Federal vs State Charges

Criminal charges are categorised into divisions based on their intensity and many other factors. A common difference is between federal and state charges. As the name suggests, federal charges are dealt with by the federal government and federal prosecutors. Federal charges are generally more severe than state charges and hence require an attorney that can handle your case with experience and professionalism. A person is convicted of a federal crime when they break a federal law that leads to penalties.

In the case of state charges, they are dealt by courts of the city or country where the crime was committed. They are less severe than federal charges but still require you to hire a professional attorney to defend your case. State crimes do not mean that you can not face serious penalties due to the crime.

Federal crimes are investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, ICE, DEA, OR ETF. In contrast, state charges are investigated by local police officers and agents prosecuted by the district or city attorneys.

For example, if a person is involved in drug dealing, the offence will be considered a federal offence because interstate commerce was involved. In such cases, the federal agents will investigate the case because federal law was violated.

There are some crimes that come under both federal and state offences and can be prosecuted at either level. In some states, drug dealing is not considered a federal offence. Similarly, robbery, kidnapping, or trafficking can be categorised under both state and federal crimes.

The federal judges are appointed by the government to deal with federal crimes, and the state judges have to be re-elected in order to continue serving. Similarly, federal penalties are longer as compared to state penalties because federal judges hand out sentences based on the sentencing guidelines provided to them by the court.

If a person is convicted of a crime that comes under both federal and state offence, their case is handled separately by both courts because the federal and state court is not the same. But that does not mean that the same person will be charged with the same offence twice.

What are the Rights During Arrest and Questioning?

At any stage of your life, you may encounter questioning from law enforcement officers. Hence it is essential for you to know your fundamental rights during questioning or arrest. The questioning authorities may be police officers, investigators, drug administration enforcement officers, etc.

Rights During Questioning

The first and most crucial right during questioning and arrest is the right to remain silent. You are not obligated to answer any question asked by law enforcement officers. Even if you are in jail or not in a position to walk away from the situation, there is no legal punishment for refusing to answer a question.

However, there are some exceptions under which you must answer. In some states, if an officer stops you and asks your name, you are obligated to tell your name. But you do not have to answer further questions.

Apart from that, another exception is during a traffic violation. If an officer pulls you up and asks for your license, you must show them your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration.

You cannot just talk to an enforcement officer anyway. Anything you say to them can be used against you. Hence the best way to deal with the situation is to wait for your lawyer, discuss the situation with them, and then answer the question.

You are only obligated to answer questions in the courtroom. Even if you decide to talk to the officer, you are free to stop the interrogation at any point.

Talk to a Lawyer

It is your constitutional right to talk to a lawyer before answering any sort of questions. The lawyer has more experience and knowledge about dealing with such situations. Officers should stop asking questions once you demand a lawyer. Lawyers protect your rights and guide you through the process.

It’s not necessary for you to have a lawyer, but you can still ask the officer to talk to one. And if you already have a lawyer, it is advised to keep their business card with you at all times. This way, you can ask the officer to contact your lawyer.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Being convicted of criminal charges can put your future at risk. The possibility of going to jail is terrifying for anyone. Facing the complexities of the criminal justice system requires an excellent criminal defense lawyer.

Appointing a criminal defense lawyer is a complex process because the lawyer will define the outcome of your case.

Characteristics of a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer

While facing criminal charges, you need to look for the following characteristics in your criminal defense lawyer.

Experience: Experience is the most important thing to consider when selecting a lawyer. The lawyer should have a good experience in criminal defense cases. You can find that out from the lawyer’s website or through other sources.

Qualification: The lawyer should at least have a specialization in criminal law. They will deal with criminal procedure, legal research, and writing in a better way.

Transparent Fee Structure: Depending on the time your case requires seriousness of the charges and the skill of your lawyer, the fee structure should be decided beforehand. It is best for you to look for an attorney that clearly demonstrates their charging criteria so you can have an overall estimate of the cost of your defense.

