What To Do If You Are Charged With a Felony in Georgia?
Regardless of what crime you are charged with, a felony is an extremely serious matter. A felony conviction can leave you facing lengthy prison time, fines, and penalties that will affect you well after you have served your time.
To have a chance to avoid these felony consequences, you need to take proper steps from the very beginning of your case. These are some of the steps we recommend, but ultimately we wholeheartedly recommend you call one of our Georgia Felony Attorneys to discuss your situation.
1. Contact an Attorney Immediately After Your Arrest
This is one of the most critical steps you can take. Contacting an experienced Georgia felony lawyer at the beginning gives you the best chance. Every moment is vital in criminal cases because evidence can disappear, witnesses become unavailable, and it becomes difficult to gather the evidence to defend your case. Hiring an attorney at the start ensures that you receive the best possible defense because they will begin fighting for your rights and your future.
Furthermore, when you are charged with a crime, you are facing a prosecutor who knows all the technicalities of the law that you may not know. They know how to sell you on a deal that you think is great, but in reality, it may not be in your best interest. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer will even the playing field and relieve you of the strain of defending your case yourself.
2. Remain Calm and Polite
This might be one of the most challenging things to remember, especially if you believe you are innocent or do not know why the police are questioning you. Being interviewed by the authorities, who are often aggressive, can be frustrating and scary.
However, even if you believe you have been wrongfully arrested and that your rights have been violated, do not resist arrest or attempt to argue with police officers. Resisting will make you appear guilty and could result in additional charges being filed against you.
3. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
Most people are familiar with the phrase, “You have the right to remain silent…”. But your right to remain silent is not something that is just made up because it sounds good on TV. It is a significant part of your case.
The Fifth Amendment gives all of us the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves in a criminal case. The easiest way to avoid incriminating yourself is to remain silent. We recommend all of our clients not to speak with the police without first talking to a lawyer.
If you find yourself in custody, refuse to answer any questions and politely insist that you will not answer anything without a lawyer present. You do not need to act hostile toward the police in order to exercise your right to remain silent. Politely tell law enforcement officials that you are choosing to exercise your Fifth Amendment rights.
4. Understand What Offense You Are Facing
Most people do not realize the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. That means they often do not understand the severity of the crime they are accused of and the harsh potential consequences they face if convicted of a felony.
Generally, a misdemeanor in Georgia is punishable by a year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both. A felony carries more severe potential penalties, including a prison sentence, probation, drug or alcohol treatment, and hefty fines. In addition, you may have to pay restitution to the victim of the crime.
Additionally, people convicted of a felony lose certain rights once released from prison. In Georgia, you lose your right to own a firearm and could also be denied the ability to gain a professional license.
It is important that you understand the specific felony charges that you face and the severity of those charges.
5. Never Miss a Court Date
With a few exceptions, a person charged with a misdemeanor may elect to have their attorney make any appearance in court in their place, meaning the defendant can choose not to appear in court. That is not the case if you have been charged with a felony.
Work with your felony attorney in Georgia to create a calendar of the hearings involved in your case. Make sure you set yourself reminders and alarms so that you do not miss these court dates. Failure to appear in court as scheduled not only makes you look bad for your felony case, but it also could result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
6. Be Honest with Your Georgia Felony Lawyer
We understand that you may be hesitant to tell the whole story because the evidence may look bad, or you may be trying to protect someone. However, as your attorney, we have to know the most accurate information to properly prepare for your case and build your defense. A successful defense requires honesty throughout the entire process.
Give your attorney an honest, detailed account of what happened. The more accurate information the attorney has, the better prepared he or she will be to give you the best defense possible.
7. Avoid Further Criminal Charges
While you are awaiting your trial date, it is crucial to be very careful with your next moves. Avoid drinking and using drugs, be extra cautious when driving, and avoid situations where you would be in danger of getting arrested. An arrest, while you are already in the process, does not help your attorney negotiate a lesser sentence for the crime.
8. Write Down the Incident As Soon As Possible
One of the most important things we tell our clients who are accused of crimes to do is to write down the facts of the case immediately. People tend to forget details very quickly, and a small detail could have a tremendous impact on your case. We want the information fresh in your mind, and this happens when you can write the events down as soon as possible. Details like the location, who you were with, the time of day, your surroundings, and the words that were exchanged are all helpful pieces of information.
From the moment you are arrested, the prosecution will begin documenting everything it can about you in order to build a case to convict you. Their case will be based upon police reports, witness testimonies, and other evidence. That is why you should prepare the most accurate information as possible to refute any inaccurate claims.
9. Identify Key Witnesses
Around the same time that you write down your statement of the events, you should also write down the names and contact information of any person who could possibly testify favorably on your behalf. Start by writing down the name of any witnesses who may have seen the alleged crime take place. Your lawyer will be able to follow up with these witnesses to see if their version of the events matches up with yours.
Additionally, you will also want to collect the name and information of anyone who could testify to your good character. These types of witnesses could help your Georgia Felony Lawyer show that you are not the type of person who would commit a felony crime.
10. Do Not Panic
We understand that being charged with a crime, especially a felony, is an extremely stressful situation. Hiring a felony attorney in Georgia is one of the first steps you should take to help your case. After that, maintaining a clear head and being cooperative with your attorney is extremely beneficial. Hiring an attorney, being present at hearings, and being diligent in helping you attorney build your case are all excellent ways you can strengthen your defense.
Contact Our Georgia Felony Lawyers Today
A felony charge is a serious accusation with potentially life-changing consequences. If you or someone you care about has been charged with a felony, you will need an experienced and aggressive attorney to help you in your case. At Lawson and Berry, our attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges for more than 50 combined years. We've helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need. Let us help you, too.
With offices throughout Georgia, there is an experienced Lawson and Berry felony attorney near you no matter where you work or live. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.