress are filed before a trial.
Plea Bargains: There are many ways for a case to be resolved. Plea bargains are a common way of reaching a conclusion in criminal cases. A plea bargain is a settlement between the parties in a criminal case.
Preliminary Hearing: In criminal cases, there are multiple court appearances. The first appearance is known as a preliminary hearing. They are sometimes referred to as a trial before a trial. A preliminary hearing is when the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial.
Pretrial Conference: A pretrial conference is a meeting of the parties before trial. There are many reasons why a party may request a pretrial conference. One reason is to simplify the issues and improve the quality of the trial.
Warrant Application Hearing: There are multiple types of warrants: arrest warrants, bench warrants, and search warrants. Citizens are able to request a warrant for a person. A warrant application hearing is when a citizen wants to have someone arrested for a misdemeanor.
Contact Us Today
There are many steps in Georgia's criminal process and few people are able to navigate it all on their own. Lawson and Berry are Georgia's premier criminal defense attorneys and are ready to help. Their office is available 24/7 even nights, weekends, and holidays in order to be accessible to you. Contact them today for a free case evaluation.