CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON

Assault/Battery

An assault is the illegal infliction, at attempted infliction, of harm upon another person. A person convicted of assault may face up to six months in jail and a fine, but sentencing will vary depending on the circumstances. For example. more serious consequences are likely if the assault occurs on school property or a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician is assaulted.

Battery is the unlawful use of force or violence upon another person and can result in up to six months in jail and a fine. If a battery is committed against an officer or other official, or the harm to the victim is severe, the perpetrator may face up to four years in prison and an additional fine.

Child Sexual Assault/Child Molestation

Engaging in sexual activities with a child or in a child’s presence is against the law. Illegal activity can include sexual stimulation of the child, masturbating in front of a child, and intentional touching of a child’s private parts. The creation of child pornography and any form of sexual penetration of a child is also illegal. Punishments for child sexual assault and child molestation vary depending on the charged conduct and the severity of the offense.

Criminal Threats

A person makes a criminal threat by threatening a violent crime which would result in death or great bodily injury. A terrorist threat is the threat of a violent crime with the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing public panic or inconvenience. Punishments vary depending on the severity of the threats.

·  Domestic Violence

It is against the law to commit an act of violence against a member of your household.

·  Elder Abuse

Elder abuse typically occurs in the form of sexual abuse, neglect or sexual abuse. If you or a loved one has been accused of elder abuse, please call us for a free consultation.

Manslaughter

In general manslaughter is an unpremeditated killing of another person. This offense takes various forms. Voluntary manslaughter, which carries a sentence up to 10 years, typically occurs from a “heat of passion” crime or a killing during a spontaneous fight.

A negligent killing of another person is typically involuntary manslaughter and carries up to a four year prison term. Vehicular manslaughter occurs when person negligently kills another while operating a vehicle. The punishment for vehicular manslaughter is more severe.

Murder

In general, murder is the intentional killing of another person. There are two categories of murder: first and second degree. First degree murder includes all murders perpetrated through the use of a destructive device, poison, lying in wait, or other deliberate and willful action. In addition, most deaths which occur during the commission of a felony are considered first degree murder. All other murders are second degree.

The punishment for first degree murder is death, life without parole, or 25 years to life. Second degree murder is punishable by imprisonment for 15 years to life. There are enhancements, however, which can significantly increase a particular sentence.

The Law Offices of Thomas Westbury is highly experienced in handling homicide cases. Please call us for a free consultation at 678-906-5971.

·  Rape

Rape is an assault which consists of having sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Sexual assault crimes may also include forcing another person into sexual acts against their will. Rape can also occur when a sexual act occurs with a person unable to give consent, such as a person with a mental disability or who is unconscious. In Georgia, rape carries a sentence of up to 8 years and possibly longer if special circumstances are present.

Statutory rape is defined as having sex with a person, other than a spouse, who is under 18 years of age. However, if a person engages in sex with a person less than three years younger they may be charged with a misdemeanor.

Robbery

Robbery is defined as taking another person's property against his or her will by force or fear. The difference between robbery and theft/burglary is that robbery includes the use of force or fear. First degree robbery charges are commonly brought when a robbery occurs at or near an ATM, inside vehicles or in an occupied house. Second degree robbery consists of all other robberies.

A defendant will face first-degree robbery charges if a robbery occurs inside vehicles, buses, trains, taxi and other motor vehicles as well as occupied houses and boats.

First-degree robbery carries a possible sentence of up to nine years in prison while second degree has a possible sentence of up to five years.

Stalking

Under Georgia law, stalking occurs when a person willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person. The crime of stalking may also involve threats which place a person in fear of his/her safety. A restraining order is commonly sought when a person is accused of stalking. A related crime is cyber-stalking, where a person is stalked online.

Depending on the details of a particular case, a person convicted of stalking may receive a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Vehicular Manslaughter

If a death occurs due to drunk driving, reckless driving, speeding, gross negligence, or a hit and run, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Most people think of “motor vehicles” as cars and trucks, but it can also include boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles.

People charged with vehicular manslaughter may also be charged with other types of manslaughter.

Vehicular Manslaughter is a very serious criminal charge. If you or a loved one have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, you should contact our office right away to discuss the facts and circumstances that surround your case. We can be reached at 678-906-5971.

CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY

Arson

It is against the law to set fire to or somehow cause the burning of a structure, forest land or other property. Arson may be punished by up to six years in prison and a fine. If a person suffers great bodily harm from an arson, it is a felony punishable by up to nine years.

Burglary

The entering of privately owned property, such as a house, vehicle, or shop with the intent to commit theft or another felony is burglary and can carry a six year prison term. The act of entering privately owned property, without committing another felony, is commonly charged as a burglary.

Trespassing

Trespass is generally considered the unwanted intrusion onto someone else’s property. Under Georgia criminal law, it is illegal to enter someone’s land, building, or home without permission.

Furthermore, it is illegal to enter any land with intent to injure property, property rights, or with the intent to interfere, obstruct, or injure any lawful business. Even if no harm is actually done to the property by the trespasser, he or she has still broken the law.

Trespassing is a misdemeanor. Though it may not seem like a serious crime, a trespass conviction will appear on a person’s criminal record.

Contact our office today, and we will begin negotiating with prosecutors to try to get your trespass charge dismissed or reduced to an infraction that will not appear on your criminal record.

Vandalism

Under Georgia law, it is against the law to damage, destroy, or otherwise deface any property. This includes damage done by writing with spray paint, felt tip markers, knives, or other instruments that make marks or impressions. If vandalism is directed at race or religion, it may be classified as a hate crime. Vandalism can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the monetary value of the damage.

Slashing a tire, breaking a window, ripping a bus seat, removing a car’s emblem, toppling a headstone, and carving your initial into a desk can all be considered vandalism; however, vandalism is not limited to property damage and can also include the following crimes:

• Possession of aerosol paint under the age of 18
• Possession of vandalism tools
• Vandalism to a place of worship (i.e., church or synagogue)
• Vandalism to government property (buildings or vehicles)
• Vandalism using noxious or caustic chemicals

  • ·  DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE/TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

DUI/DWI

Georgia’s basic drunk driving law (GA. Code 40-6-391) makes it is a misdemeanor to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; and it is a misdemeanor to drive if your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.

Drivers licensed to drive in Georgia are required to submit to a “chemical” test, which only means the official chemical breath, blood, or urine test. Drivers are not required to take field sobriety tests but the officer is not required to inform the driver of this right. The officer may request a field sobriety test and if the driver does not object he is deemed to have voluntarily consented to the test.

Under Georgia’s zero tolerance laws, drivers younger than 21 who have a blood alcohol reading of .02 or higher may be charged with a DUI. Owners or drivers of vehicles (including boats, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles) can be charged in violation of the open container law, if law enforcement finds an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.

It is illegal for truckers to operate commercial vehicles if they have a blood alcohol reading higher than .04 percent.

A DUI may subject you to both a criminal court proceeding and a DMV hearing.

It is also important to not the if you work for the government t or apply for a government position and/or have a license from the State of Georgia (i.e., Nurse, Real Estate Agent, Medical doctor, social worker, psychologist, attorney, teacher, etc.), consequences of a DUI conviction can include termination of employment, denial of licensure, suspension, revocation, or probation.

  • ·  DMV hearings

When a person is charged with DUI/DWI, he or she may face two legal proceedings: one in the criminal court; and one with the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV hearing allows the person an opportunity to get their driver’s license back, and to avoid future suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.

Once a person is arrested for DUI, he or she has only ten days to contact the DMV and request a hearing to protest your license suspension. Thus, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately to help get you the best result at the courthouse, and also with the DMV.

The lawyers at Thomas Westbury & Assoc. understand the process of DMV hearings, and know how to move through the process efficiently and effectively. We will keep you updated on your case, answer your questions about the process, and help you protect your driving privileges.

  • ·  Driver’s License Reinstatement

A license suspension can range from 30 days to an indefinite period of time. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you can get your license reinstated if you make it through your mandatory suspension and/or complete your prison term, complete a DUI treatment program and file a Notice of Completion, and pay your court fines.

Even before you complete your mandatory suspension period, you may be eligible to obtain a restricted license.

  • ·  Driving with Suspended or Revoked License

Georgia law prohibits driving when you know that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. Driving on a suspended or revoked license could subject you to county jail time and heavy fines.

