Jussie Smollett – Pretrial Diversion

Jussie Smollett – Pretrial Diversion

Sometimes facts are truly stranger than fiction and the Jussie Smollett case is strange indeed. If you are following the news, you have heard that all charges have been dropped against Smollett without any explanation. How can this be the case, many are wondering. Most likely it is a process similar to what attorneys refer to as “pretrial diversion”. In this article we will review what we know of the Smollett case and if pretrial diversion was possibly the avenue chosen for the case disposition.

The Story

Jussie Smollett is a well known gay black actor from the hit series “Empire”. On January 29, he reported that he was attacked around 2 am while walking home from a sandwich shop. He told Chicago police that his attackers threw some type of chemical on him, looped a rope around his neck and beat him up all the while hurling racial and homophobic slurs and yelling “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” 

As a result of his police report, which went public immediately, many entertainers, activists and politicians were enraged, demanding action.  Smollett himself went on camera discussing and confirming the event. Television networks issued a statement and stood ready to support him in any way possible for this awful crime.

Throughout early February, Smollett continued to publicly denounce his “attackers” and defend his story. His friends, family and supporters stood by him, vowing to find those responsible.

However, as the police continued investigating this as a hate crime, another story began to emerge, indicating that the entire thing was a publicity stunt. Smollett had created the story because he was unhappy with his pay at Fox Studios.  He believed this hoax would generate the publicity to promote and build his career.

The Arrest

Authorities were furious.   There are true issues in this country and Smollett violated the trust of so many.  As a result, he was charged and arrested by the Chicago police.  But just as quickly, he was released, charges dropped and he was exonerated without explanation.  The Chicago police and Chicago Mayor as well as many other leaders stood baffled, uninformed by and unaware of what was taking place or why it took place.

Although the State’s Attorney has provided no details on why they allowed this to happen, Smollett continues to assert his innocence. What is interesting, however, is that he is no longer crying foul about hatred and racism everywhere he goes. He is no longer vowing to get those responsible for attacking him. He has gone completely silent as if the attack never happened. And as if that isn’t suspicious enough, the Chicago police released the public records regarding his arrest.  Immediately following the release of those records, Smollett’s attorney’s and the State’s Attorney asked for the Court to seal any future records, including the agreement.  The court stopped the release of anything further.

We do know that Smollett had to pay back the bond of $10,000.  The State’s Attorney also stated that he did community service although there is no mention of details on the community service.  If he did community service and paid money, why are they stating that the charges are dropped? This seems that money and privilege just bought himself out of trial, doesn’t it?

Pretrial Diversion

In Georgia, pretrial diversion is an alternative to the traditional court process. It allows those who qualify, to complete requirements prior to a court date in exchange for their case being completely dismissed. Although Chicago may not have this program, it seems as if they have something similar and that Jussie Smollett received some form of this program.
He agreed to some terms, completed them prior to a court date and his case was completely dismissed. 

In a pretrial diversion, requirements may include community service, a specific type of class, or counselling. Pretrial diversion may be available for you if you were arrested in Georgia for drug related crimes, charges related to domestic abuse and more.   A criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable with the court can negotiate your case for a potential from prosecution altogether, resulting in your case being dismissed.. 

Contact Us

David has years of experience working with clients with felony and misdemeanor cases and having them successfully “diverted” prior to trial and cases dismissed under Georgia’s pretrial diversion program.  No two cases are alike and each county or jurisdiction handles the program differently.  It’s important that you have the right attorney working your case from the start.   You can reach us here.

Failure to Appear

Failure to Appear

A failure to appear in court in the state of Georgia can get you locked up.  That means jail time.  When you receive a traffic ticket, you are asked to sign the ticket.  Your signature states that you will appear in court unless the ticket is paid before the court date.  In some cases, you MUST appear, and cannot pay your way out of a court appearance.  Either way, if you are required to appear but miss your court date, you will be charged with a failure to appear and a bench warrant will be issued.

After a failure to appear, you lose the option to pay the fine and make the ticket go away. This will most certainly result in a criminal record if not handled properly.

