Our Criminal Defense FAQs
If you were charged with a crime, your mind may be racing with questions about your rights, options, and future. Find the answers you need. Browse our FAQs section for answers to common criminal defense queries.
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What mistakes should I avoid when facing misdemeanor charges in Georgia?
Getting arrested and facing criminal charges in the Peach State can be a frightening and confusing experience, especially if it's your first serious brush with law enforcement. Not knowing what to do—or what to expect from the criminal justice system and its major players (police, prosecutors, etc.)—is understandable. Unfortunately, when it comes to Georgia criminal cases, what you don't know can hurt you.
If you don't know the relevant legal statutes inside and out, it's easy to make errors that are detrimental to your case. Hiring a highly-skilled Atlanta criminal law attorney to build a strong defense and represent your interests can help you avoid potentially harmful missteps.
Not Hiring a Lawyer Is One of the Biggest Mistakes
Not hiring a lawyer—or waiting too long to hire defense representation—is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a criminal case. Involving an attorney in your case from the very beginning is essential to protecting your rights and future.
Without legal counsel, you might be tempted to make one of the most significant errors you can make as a defendant: giving up your right to remain silent. Asserting this right is vital, as anything you say can—and will—be used against you in court. Think coming clean or explaining your innocence to law enforcement will help your situation? It won't. Ask for an attorney, then stop talking.
Once you have a lawyer, that should be the only person you talk to about your case. Conversations between you and your attorney are privileged; conversations between you, your friends, or (even worse) other people involved in the alleged crime can be used against you. Avoid posting about your case on social media for similar reasons.
Skilled Defense for Georgia Misdemeanors
Let Rechtman & Spevak's experienced and skillful defense attorney protect your rights and guide you through each and every step of Georgia's intimidating criminal court process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
My teen is facing a Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge; can you help?
Yes. If your teen is facing a Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge (also known as a MIP), Rechtman and Spevak's highly-skilled Atlanta defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help protect their rights and future.
The State of Georgia Takes Underage Drinking Seriously
As a result, people under the age of 21 who are caught possessing, purchasing, or attempting to buy alcohol; misrepresenting their age or identity, or using a fake ID to purchase alcohol may be subject to MIP charges. MIP cases for individuals under the age of 17 are often heard in juvenile court.
As a misdemeanor charge, the consequences of a MIP conviction can be significant and may include:
- Fines (up to $300 for the first offense or up to $1,000 for a subsequent conviction)
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Community service or probation
In addition to the potential criminal penalties outlined above, a MIP conviction could also affect your teen's driving privileges, car insurance rates, and educational opportunities. For example, a first offense can result in a six-month license suspension, while a subsequent offense can increase the suspension to up to a full year, and minors whose driving privileges are suspended for MIPs may not be eligible for restricted driving permits that would allow them to drive to work or school. Students convicted of MIPs can face academic disciplinary action and lose eligibility for tuition assistance, scholarships, and sports programs.
Not to worry; things are serious, but we're here to help. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorney will review your teen's case and work to build a strong defense.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case With Our Accomplished Defense Attorney
Don't let a MIP charge or conviction limit your teen's opportunities now or in the future. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses.
Can I get a misdemeanor expunged in Georgia?
Potentially. State law allows some individuals to have certain charges or convictions expunged—or restricted—from their criminal records. This means that, while they'll still be visible to members of law enforcement and others in the judicial system, they won't come up in an employment, housing, or licensing background check. Here's what you need to know about record restriction eligibility, as well as the process, and how our skilled Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you through it.
Do you and your case meet the criteria for record restriction? In the Peach State, you may be able to have a misdemeanor expunged if:
- You were charged, but not convicted (charges were dropped, dismissed, or you were acquitted at trial)
- You were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, first-time drug possession charges
- You successfully completed probation or a pretrial intervention program
However, there are numerous exceptions. It's important to discuss your case and record expungement eligibility with a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer. Your attorney can also help you determine if your record qualifies for automatic restriction (sometimes after a specified time period) or if you'll have to file an action in superior court.
There's Too Much at Stake to Go it Alone
Regardless of whether you made a mistake that landed you on the wrong side of the law or law enforcement had the wrong person in their sights, having an arrest, criminal charge, or conviction on your record can limit your opportunities and be downright embarrassing. Sound familiar? Fortunately, Rechtman and Spevak is here to help you wipe the slate clean. If you're ready to talk about your case, learn your rights, and discuss your options for record restriction, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation with our lead defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz. We look forward to hearing from you and find out how we can assist you.
What should I do if I'm arrested for a crime?