Locally well-connected: Your lawyer should have experience in dealing with local courts and how they deal with such charges and cases. A locally well-connected lawyer knows the judges and other officials of the area, giving them an edge over the others.

Enthusiasm: Make sure that the lawyer is willing to work on your case. Fighting criminal charges half-heartedly can lead you downhill very quickly.

Availability: Being convicted of criminal charges require above and beyond effort to save yourself. Hence your lawyer must have enough time to give to your case because the more time you lose, the possibility increases of you losing the case.

Other Skills: A good criminal defense lawyer must have confidence in the courtroom, good negotiating skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. Criminal offense cases do not just merely require collecting and providing evidence. The lawyer must be good with words and should know when to accept or decline pleas or when to let the case go to trial.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Can You Get Out on Bond?

A bond can be defined as a written agreement which someone undertakes to perform a particular act such as appearing in court. If you fail to perform the stated act, you will have to pay a sum of money or forfeit money on deposit.

What Is the Difference Between Bonds and Bails

While the terms bond and bail are constantly used together, they are different. Bail refers to the cash that an individual who has been charged with a crime is required to pay to be released from police custody. While a bond is made on behalf of the defendant to secure their release by a third party.

When you are apprehended and implicated, you may be released from police custody by making bail or by acquiring a bond. The person appears in front of a judge who then decides the conditions of a person’s bail order. The judge will determine the bail order based on factors such as how severe the crime was and if the person is likely to commit the offense again once released.

The bail order can either be denied or accepted for example if the person is deemed to be a threat to society, the bail order is denied.  If the bail order is accepted by the judge, the bond order is granted by the judge.

Secured And Unsecured Bonds

There are two types of bonds that are secured and unsecured. When it comes to secured bond money or bail property, a sum of money must be paid to secure release while with an unsecured bond you will have to sign a document that states that you (the person posting the bond) will have to pay the stated amount if and when the defendant breaks the bond conditions. Under secured and unsecured bonds there are other types of bonds namely; Cash bonds, property, and surety bonds.

Cash bonds are payments that are made to the court. These payments are usually in cash. A surety bond is where a third party agrees to be responsible for the obligation or debt of the defiant. A property bond is where the defiant provides his title of his property as surety to be forfeited in case the defiant does not comply with his bond conditions.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Drug Trafficking and Intent

It’s crucial to keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the State to establish both your possession of the substance in question and your intent to sell it. It is frequently quite simple to establish felony drug possession, but the State often has trouble establishing intent to distribute in drug trafficking cases.

The State frequently turns to expert testimony when there isn’t clear proof that a narcotics transaction actually took place. These specialists will try to prove that there is other evidence or indications of drug trafficking in addition to the narcotics found in your possession.

In cases involving drug trafficking, both federal and State laws are relevant. Federal law will be enforced if someone is found trafficking a controlled narcotic across state lines, however if the drug trafficking occurs solely within one State, only that state’s laws will be enforced.

There are numerous federal drug laws in place, in addition to each State’s own set of drug laws. Many state laws have minimum sentencing guidelines for criminals based on federal statutes.

Lawmakers typically pass these regulations to discourage the major drug cartels, but more frequently, lower-level dealers are the ones who end up facing the consequences.

Federal penalties can be steep! Here are a few penalties you could face if you are charged with trafficking or intent to sell:

  • 10 years to life for 1 kilogram of heroin
  • 5 to 40 years for 100 grams of heroin
  • 10 years to life for 5 kilograms of cocaine
  • Up to 40 years for 500 grams of cocaine
  • Up to 5 years for 50 kilograms of marijuana
  • 10 years to life for 1000 kilograms of marijuana

Note: Drug trafficking regulations have been complicated by the legalization of marijuana in several states. Although some states have legalized marijuana on a state level, the federal government still views cannabis as unlawful, and its enforcement has not changed. It is necessary to remember that even in states where marijuana is legal, trafficking marijuana in amounts above a specific threshold may still be criminal. For instance, transporting even 4 ounces of marijuana is illegal in Colorado.

