Criminal law encompasses issues arising from a criminal offense. Criminal offenses are defined by federal, state, or local laws and can range from serious crimes like murder to minor infractions like speeding. Criminal punishments, also established by statutory law, are usually proportional to the severity of the crime. Minor offenses may only be punishable by a fine or a short term of probation. Violent felonies could result in years in prison, life sentences, or even the death penalty, depending on the circumstances and the jurisdiction.
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all criminal defendants the right to be represented by an attorney. In cases where a defendant may face prison or jail time, the U.S. Constitution requires the state to provide the defendant with legal representation if he or she cannot afford it. In lesser cases, such as traffic tickets, defendants have the right to an attorney but must pay for one themselves.
Criminal proceedings can be extremely complex, especially when involving multiple charges and multiple defendants. Anytime you are charged with a crime, especially a felony, legal representation is a wise choice. If you are facing criminal charges, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights and to build your best defense.
VGCSA - Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act
Assault - An attempt to injure to someone else, and in some circumstances can include threats or threatening behavior against others.
Rape - Non-consensual sexual intercourse that is committed by physical force, threat of injury, or other duress.
Homicide - Not all homicides are crimes. Homicides include all killings of humans. Many homicides, such as murder and manslaughter, violate criminal laws. Others, such as a killing committed in justified self-defense, are not criminal. Illegal killings range from manslaughter to murder, with multiple degrees of each representing the gravity of the crime.
DUI - Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or other impairing drugs is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Also known as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Probation Revocation - If you are found guilty of probation violation, sentencing will occur shortly after the probation hearing, at which time the court may extend your probation, impose additional probation terms, order you serve a brief time in jail, or revoke your probation altogether and require you to serve out any remaining time of your original sentence in prison.
Charge - A formal allegation of criminal wrongdoing.
Indictment - A formal charge authorized by a grand jury.
Arraignment - A pretrial proceeding in which a person accused of committing a crime is brought into court, informed of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
Felony - A serious crime punishable by more than a year in prison.
Misdemeanor - A crime with a punishment less severe than a felony; usually punishable by less than a year in jail.
Infraction - A minor offense or administrative violation usually punishable only by a fine.
Reasonable doubt - A defendant can only be convicted if the jury believes the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; the highest burden of proof in our legal system.
Plea bargain - The process by which a defendant and prosecutor negotiate a compromise; the defendant typically pleads guilty to one or more offenses in exchange for a lighter sentence or dismissal of other pending charges.
Miranda rights - The rights that an arresting officer must advise a suspect of before the suspect is questioned by police; Miranda rights consist of the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present during any police questioning, and to have an attorney provided by the state at no expense if the suspect can't afford one.
Family law is a practice area concerned with legal issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, divorce, and child custody. Attorneys practicing family law typically handle divorce, child custody, child support, and other related legal matters. Some family law attorneys specialize in adoption, paternity, emancipation, or other matters usually not related to divorce. States have the right to determine "reasonable formal requirements" for marriage, including age and legal capacity. Likewise, state laws govern the various rules and procedures for divorce and other family law matters.
Divorce - The legal termination of a marriage relationship.
Child Custody - When parents divorce, the divorce decree will specify with whom the divorcing couple's children will live (and circumstances under which the other parent will visit with the children). Often, parents work out these arrangements between themselves, either completely voluntarily or with the assistance of their attorneys or a mediator. When they are unable to reach a decision, however, or when unmarried parents are unable to agree on who will have custody of their child, the court may intervene and make a decision based on the child's best interests.
Child Support and Modification - Non-custodial parents are required by law to pay a monthly allowance, or child support, to help the custodial parent cover their child's expenses. An order of child support may follow a divorce or a determination of paternity. A court of law usually determines the payments, based on the income level of the other parent. Stiff fines and even jail time can be imposed for a parent failing to keep up payment. Once a child support order or agreement is in place, the payment amount may be increased or decreased under certain circumstances. If a parent's earning ability or a child's financial needs have changed - that could conceivably be enough to trigger a modification.
Emancipation - A court process through which a minor becomes self-supporting, assumes adult responsibility for his or her welfare, and is no longer under the care of his or her parents.
Marital Property - Property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage that is subject to division upon divorce.
Alimony - An allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce.
Paternity - Origin or descent from a father (to establish paternity is to confirm the identity of a child's biological father).
Prenuptial Agreement - An agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other's property in the event of a divorce or death.
Personal injury suits concern anytime a person or a business hurts someone else. This can include injuries like slipping and falling in a store parking lot, product liability suits, medical malpractice, car accidents, and many other types of injuries.
Personal injury defense attorneys specialize in defending people and businesses when someone claims they were hurt by that person. They can review the case, determine whether the person is actually liable for the injuries, evaluate the extent of the damage, file important court documents, and advise their clients on whether it is better to settle or go to court.
Plaintiff - The person or entity who initiates a lawsuit.
Defendant - The person or entity a plaintiff sues.
Claim - A request sent to an insurance company for benefits.
Damages - The money the plaintiff wants to recover in the lawsuit. Damages can cover a wide variety of bills, including medical bills and property damage.
Settlement - A sum of money the plaintiff accepts instead of going to court.