Being arrested for a crime can be frightening, confusing, and even traumatizing—especially if it's your first serious interaction with law enforcement. What you do during and after an arrest plays a major role in determining what comes next. Protecting and asserting your rights from the beginning is essential. Here's what you can do and how a skilled Georgia defense attorney can help.
If you're under arrest, stay calm and go with the arresting officer, even if you aren't guilty of the crime you're being arrested for. Take care to avoid doing anything that could be construed as obstructing or hindering the officer, as this could result in charges of resisting arrest.
However, while you should never resist an officer, you should absolutely resist the urge to explain yourself or the situation to them, as anything and everything you tell them can be used against you in court.
You've probably heard the Miranda warning—which apprises arrestees of their rights to remain silent and have an attorney—countless times on television in police procedural dramas. This isn't just a tactic writers use to make episodes more interesting; they're real rights that you should assert the second you're placed under arrest.
You also have the right to a local phone call, which should be to an attorney or someone who can help you secure the defense representation you need. However, be careful not to share the details of your case with anyone other than your lawyer.
Keep in mind that being arrested doesn't necessarily mean you'll be charged with a crime. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible allows them to contact the prosecutor with mitigating information in the hopes of having any potential charges reduced or dismissed, or getting you approved for a pretrial intervention program.
Additionally, if you secure a defense attorney immediately after your arrest, they'll be able to represent you during your first appearance hearing. This is vital, as numerous crucial decisions are made at this time, including whether there will be bond and, if so, the amount and terms of release.
Arrested for a Misdemeanor in Georgia? We Can Help Protect Your Rights and Future
Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a consultation with our highly-skilled criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz. We look forward to discussing your case and how we can help.
I've been charged with shoplifting. What penalties am I facing?
Shoplifting is taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. In Georgia, theft by shoplifting is a serious crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods, and whether this is a first or subsequent offense. Regardless, you'll need the representation of a skilled attorney if you hope to avoid harsh potential penalties.
You can be charged with theft by shoplifting in Georgia for:
- Concealing or taking merchandise from a store
- Altering price tags or other price markings
- Transferring a store's merchandise from one container to another
- Changing labels or price tags between pieces of merchandise
- Causing merchandise to be sold for an amount other than the store's stated price
If this is your first shoplifting offense and the value of the property involved in your case is less than $500, you'll likely be charged with a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you could spend up to a year in jail, and/or face a fine of up to $1,000.
The possible penalties for theft by shoplifting grow more severe with each subsequent offense. A second misdemeanor shoplifting conviction carries an additional fine of $500 or more.
The consequences for a third misdemeanor shoplifting conviction are particularly harsh and include:
- A minimum of 30 days in jail or up to 120 days on house arrest or in an alternative correctional program
- Psychology counseling and treatment at your expense
Fourth or subsequent shoplifting convictions are felonies punishable by between 1 and 10 years in prison.
Don't Let a Mistake or Misunderstanding Destroy Your Future
Shoplifting charges are no laughing matter. If you are convicted, you could be forced to pay steep fines, spend time in jail or prison, undergo psychological evaluation and treatment, and suffer limited employment opportunities.
Let Rechtman & Spevak's talented criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, handle your defense and protect your future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss the details of your case, as well as whether you qualify for participation in a pretrial diversionary program.
I've been charged with shoplifting. Could I benefit from a pretrial intervention program?
Yes. If this is your first time being charged with a crime—or you've been previously charged and convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses—a pretrial intervention program could minimize the damage a shoplifting charge or conviction could have on your future.
In Georgia, the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which is also known as the Pretrial Diversion Program, allows you to avoid going to trial in exchange for paying fines, doing community service, and meeting other conditions.
If you complete the diversion program successfully, the shoplifting charges are dropped and won't appear on your record—although it will still show up in searches conducted by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges. You won't have to worry about the cost and pitfalls of a trial, or having to explain a criminal record during a job interview.
While completing a PTI can be extremely beneficial if you're facing charges for shoplifting, most criminal defendants don't know about them—and most prosecutors aren't going to tell them. You need a knowledgeable, experienced, and trial-savvy criminal defense attorney to review your case, determine if you're eligible for a pretrial program, and then help you apply to participate in one.
A skilled defense attorney can also help you understand and comply with the terms of your program. This is absolutely vital to your case, as failure to successfully complete a diversion program gives the prosecutor a green light to move forward with the original charges against you.
Consult Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Made a mistake or found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? A shoplifting charge shouldn't have to destroy your future. Participating in a pretrial program may be the best way to mitigate potential consequences of this unfortunate incident. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to discuss your case with our top-notch defense lawyer, Dantel D. Ruiz.
What consequences could I face if I'm convicted of a domestic violence charge in Georgia?