How to Defend against Criminal Mischief Charges

You should be concerned about the repercussions of a conviction if you have been accused of criminal mischief. You can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, both which entail hefty fines and lengthy jail or prison sentences.

Penalties

A criminal mischief charge be from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B non-violent felony. If you are guilty of a misdemeanor, you might spend a year in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.

On the opposite end of the range, the most serious accusation, criminal mischief in the first degree, is a Class B non-violent felony with a possible 25-year jail term.

Defenses

Several strategies can be used to successfully resolve a criminal mischief accusation. A criminal mischief attorney can assist you in selecting a defense that works for your particular situation. The following are some possible defense stances for defendants:

Involuntary Intoxication:  Unwilled drunkenness can affect anyone. If you acted after you are coerced or threatened into drinking, nothing you did while you were impaired should be used against you.

Choice of Evils: It is feasible to contend that, given the circumstances, what you did was the best course of action. For example, this would be the defense if a teen was forced due to peer pressure to pick between two crimes and choose the lessor one.

Wrongful Imprisonment: If you damaged property after being detained against your will, you might have a defense. This frequently occurs in cases of domestic violence where you had to break a few windows to get out and find refuge.

Self-Defense: A self-defense move that caused property damage is unlikely to be considered malicious mischief.

Exaggerated Damages: The prosecutor may exaggerate data to suggest that you committed more harm than you actually did. Your attorney can gather proof to demonstrate the actual damage to prevent you from being subjected to more considerable charges than necessary.

 Impaired Mental State: Trauma, PTSD, and emotional distress can all affect a person’s mental condition. If you were under any sort of emotional or mental duress while the action was committed, it may be a good defense.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Should I Plead Guilty to Domestic Violence?

Domestic abuse is a serious offense. If you are given a domestic violence charge, you might also be charged with assault, battery, or other offenses. You risk jail time and other punishments if you are found guilty of domestic abuse. The seriousness of the crime and whether it was a first or subsequent offense determine the specific punishments for domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

The use of force (or a threat of using force) against a family member, spouse, or another person with whom you have an intimate relationship is considered domestic violence. Domestic violence can occur without any physical harm being done to the victim.

Physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional, financial, and psychological abuse are examples of domestic violence. It may also involve harassment and stalking. Depending on how severe the assault was and whether a weapon was used, domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

When to Consider a Guilty Plea?

You might not think admitting guilt to domestic violence charges is in your best interests. Still, depending on the specifics of your case, it might be acceptable if it allows you to deal with the charge while minimizing the overall impact on your life.

For instance, pleading guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence can be the wisest course of action if the prosecutor has substantial evidence against you, and a conviction could result in lengthy jail time.

Keep in mind that if you enter a guilty plea to a domestic violence charge, your record will reflect a criminal conviction. Your ability to find work, affordable housing, qualify for government financial aid, and otherwise move on with your life could be harmed by this decision.

To decide whether entering a guilty plea is the best course of action, you and your attorney must carefully examine each specific aspect of your case.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you have been charged with domestic abuse, you should immediately speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate your charges and give you frank legal counsel regarding your best course of action.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Can a Parole Board Decision be Repealed?

There are several reasons why a person may want to overturn a parole board’s decision. The most obvious reason is the incarcerated person wishing to overturn a parole denial in order to regain liberty. However, the victim of a crime may seek to prevent their perpetrator from being given parole.

Parole boards allow the incarcerated and those affected by the incarcerated’s release the opportunity to appeal an unfavorable judgment.

The Purpose of Parole

The goal of parole is to assist a formerly jailed person in reintegrating into society under the supervision of a parole officer. The officer assists with housing and employment-related challenges. Furthermore, parole protects society from individuals who may represent a risk by ensuring that they adhere to specific criteria.

Parole Board Decisions

In most cases, requests for parole are considered by prison officials rather than judges. Officials from the parole board convene on a regular basis to hear bids for parole.

