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Roswell Georgia Criminal Law Blog

How government shutdowns affect women's shelters

A government shutdown is looming unless lawmakers can reach a deal that includes a temporary spending measure. This is of concern to many individuals, including those seeking protection at domestic violence shelters. Some domestic violence shelters in Georgia and around the country are funded by the federal government. Some are still reeling from the loss of funding that came during the shutdown earlier in 2019.

Although the government reopened in February 2019, there is little assurance that there won't be another shutdown in the future. President Trump was clear when he said that he would not rule out the possibility of there being another shutdown. From his administration's perspective, shutting down the government is a tool that could be used to get funding for the border wall.

Programs use alternatives to incarceration for violent crimes

The FIRST STEP Act, which became a law in 2018, may affect some federal prisoners in Georgia who were convicted of nonviolent crimes, but a large portion of the prison population will not benefit from this reform. However, some jurisdictions are working to introduce alternatives to incarceration, even for people who have committed violent crimes, with some success.

While it is important to prioritize public safety, some crimes that are classified as violent, such as simple assault, may not involve physical harm to another person. Furthermore, long prison sentences may increase recidivism in some cases while some alternative programs have been shown to reduce it. Not all violent offenders go on to commit another crime.

The true impact of low-level charges

Georgia residents who are charged with a misdemeanor could face jail time or a fine. However, for some defendants, it can be difficult to pay fines and other costs associated with going through the criminal justice system. A lack of financial resources can also influence how their cases play out. This is because they may not have the money needed to pay bail, which means that it could be several days spent in jail before seeing a judge.

Those who cannot pay fines or other fees could be sentenced to jail time, which could result in additional financial penalties. To some, these fines are considered to be a regressive tax on the poor. A lack of funds could also mean using a public defender instead of hiring an attorney. With 13 million misdemeanor cases in the United States each year, public defenders are often pressured to not file motions or take other steps to help clients.

Can the First Offender Act benefit me?

Having a criminal record can limit housing and job opportunities, making it difficult to put the past behind you. However, if you are a first-time offender, you may be able to be sentenced under the First Offender Act. Then, if you successfully complete your sentence and probation, a conviction or charge will not appear on your record.

This act can offer an opportunity for a fresh start after a mistake. Without a conviction or charge on record, it is easier to get quality jobs and housing. However, for this act to benefit you, you must meet the eligibility requirements.

Man faces drug charges after probation-office arrest

A 25-year-old Georgia man is facing drug charges after he was taken into custody by the state's probation office. The Milledgeville man had gone to the probation office in order to check in at a scheduled meeting with his probation officer. Before being allowed to enter the meeting, he was searched for the presence of weapons. Even though no weapons were discovered, the probation officer later ordered the man to turn out the pockets of his pants. During that time, the officer said that he noticed a small plastic packet containing a white powder.

The probation officer reportedly grabbed the baggie from the man and questioned him about its contents. According to police, the man immediately admitted that the bag contained cocaine. After confiscating the bag, sheriff's deputies arrested the man, taking him to the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center where he was jailed. The man is now facing drug charges, accused of possession of cocaine in violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. It was not reported why the man was initially on probation or if this was also related to drug allegations.

Sentencing reform bill moves forward in Senate

Many people in Georgia are tracking the progress of the First Step Act, proposed federal legislation for criminal justice reform that is backed by an unusual array of supporters from across the political spectrum. The U.S. Senate voted 82-12 to advance the revised legislation that would lead to a sentence reduction for some federal prisoners if adopted. The proposed bill is supported by President Donald Trump as well as prominent Democratic senators like Cory Booker as well as the American Civil Liberties Union. While the Senate's Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, had expressed opposition, he allowed the introductory vote to take place.

The legislation, if passed, would direct the creation of a new system to assess risks, providing prisoners with credits against time served by participating in activities like training, education or work. The bill argues that increasing participation in these types of programs could assist with prisoner rehabilitation. The legislation would only apply to federal prisoners, who make up less than 10 percent of the over 2 million Americans currently incarcerated.

Woman sues after drug test misidentifies cotton candy as meth

A Georgia woman has filed a lawsuit against Monroe County authorities after deputies wrongly identified a bag of cotton candy as methamphetamine and arrested her on drug charges. She spent months behind bars as a result of the error.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for an alleged window tint violation on Dec. 31, 2016. After executing the stop, the officers realized that the windows were actually legal. However, they determined that both the car's driver and the plaintiff had suspended licenses. The officers then conducted a search of the vehicle and located a plastic bag filled with a blue, crystallized substance. The plaintiff said the substance was cotton candy, but the officers performed a roadside drug test, which came back positive as methamphetamine.

Proposed bill could change some criminal justice laws

People dealing with the federal justice system in Georgia may be intrigued by reports about the First Step Act. The criminal justice reform legislation is backed by an unexpected alliance that includes President Donald Trump along with longtime reform advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill, widely understood as a compromise proposal, has been criticized for failing to take on serious reform measures as well as being soft on crime. For people who may be affected by its provisions, however, it can be important to understand the bill.

One of the most immediate effects of the bill could be felt by people serving time for federal crack cocaine convictions that predate 2010. In that year, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act to address the massive disparity in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine offenses, a disparity that seriously affected African American defendants. However, the reform was not retroactive, and people with prior sentences were not affected. If the First Step Act passes, people with these older convictions could petition a judge for release.

Georgia police arrest man for making drug that looked like candy

A narcotics investigation that culminated in the search of a Georgia home prompted police to warn local parents about dangerous illegal drugs made to look like Halloween candy. The Oct. 22 Facebook post from the Dublin Police Department came after officers took a local resident into custody on drug possession and distribution charges. Officers say that they recovered methamphetamine pills during a search of the man's West Avenue residence that were almost identical in appearance to popular children's candies and vitamin pills.

The chain of events began at approximately 10:50 a.m. on Oct. 19 when Dublin Police Department officers and a K9 unit from the Georgia Department of Corrections arrived at the man's home to execute a search warrant. Initial reports did not indicate what led police to believe that the man was selling drugs or describe the nature of the evidence supporting their search warrant application. In addition to the pills allegedly containing methamphetamine, police are said to have discovered an undisclosed quantity of marijuana and several items of drug paraphernalia during the search.

What you should do if pulled over for DUI suspicion

Being pulled over with the flashing lights of a police car behind you can be a stressful situation to be in. How to handle yourself can be extremely important. You may be presented with several circumstances where knowing your rights can help you. Since being prepared can be an advantage, here are some things to keep in mind that can protect you if you are pulled over and the officer suspects DUI.

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