The Most Common Misdemeanors in Atlanta Georgia
What are the most common misdemeanor crimes in Atlanta, and what are the most common punishments?
In both Atlanta and Georgia as a whole, the main difference between a felony and misdemeanor crime is the punishment the defendant faces. Georgia misdemeanors are crimes that carry a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. Generally, misdemeanors are low level crimes that did not cause serious harm to another person. More serious felony charges can result in 10 years or a lifetime in prison. For both misdemeanors and felony charges, you could face the loss of the right to possess firearms, a suspended driver’s license, the loss of federal aid for education, and probation.
Common Atlanta misdemeanor charges include violations like:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Traffic charges like speeding or reckless driving
- Drug charges like marijuana possession, cocaine possession, heroin possession, and a minor in possession of alcohol
- Vandalism and criminal trespass
- Petty theft and shoplifting
- Disorderly conduct and public drunkenness
- Domestic violence
Depending on the severity of the specific incident, some of these crimes could also be charged as a felony.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor crime in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, you’re just one more of the millions of Americans swept up in our incredibly complex justice system. Between 1980 and 2008, a new “tough on crime” era in American politics led to the population of incarcerated Americans quadrupling from about 500,000 to more than 2.3 million people.
Although misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, that does not mean that they should be taken lightly. If found guilty, you will still face serious financial, social, and professional consequences. A nurse sentenced to jail time could lose his or her job, while a DUI conviction could make it harder to apply for new jobs in the future. A drug possession charge can make it nearly impossible to secure financial aid loans for college.
A Note About Public Defenders
In most states, even if a public defender does not have time for a case, they are not allowed to withdraw themselves. This results in many criminal defendants without the legal representation they deserve. Since 2008, Atlanta and the state of Georgia have been in the midst of a public defender legal crisis after funds for these offices dried up and public defense lawyers were laid off en masse. Too often, a public defender will urge a defendant to take a plea deal to save time, even if that isn’t in the defendant’s best interest.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal misdemeanor in the Atlanta area, then it’s important to consult an Atlanta defense attorney for legal representation.
What Happens After You’re Charged With a Misdemeanor in Atlanta?
There are a number of possible scenarios that could play out after being arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. In the worst case scenario, you could spend up to a year in jail, but there are more favorable outcomes. No matter what happens, a conviction will have lifelong consequences. These charges can show up on background checks for many years to come, making it harder to apply for jobs, loans, and college. If you’re a parent, then jail time can significantly impact your ability to care for your children or make a living. That’s why many people choose to hire an Atlanta criminal defense law firm to try and minimize the consequences they face.
Conditional Discharge for a Misdemeanor in Atlanta
If you’ve been arrested for the first time, particularly for first time drug offenses, then Atlanta defense attorneys may be able to help you secure a conditional discharge from the court. In this scenario, so long as you abide by certain requirements, the court may drop the drug charges altogether. For many people, this is the most favorable outcome available, which is why if you want to get drug charges dropped, it is crucial to have an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney working in the local courts.
Can You Be Found Innocent of Misdemeanor charges?
In theory, every U.S. citizen is innocent until proven guilty. In reality, city, state, and federal prosecutors only bring cases to trial if they believe they have enough evidence to secure a conviction.
Plea Deals, Nolo Contendere and Jail Time for Misdemeanors in Georgia
Judges in Georgia have a wide discretion in punishing misdemeanor crimes. Many times, defendants and their criminal defense attorneys will be offered a plea deal, in which the prosecution lowers the charges if the defendant pleads guilty. For instance, a defendant facing a year in jail could be offered three months of imprisonment or probation in exchange for a guilty plea that avoids trial, making this an ideal outcome in certain cases. In Georgia, defendants can also enter a nolo contendere plea, meaning no contest. While this plea does not require an admission of guilt, it is often punished in exactly the same manner.
Finally, the sentencing judge has the option of allowing defendants to serve jail time on weekends or even during nonworking hours. If you receive a sentence of six months or less, then the judge may allow you to serve your sentence around your work schedule, which helps many Atlanta residents keep their job while serving jail time.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, contact our experienced Atlanta, Georgia criminal defense attorneys at Pak & McRae Law, LLC for help planning your next move. You don’t have to go through this alone.