The severity of the offense, if the sentencing judge issued any parole recommendations, and whether the prisoner has followed applicable rules while incarcerated will all be considered by the board before making a parole decision.

Challenge a Denial of Parole

Those wishing to challenge a denial of parole can submit an appeal to the Parole Hearing Officers’ Division or equivalent authority. New evidence regarding guilt, proof of wrongdoing by the hearing official, or evidence of substantial procedural flaws during the hearing could all be grounds for an appeal.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Field Sobriety Test: To Refuse or Not to Refuse

Law enforcement authorities may want you to complete field sobriety tests to determine whether or not you are intoxicated if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. These tests are often administered by cops when they strongly suspect that a driver is intoxicated and want to confirm it. They are voluntary in most states, and you can refuse to participate. Many criminal defense lawyers advise people to avoid taking these tests because the evidence acquired from them will almost certainly only be used against them in DUI proceedings.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are a set of voluntary tests given to a driver to determine whether or not he or she is sober. Because the examinations are subjective in nature, the officer must decide whether you passed or not based on your performance or other considerations.

The US Department of Transportation claims that in only two-thirds of all DUI cases, FST were able to identify drunk drivers. For a large proportion of drivers, field sobriety tests may indicate that they are inebriated when they are not. The inconsistency is attributable to many circumstances, including anxiousness, drugs taken by the driver, and pre-existing balance issues.

Refusing the Test

A driver may respectfully decline or ask to call his or her attorney if asked to undergo a field sobriety test. While there will be no legal consequences for refusing to participate, it is crucial to note that this does not mean the driver will be free to go.

If a driver refuses a field sobriety test, they will almost always be asked to agree to a chemical test to ascertain their blood alcohol level — such as a breathalyzer test or a blood test. While these tests are being completed, the motorist may be brought to the police station or jail briefly.

Can I Refuse a PAS?

The officer may ask you to blow into a hand-held breath device, often known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device, while you are still at the traffic stop location. This breath device can determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but it is not the same as the evidential breath sample you will be required to submit at the station later.

Based on a breath sample, a PAS device can detect the presence and concentration of alcohol in your system. However, under implied consent regulations, you are not obligated to submit to a PAS test at the scene of the occurrence. The outcome of a PAS test is similar to that of an FST in that it is only utilized to aid the officer in evaluating probable cause.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

Getting to Work After Losing a License

Suppose you had your driver’s license suspended due to an impaired driving conviction or certain traffic ticket convictions. In that case, you’re probably wondering how to keep your employment until your license is reinstated, right?

For many people in rural and even urban areas, public transit is not available enough to provide a reliable mode of transportation. The good news is that drivers with suspended licenses may be eligible for limited driving privileges while waiting for them to be reinstated. A Georgia hardship license permits those who have had their licenses suspended to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and other necessary places.

How to Get a Georgia Hardship License Permit

Not all Georgia drivers with suspended licenses are eligible for the program. You are only eligible if your license has been suspended for a first conviction, a first or second DUI conviction, or a first or second points suspension. Keep in mind that you’ll have to demonstrate to the court that your life will be dramatically impaired without a driver’s license. You will need to prove that you aren’t able to do things like getting to work or school, attend medical appointments, retrieve needed medication from the pharmacy, or that you won’t be able to attend a court-ordered program.

You will need to apply for your hardship license through your county’s law enforcement or government website. You will be required to provide personal information (name, DOB, address, driver’s license number, and reason for the request.) There is also a fee that will need to be paid.

If your application is initially denied, there is an appeal process. You will need to request the appeal through the Georiga Department of Driver Services, and it will take roughly 30 days for a hearing.

Those granted a hardship license can lose them for violating traffic laws and other such conditions.

Denied the Hardship License?

If you are denied the hardship license, life will take a bit more planning. For instance, you will need to find family or friends that can give you a ride, learn about public transportation schedules, or even purchase a bicycle. Leaving things like purchasing groceries to the last minute may not be an option anymore.

Please call us toll free at 866-214-7036 or fill out the contact form on our website. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.

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