Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Newton County Wrestling Coach Accused of Choking a Student 

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jan 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Newton County Sheriff's Office recently charged a Liberty Middle School wrestling coach with choking a 13-year-old athlete at a practice. Earlier in the month, on January 5th, a deputy went to the school after getting a call about a possible assault. Allegedly, after wrestling practice that day, a middle schooler told his grandfather that his assistant coach “choked him during practice.” There were no visible marks on the boy, but evidence continued to back up his version of the story. Warrants were then issued for Jacob Hoke's arrest on January 16th. There were six student witnesses to the incident according to authorities. Hoke bonded out of jail last Thursday. After the event, the Newton County School District put Hoke on administrative leave. 

Although, police were responding to a report of a possible assault, like many reports of a crime, the term assault was misused in our common venacular. Assault is defined as attempting to commit a violent injury to the person of another or committing an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.

However, Hoke is actually charged with…

1. Battery 

There are three different types of battery in the state of Georgia. These include simple battery, battery, and aggravated battery. Battery is defined by §16-5-23(1) of the O.C.G.A. “A person commits the offense of battery when he or she intentionally causes substantial harm or visible bodily harm to another.” According to the statute, visible bodily harm means that the injury is capable of being seen by another person. These injuries include (but are not limited to) a black eye, swollen facial or body parts, or bruised body parts. The statute further differentiates the injuries by including that they must be substantial or considerable. To be convicted, just like any other crime, the state of Georgia must show that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For a battery conviction, there must be a demonstration of the accused person having an intent to make physical contact with the alleged victim. If one is convicted of battery, the penalty is a misdemeanor and can include a jail sentence of up to one year, up to $1,000 in fines, probation, and restitution to the victim. Simple battery is also a misdemeanor and is defined by §16-5-23 as when a person intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or intentionally causes physical harm to another. Aggravated battery is a felony and is defined by §16-5-24 as when a person maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof.

2. Second-Degree Cruelty to a Child

There are three different degrees of cruelty to children in the state of Georgia. Second-degree cruelty to a child is defined by §16-5-70(c) of the O.C.G.A. “A person with criminal negligence causes a child less than 18 years old cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.” Criminal negligence in Georgia is best defined by case law. “Criminal negligence necessarily implies, not only knowledge of probable consequences which may result from the use of a given instrumentality, but also willful or wanton disregard of the probable effects of such instrumentality upon others likely to be affected thereby. Criminal negligence as used in our Code is the reckless disregard of consequences, or a heedless indifference to the rights and safety of others, and a reasonable foresight that injury would probably result.” Thomas v. State, 85 S.E.2d 644, 646-47 (Ga. App. 1955). This means that the accused person should have known that the consequences of his actions would result in injury to others and that there was a deliberate disregard of the safety of others. To be convicted, just like any other crime, the state of Georgia must show that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For a second-degree cruelty to a child conviction, there must be a demonstration of evidence of the age of the child, evidence of the child suffering mental or physical pain, and evidence of criminal negligence. If one is convicted of second-degree cruelty to a child, the penalty is a felony and can include one to ten years of imprisonment.

3. Disorderly Conduct 

When someone behaves in a manner that leads to a non-peaceful event, the state of Georgia considers it disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is defined by §16-11-39(a1) of the O.C.G.A. “When a person acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby such person is placed in reasonable fear of the safety of such person's life, limb, or health.” To be convicted, just like any other crime, the state of Georgia must show that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For a disorderly conduct conviction, there must be a demonstration of the alleged victim being placed in reasonable fear for his safety. If one is convicted of disorderly conduct, the penalty is a misdemeanor and can include a jail sentence of up to one year and up to $1,000 in fines.

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About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense and Criminal Defense. As a former Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. In DUI cases, you only have 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.


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