  • ·  Weapons Violations

Georgia law regulates who may possess, carry, and use a firearm, and what types of firearms are lawful. Weapons violations include offenses such as discharging a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of an unlawful weapon, and the unlawful sale of firearms.

New residents who own handguns have 60 days to register or sell their handgun once they move into Georgia. Convicted felons are not allowed to possess or own firearms.

  • ·  Parole / Probation Violations

Parole is the supervised release of a person before the conclusion of their prison sentence. Although similar, probation is different in that it is part of a sentence for a crime and may include various conditions, such as home confinement.

If a person violates the conditions set forth by a federal or state court of their parole/ probation they may be sent to jail or prison and their parole/probation may be revoked.

  • ·  Juvenile Proceedings

Juvenile court has jurisdiction over cases

  1. where minors under 18 years of age have allegedly committed an act, which would be criminal if he/she were an adult;
  2. where minors have allegedly been neglected or abused by their parent or guardian; and
  3. where minors are considered incorrigible (meaning, beyond the control of parents, runaways, and chronic truants, etc.)

The job of the juvenile court is to protect the minor from him or herself and from others. Juvenile matters are confidential and many proceedings are not open to the public. Juvenile records are confidential and can only be released to officers of the court, specific agencies or by order of the Presiding Judge of the juvenile court. Though juvenile courts are focused more on rehabilitation, a minor still faces the possibility of incarceration, certification to Adult Court, jail time in a local detention facility, and lengthy and restrictive probation periods.

  • ·  Expungements

Georgia law allows defendants who have successfully completed probation or have been discharged early to petition the court to set aside their guilty verdict or permit withdrawal of the guilty or nolo contedere plea and dismiss the accusation or information. If the petition is granted, the person can treat, for most purposes, their arrest and/or conviction as if it never occurred.

Some crimes such as child molestation offenses, sex offenses, and certain traffic offenses are not eligible for expungement.

Even if an arrest or criminal conviction is expunged, it may still be considered as a prior conviction in a future prosecution. Additionally, convictions for certain crimes may continue to prevent an individual from possessing firearms.

At the Law Office of Thomas Westbury & Assoc, we can help you to expunge your record. In some cases, we can also have felonies reduced to misdemeanors and probation terminated early.

·  WHITE COLLAR CRIMES

Antitrust

Antitrust laws have been put in place under the theory that the public benefits from free competition in trade and industry. People in violation of antitrust laws include individuals who have allegedly rigged bids, fixed prices or allocate markets. Business owners or any individual who advises or aids another can be found to have conspired to violate antitrust laws.

·  Bank Fraud

Bank fraud is the use of fraudulent means to obtain money, assets, or other property owned or held by a financial institution. This can occur when a bank employee embezzles or in a much more complex scheme to defraud such as false loan applications.

·  Bribery

A bribe is defined as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties. A bribe can consist of immediate cash or of personal favors, a promise of later payment, or anything else the recipient views as valuable. It is not necessary to have a written agreement.

·  Consumer Fraud

Any deceptive practice that results in financial or other loss for a consumer during the course of what appears to be a legitimate business practice. This includes identity theft, internet fraud, and tax scams.

·  Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is imitating currency, documents or products with the intent to fraudulently pass the item off as genuine. Typically, this is done to take advantage of the established reputation or worth of a product. Counterfeiting of goods can lead to patent and trademark infringement crimes.

Our office has handled many counterfeiting cases including computer software, bootleg compact discs and DVD’s, currency and various documents.

·  Embezzlement

Embezzlement is defined as embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of property by someone to whom it has been entrusted. Typically, this involves a relationship of trust whether it be a family member, employer-employee relationship, agent or trustee. This differs from larceny because the person comes into possession of the property legally, but fraudulently takes right to the property thereafter.

·  Extortion

Extortion occurs when a person uses force or threats to compel another to give over money or other property. Extortion can also occur when one uses force of threats to compel a public officer to perform an official act or where a public official compel another to give money or other property acting under the color of official right.

·  Forgery

The making, drawing, or altering of a document with the intent to defraud. A signature made without the person knowing of or consenting to it.

