What to do First

If you, a family member, or someone you know and care about has been arrested in Georgia, you need accurate information to help you make informed decisions right now. If a family member or someone you care about is in jail, read the rest of this page.

Georgia crimes are divided into three classifications.  The first type of Georgia criminal offense is a citation. A citation is punishable by a fine only. Traffic violations, such as speeding tickets or running a red light are examples of citations. Other types of citations are failing to register a dangerous or vicious dog. If the fine is not paid in the specified time or a person doesn’t appear by the specified date, a misdemeanor warrant may be issued or action may be taken against your driver’s license.

The second type of Georgia crime is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine and or imprisonment in the county jail up to one year or both a fine and imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year. The most commonly charged misdemeanor in Georgia is driving under the influence. It is one example of a Georgia misdemeanor offense which is punishable by both fine and imprisonment in the county jail.

The the third type of Georgia criminal offense is a felony. Georgia felony offenses are punishable by imprisonment in the county jail or state prison. However, just because a person is arrested or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense does not mean that they will be sent to the county jail or state prison. Being represented by a qualified criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between winning a case or minimizing the impact of a criminal conviction.

Not a U.S. Citizen?

Additionally, if a person is not a citizen of the United States, conviction of a criminal offense involving violence creates the risk of deportation, denial of naturalization, exclusion from admission or readmission to the United States, denial of the issuance or extension of an H-1B Visa which allows non-United States citizens to work in this country, or denial of an upgrade of status with the immigration authorities.

This office represents clients who have been arrested anywhere in the Northern California Bay Area counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa,  Marin, Napa,  San Mateo, Santa Clara, or Sonoma. Please read the material in this website which are applicable to your or the situation of the person you are trying to help, then seriously consider calling this office to discuss the matter in confidence with an attorney who specializes in California criminal defense cases.

Release Following Arrest


If you have a loved one who has been arrested by the police in Georgia, you will want to arrange for their release from jail. There are basically two forms of release following an arrest. The first type of release is bail. For a person to be released from jail on bail, it is necessary to either secure the services of a bail bond agent or pay the full amount of bail with cash or a cash equivalent to the Superior Court. A bail bond agent receives a fee for posting a bond. The typical fee a bail bond agent is paid for bail is ten percent. However, Thomas Westbury’s office has developed relationships with Georgia bail bond agents often enabling his clients to obtain bail at a significant discount and with terms which makes bail attainable for more people.

The fee bail bond companies charge is not refundable. Alternately a defendant can post cash bail that is fully refundable, after the criminal case is concluded. If a lawyer files a bail motion the court may reduce bail. It takes at least two days to get a court date for a bail motion. Friends, employers or family members who post bail for a defendant who fails to appear for court may be civilly liable for the entire amount of the bail.

Own Recognizance (OR) Release

If a person is not bailed out of jail, they will be taken to court to be Arraigned within two court days of their arrest. Arraignment can be delayed if the arrest takes place on a weekend or holiday. At the Arraignment, the issue of pretrial release will be discussed. It is critical that the accused be represented by a qualified lawyer with specialized experience handling criminal cases at the Arraignment in order to maximize the likelihood of securing their own recognizance release on the best possible terms.

Prosecutors typically oppose a defendant’s pretrial release from custody or seek high bail or conditions even when the incident the defendant is charged with happened months or more before their arrest and the defendant has been out of custody without their being any prior incidents between the accused and the accuser. Prosecutors frequently argue that the accused should stay in jail because they might reoffend. Judges often refuse to release a defendant pending trial because they are concerned that the accused will have future incidents.

Supervised Own Recognizance (SOR) Release

Supervised Own Recognizance release or SOR is often imposed as a condition of Pretrial release in criminal cases where the court has concerns about the accused returning to court or reoffending while out of custody.

The police usually book the people they arrest on the most serious charges in criminal cases. This usually means a felony arrest on the accused’s arrest record. Statutory felony bail is much higher than misdemeanor bail. In many cases the district attorney will file misdemeanor rather than felony charges. This results in a substantial decrease in the bail amount. However, the accused will have to spend time in jail until the district attorney actually charges the case. A defendant who stays in jail until Arraignment, usually within three days, can ask the court to reduce the bail or release them on their own recognizance without posting bail. Defendants who have warrants from other counties or who are non-citizens may have an immigration hold imposed by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and may not be eligible for release on bail.

In many cases defendants who have no money to post bail stay in jail on a no time waiver basis for over 30 days, only to have the charges dismissed on the day of trial. In criminal cases the right to a speedy trial is within 30 days of arraignment for a misdemeanor charge.

A defendant who posts bail may be obligated to attend a treatment program while their case is pending. If the defendant makes any admissions about his or her case in the group counseling sessions, his or her group leader may inform the prosecuting district attorney, in spite of the patient/client privilege.

Experienced Georgia Lawyer

The stakes are high in a California criminal case. Any criminal conviction in Georgia may result in jail, large fines, mandatory counseling, mandatory alcohol education classes, personal conduct orders, stay away orders, and other punishment. For that reason, it is critical that that a person charged with a crime have only a qualified criminal defense lawyer to handling the case from the earliest possible moment.

Thomas Westbury is recognized as being among the top criminal defense lawyers in Georgia and represents clients in Georgia criminal cases. Attorneys, investigators and experts working with this law office represent clients in all criminal courts located in Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Hall, Bibb, Clayton, Coweta, Henry, Rockdale and surrounding counties.

Office Locations and Areas We Serve

Mr. Westbury represents clients who have been arrested in all counties as well as other cities throughout Georgia and can meet clients at one of several office locations in the Atlanta area.