So, you’ve been charged with a crime. Maybe even arrested. Or maybe it’s just a simple traffic ticket. What you do next – all of your decisions – will have a major impact on your future. You should always hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer any time the government is involved, even if they’re telling you ‘all you have to do is pay a fine’. Even if it’s just a speeding ticket, there are always consequences. Sometimes paying the fine is just the beginning. You need to know your rights and you need to fight for them. The government won’t help you. The attorneys at The Kent Law Group have appeared in literally hundreds of cases and we know your rights.
Clients often consider hiring a lawyer, but then decide not to because, as they claim, “all I have to do is pay this fine.” But even paying a fine can be harmful if you don’t know what comes afterwards.
Do you have a super-speeder ticket? Simply paying the fine is an admission of guilt. You’ll get a separate fine in the mail from the Department of Driver’s Services and you’ll have to pay it…promptly. If you fail to pay it, your license will be suspended. Your license will be suspended even if you never physically receive the letter. And when you get pulled over for a minor offense, say, a cracked windshield, the officer will arrest you for driving on a suspended license. All your protestations to the contrary will not help you.
Instead, hire a criminal defense lawyer even if it’s just for a super speeder. The lawyer can explain your rights, negotiate the ticket, recommend certain courses for you to take, possibly get a zero-point order, and save you from the negative consequences of the super speeder.
Points on Your License
Did you know that points on your license add together over the years? Did you also know that depending on your age, your license can be suspended if you accrue too many points? This can even happen after you turn 21.
What’s more, even if you “just pay the fine” you often cannot stop points from attaching to your driver’s license. It’s crucial that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate your ticket. Prosecutors often consider past driving history, speed as cited in the ticket, nature of the current offense, facts, evidence, and other factors. Many times, the ticket can be reduced based on negotiating merely the speed. Other times, it will require more effort to have your ticket reduced. But why just walk into court and pay what they tell you and do as they say? The prosecutor has no duty to you – they represent the State of Georgia. You should have a lawyer try to negotiate the ticket.
If you just pay the fine, and if points are attached, your insurance premium is likely to increase substantially. That’s because the insurer now sees you as a greater liability than before you got the ticket. But should you be obligated to pay increased rates simply because you got pinched speeding? In most cases, you should not. In most cases, you’ve already learned your lesson and won’t speed again. But paying the fine is not helpful.
Zero Point Orders
The law in Georgia allows a driver to request a zero-point order. That means that if your speeding ticket carries points on adjudication of guilty or entry of a guilty plea, you have the ability to request a zero-point order from the judge so that no points are assessed. But simply asking for that order is not sufficient. There are several things you’ll need to complete and show to the prosecutor. Then you’ll need to know what to ask the judge and what to give the judge so you can claim zero points PLUS a reduced fine.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer will help you navigate this type of scenario. Many times, clients have already been to court and have had their case reset. This is a good time to hire a lawyer and discuss your rights and possible remedies.
Avoid the points, avoid super speeder fine, avoid increased insurance rates – hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Many criminal charges are more significant than a simple speeding ticket and you must address these charges. Too many people wait until the last minute to hire counsel, and often that puts them at a disadvantage. Regardless of the charge, the state is required by law to give you all the evidence they intend to introduce against you to prove your case. You’ll need to know how to request this evidence early on and know what to file in order to obtain it. Your lawyer will be able to review that evidence and determine whether the state will be able to sufficiently prosecute you.
If the evidence is weak, or even if it’s pretty solidly against you, there’s still plenty your lawyer can do to help you. Often that evidence may not actually support the charge against you and the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the charges to something insignificant. But you have to review that evidence first and have a lawyer that understands criminal law use that evidence to your advantage.
Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
Marijuana law in Georgia is changing rapidly. Just a few years ago, these minor possession crimes were being prosecuted daily. Over time, local governments have stopped focusing so heavily on these crimes, but they do still prosecute them. While there are many defenses, the law itself actually gives you a one time ‘get out of jail free’ pass in O.C.G.A § 16-13-2. Many prosecutors don’t want to waste time prosecuting these crimes, so they are likely to offer pre-trial diversion or conditional discharge. If you successfully negotiate to be placed in these programs, your record will remain clear if you successfully complete the terms of the programs. But you need to know how to get into the program and what happens if you flunk the course or if other problems arise.
There’s no reason to pay a fine and carry the guilty judgment against you if it can be avoided. You should always hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate these charges.