Mail (and Wire) Fraud

Mail fraud is a crime in which the offender develops a scheme to defraud another of money or property and uses the mails. It requires the specific intent to defraud. Wire fraud also requires the specific intent to defraud but by means of electronic communication, e.g., phones, internet.

If you or a loved one have been charged with mail or wire fraud, you should call our office immediately to discuss the facts of your case. We can be reached at 678-906-5971.

·  Money Laundering

Money laundering is the act(s) of creating the appearance that money obtained from criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, white collar crime, or terrorist activity, originated from a legitimate source. Money laundering laws were enacted to take the profit out of criminal activity.

·  Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud is a term used to describe a broad variety of criminal actions where the intent is to materially misrepresent or omit information on a mortgage loan application to obtain a loan or to obtain a larger loan than would have been obtained had the lender known the truth. In federal courts, mortgage fraud is prosecuted as wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud or money laundering.

·  Perjury

Commonly, perjury is known as lying under oath. It is the deliberate, willful giving of false, misleading, or incomplete testimony under oath.

·  RICO

RICO stands for the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.” RICO laws were enacted to increase the punishment (and forfeiture provisions) for crimes performed within organized crime. It is known as “racketeering crime.” Evidence of a criminal organization must exist and be proved.

The Law Offices of Thomas Westbury & Assoc. is highly experienced in handling federal RICO cases. Please call us for a free consultation at 678-906-5971.

·  Securities Fraud

Securities Fraud is a crime in which securities investing or trading laws have been violated. The definition of a security encompasses many things including stocks, bonds, commodities and other investments. Securities fraud can be described as deceptive practices in the stock and commodity markets. Generally, securities fraud occurs when investors are enticed to buy securities based false statements.

Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a practice in which investors make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of the securities laws.

Generally speaking, securities fraud consists of deceptive practices in the stock and commodity markets, and occurs when investors are enticed to part with their money based on untrue statements.

·  NARCOTIC OFFENSES

Drug Distribution/Trafficking

In Georgia, it is illegal to distribute, transport, or import controlled into the United States. Controlled substances include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy (MDMA), and heroin. Federal and state drug distribution and trafficking laws vary according to the drug type, amount, geographic area of distribution, and whether minors were targeted.

Both Georgia and federal laws allow law enforcement to seize property including money, your home, your vehicle, or your firearms believed to have been used in criminal activity such as drug trafficking. Even if you are never charged, you must file a claim in civil court to recover your money or your property. If you don’t file a claim on time, you could lose that money or property for good.

·  Drug Diversion & Drug Court

Drug diversion programs allow people accused of minor drug offenses to be considered for what is considered “alternative disposition” in their case. A person approved for drug diversion or “drug court” receives treatment instead of jail time. Typically, a person sent to a drug diversion program must check in frequently, in person or through his or her lawyer; however, this is often a better solution than spending time in jail. Successful completion of a drug diversion or treatment program can help keep a felony off of your criminal record.

To get sentenced to drug diversion or “drug court” instead of jail, you often need an experienced attorney who can negotiate on your behalf. The Law Offices of Thomas Westbury have the experience to help get you drug treatment instead of jail time. Please contact us with your case details today at 678-906-5971.

·  Drug Importation

In Georgia, it is illegal to distribute, transport, or import controlled into the United States. Controlled substances include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy (MDMA), and heroin. Federal and state drug distribution and trafficking laws vary according to the drug type, amount, geographic area of distribution, and whether minors were targeted.

·  Drug Manufacturing or Cultivation

In Georgia, it is a crime to grow, produce, and possess certain plants used in the production of unlawful controlled substances such as cannabis seeds and marijuana plants. It is also a crime to produce illegal controlled substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy (MDMA). Marijuana or hashish grow houses, meth labs, and designer drugs commonly result in drug manufacturing charges.

Additional charges, such as theft of utility services, can occur as the result of a drug manufacturing charge.

·  Drug Possession

In Georgia, it is illegal to possess illegal controlled substances, such as LSD, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), and marijuana. It is also illegal to possess "precursor" drugs, which could aid in producing or using illegal controlled substances.

Depending on the amount and type of drug, charges will vary. Possessing a larger amount of a controlled substance could lead to a “possession for sale” charge, which is not eligible for drug diversion.