Misdemeanor Convictions in Georgia
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Under Georgia criminal law, crimes are classified into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Of the two, felony crimes are the more serious ones and punishable with prison terms exceeding one year. Misdemeanors on the other hand are the less serious of the two and cause little or no physical harm or property damage. Misdemeanor crimes in Georgia are punishable with a jail term that can extend up to one year and/or fines and community service. Misdemeanor crimes are further sub-divided into different classes (e.g., Class A, B, C, etc), according to the seriousness of the crime. Of these different classifications, Class A is the most serious and carries the longest jail terms and highest fines.
In Georgia, a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime can get good time credit while serving time in jail. In fact most jails require persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes to serve only half the sentence. The fines for a misdemeanor crime in Georgia can be up to $1000. The fine for minor misdemeanor offenses in Georgia is $300.
Under Georgia law, a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature carries a penalty of a 12 month jail term. The maximum good time credit for such an offense is 4 days per month. That means the person must serve 26 days in jail for a 30 day month. The fines for such misdemeanor offenses in Georgia can be as high as $5000.
Like with any other crime in Georgia, the criminal process begins with the arrest. If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Georgia, contact an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney immediately. In Georgia, you will be produced before a court within 72 hours of your arrest. This is referred to as the arraignment. During the arraignment, the court will read out the charges against you and you will be asked to enter your plea. You have three options – guilty, not guilty or no contest. You can also remain silent. If you choose to remain silent the court will enter a not guilty plea.
You should never enter a guilty plea. It will result in you being convicted for the offense. If you enter a not guilty plea, the prosecution will have to prove that you committed the offense that you have been charged with. Remember, in Georgia, the defendant in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proven guilty. So the prosecution bears the burden of proof. In a non-contest plea, the court will decide the charge based on the evidence the prosecution presents the court.
A misdemeanor conviction will result in you having a criminal record. Once you have a criminal record, it can alter your life forever. If you are convicted of another crime in the future, your criminal record will influence the sentencing. The judge can impose an enhanced sentence on you because of your criminal record.
In Georgia if convicted for a misdemeanor offense, you can be asked to restitute the victim. Depending on the crime, you may even lose your right to possess a firearm. You can be debarred from holding certain jobs.