A Split Second Decision: Misdemeanors in Georgia

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Your nineteen-year-old son has always been a good kid. He’s never been in any serious trouble. Maybe a time or two, in high school, he was sent to detention for not paying attention in class. That’s because he was drawing in his favorite sketchbook. He’s an artist and you’ve always nurtured his creativity. Undecided about college, he opted to take classes at the local community college for graphic design. He loves it! However, lately, you’ve been worried about the company he’s been keeping. He’s made some new friends. They are “artsy” just like him and passionate about their artwork. But, they are into the graffiti and street art subculture and have almost gotten caught by the police spray painting their artwork under bridges and on over passes across the city. You warned your son about the trouble he can get into if he’s ever caught engaging in such conduct himself. He didn’t listen.

Engrossed in “tagging” their artwork under a bridge one night, your son and his friends are suddenly surprised by the siren and flashing lights of a police cruiser. They’ve been caught! Your son has two decisions: stay put and face the consequences or run and face the consequences if he is chased down and arrested. The decision your son makes will make the difference as to whether he is charged with a low misdemeanor or a high and aggravated misdemeanor.

First, what’s a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a considered a low-level crime punishable by a fine and/or jail time up to one year. In contrast, a felony is a more serious offense that is punishable by imprisonment greater than one year and time is usually served in a prison facility as opposed to the county jail. What many people don’t know is that there are differences in the degree of severity among misdemeanor offenses alone—commonly known as high and low misdemeanors. Most states categorize misdemeanors into different classes (Class A, B, C, etc.). Georgia, however, distinguishes its’ misdemeanors into: (1) misdemeanors; and, (2) high and aggravated misdemeanors.

If your son stays…

If your son stays put and is subsequently arrested by the police officer, it is a good chance that he would only be charged with vandalism. Which, in Georgia, is a misdemeanor along with such offenses as simple assault, simple battery, petty theft, public intoxication and trespassing. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in county jail. It is up to the court’s discretion whether or not to simply fine the defendant, impose a sentence term/probation or both. (O.C.G.A. 17-10-3).

If your son runs…

If your son decides to flee the scene and is eventually caught and arrested, it is a good chance that he would then be charged with fleeing or eluding a police officer. Which—along with offenses such as aggressive driving, battery against a pregnant women or person over the age of 65—is categorized as a misdemeanor offense of a high and aggravated nature. Misdemeanors offenses of a high and aggravated nature are punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and/or up to one year in county jail. Again, it is up to the court’s discretion as to the sentence imposed for defendants convicted of this category of misdemeanors. (O.C.G.A. 17-10-4). Further, misdemeanors can be upgraded to high and aggravated misdemeanors for defendants who are repeat offenders.

Whether your son stays or runs, call Bixon Law…

Your son decided to run! Unfortunately, he tripped and fell over a rock. He was arrested and now faces a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Although not guaranteed, the court could decide to impose probation and lesser fine. We can’t predict the decision a judge will make, but we can guarantee that we will roll up our sleeves and fiercely advocate on your behalf. We know that the thought of jail time, whether less than a year or more along with a harsh fine, can seriously disrupt you and your family’s life.

At Bixon Law, we work cases with our client’s future in mind. We are passionate about keeping our clients informed about the law and diligently work on their behalf to resolve their case with the best possible outcome. If you or a loved one has been charged with any misdemeanor offense in Georgia, please call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.


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