Family violence crimes are considered serious offenses in the Peach State. As a result, if you're charged with committing certain criminal acts against protected family or household members, you could face significant, wide-ranging, and long-lasting consequences upon conviction.
In Georgia, crimes like simple battery, battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, and other felonies can be charged as domestic violence offenses when committed between:
- Current or former spouses
- Parents and children
- Parents who share a child
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Other current or former household members
Penalties for Georgia domestic violence convictions may include:
- Fines of up to several thousand dollars, depending on whether it's a first or subsequent offense
- Jail time of one year for an initial offense, or up to five years in prison for subsequent offenses, which are considered felonies
You could also face:
- Loss of parental rights. A domestic violence conviction could count against you in a future custody proceeding, or result in your parenting time being reduced or supervised.
- Employment issues. Having a domestic violence conviction on your record can severely limit your future employment opportunities.
- Loss of gun rights. Under federal law, a domestic violence conviction may prohibit you from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition.
Being convicted of a family violence charge can negatively impact nearly every aspect of your personal and professional life. Additionally, criminal penalties for domestic violence convictions are often much harsher than those imposed in cases where similar crimes were committed by individuals who didn't have a familial or domestic relationship with the victim. Even worse, the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction can continue to haunt you long after your sentence is complete. Fortunately, a strong criminal defense can help protect your future.
Schedule a Consultation
There's far too much at stake to go it alone. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz.
I've been charged with a misdemeanor. How can you help me?
Misdemeanors won't send you to prison, but they can still lead to significant consequences such as fines, jail time, and stringent probation requirements.
When you're facing misdemeanor charges in Georgia, you need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney who has a strong grasp of the relevant legal statutes, as well as a keen understanding of jurisdictional “unwritten rules” such as knowing which prosecutors are most amenable to plea agreements,
and which judges allow work release or weekend jail.
There's a lot a skilled attorney can do for you. In short, defense attorneys examine cases to identify unique elements; develop and present strong arguments against conviction; and help clients navigate the criminal justice system. They also present mitigating information to reduce fines, jail time, and other penalties in case of conviction.
Here are just a few of the many things our adept Atlanta defense attorney can do when you hire Rechtman & Spevak to represent you:
- Investigate the case, including gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses
- Assess the prosecutor's case against you
- Review your criminal history (if any), and work to understand your personal situation and goals for the case
- Assess the potential sentences you're facing
- Explore your eligibility for special courts or sentencing programs
- Review police reports, as well as dash cam and body cam videos
- Review search and seizure procedures
- Question the way your arrest was made
- Challenge the evidence chain of custody or reliability of a breathalyzer test (older models may have higher fail rates)
- Negotiate reduced charges or a plea deal
- Negotiate reduced bail and more reasonable release conditions
- Negotiate reduced sentences
Consult a Seasoned Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
If you're facing probation, fines, or jail time, you need an attorney who's familiar with Georgia's criminal statutes and court process to advocate for you each and every step of the way. Fortunately, you've come to the right firm. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to find out what we can do for you and your case.
What is Georgia's marijuana-specific first offender statute and how might it apply to my misdemeanor drug possession case?
The Georgia First Offenders Act (FOA) allows individuals charged with certain crimes to plead guilty or no contest, and have the offense removed from their official criminal record after they've successfully completed their sentence. Sentences in these cases may include probation, fees, jail time, or a combination thereof. If you've never been convicted of a felony in any state or sentenced as a first offender, you may be eligible for sentencing under the FOA.
Additionally, if you're a first-time offender who's charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, you may qualify for a conditional discharge. Like sentencing under the FOA, a conditional discharge makes it possible for your charges to be dismissed once you've completed your sentence—which in this case may include probation, fines, community service, drug screenings, and risk reduction courses.
However, inclusion in Georgia's alternative plea and sentencing programs isn't automatic. You need a skilled Atlanta defense attorney to:
- Convince the judge that you qualify.
- Determine whether you should ask to be sentenced as a first offender or request a conditional discharge.
- Help ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of your sentence.
Requests for FOA sentencing or conditional discharge are made early in the case process—before you enter a plea—and granted at the judge's discretion. Denials can't be appealed. Having a knowledgeable attorney with a firm grasp of the relevant laws and the specific facts of your case is absolutely essential.
A capable defense attorney can also help make sure that you don't waste your opportunity for FOA sentencing on a misdemeanor drug crime when asking for conditional discharge may be more appropriate and beneficial. They can also advise you on how to comply with the terms of your sentence to avoid the risk of having your alternative plea revoked.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney
Find out how Rechtman & Spevak's seasoned criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.