When you receive a citation, it’s always best to consult an attorney to learn your options.  Some citations allow you to simply pay.  However, paying is also a statement of guilt and can have an affect on your driving record,  your insurance rates and more.  And although it can be tempting to drive without a license, it will make your situation even worse.

If you are facing any of these issues, or know someone who is, contact David Crawford.  He will work with you to clear your record, help you in your court appearance or resolve your traffic related issue.

Read what David’s clients have said below and then give him a call.

Testimonials: https://legalpatriot.com/testimonials/

How Facebook Posts Can Hurt Your Case

How Facebook Posts Can Hurt Your Case

Facebook is still the most popular game in town.  Although it began with teens, it has now become the most popular online app across the world with young and old, alike.  People use it for a variety of reasons, personal and business.  Think about the ways we use Facebook today.  We use it to stay informed about our friends and acquaintances, to meet new people, to learn about events, listen to music, to shop, promote political or other views, share stories and photos and vent about our lives.  While Facebook has become so utterly entrenched in our lives (imagine a day without it), and it can be a valuable tool for sharing news and information quickly to a large group, let’s take a look at how Facebook posts can hurt your case if you have a pending legal matter or are under investigation.

False Sense of Security

We often think that when we are on our computer or our phone, we have safety and privacy in our posts.  This has led to a false sense of security.  Recent events in the news regarding Facebook have shown that there are many companies that have access to our data.  When something is placed online, whether it’s Facebook or another social media platform, we do not know who is viewing our content.  But one thing is for sure, EVERY company can allow law enforcement to view the content.  Social media companies actively participate with law enforcement to create a safe environment online.

Examples of Evidence

If you have a criminal case ongoing or there is an investigation that involves you, here are some examples of ways law enforcement may use social media that can affect you:

  • Announcements of your behavior – ex: “I got arrested yesterday for driving without insurance!”
  • Descriptions of your recent or past actions – ex: “I been driving without insurance for 2 years! Finally got busted!?”
  • Descriptions or photos of your drug use – ex: “Glad they didn’t see these laying in my seat. LOL” (with photos of a bong)
  • Images or information that suggest more serious crimes or additional crimes – ex: “I am really freaking out! I think I hit someone but I was drinking and I left the scene.  How can I find out if he is ok?”
  • Information that may support or negate an alibi  ex: photos showing him with his friends drinking at the time of the hit and run in the vicinity of where there was a person hit
  • Information or conversations that indicate a planning of the crime (goes to premeditation) – ex: “Dude, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  I was supposed to just hit a car.  There wasn’t supposed to be a person in it.  How did this happen?” (written in a private message on Facebook)

What To Do?

Many people realize they have posted something that may harm their case and delete the post and any comments.  Unfortunately, this does not erase the information.  If law enforcement has already begun to investigate, chances are they have seen the information, and your deletion of it only makes you appear more suspicious.

Here are the recommended steps to take in these situations:

  1.  Do not panic.
  2. If you have NOT yet posted about your legal situation (criminal or civil), DO NOT.  We know it’s tempting to vent.  Do not do it online.
  3. If you have posted about it.  Leave it alone and do not post anymore about it.  Do not even comment on it.
  4. Most important – Obtain some legal advice from an attorney.

Contact Us Now

If you, or a loved one, finds yourself in a situation involving traffic tickets, a DUI, driving without insurance or other criminal matters, contact our office.  David Crawford has the knowledge, experience and compassion to help see that your rights are protected.  There is no reason to let a mistake or a bad decision affect your entire life.  Attorney David Crawford’s will fight for your rights.

5 Tips About Your Driving License

5 Tips About Your Driving License

Clients often ask about ways to prevent losing their license after being ticketed for speeding.  Here are some tips regarding your driving license.

  1. If you receive a speeding ticket driving over 85 miles per hour on any road or highway or 75 miles per hour on any two lane road or highway, you should contact an attorney before paying the ticket.  This is known as a super speeder ticket and while it is a misdeanor,  it can have far reaching ramifications on you as a driver.
  2. Do not ignore traffic tickets, even if they are out of state fines.  States regularly communicate with one another and an unpaid ticket in another state can result in a suspension of your license in Georgia.
  3. A suspended license is not the same as a permanent revocation.  If your license is suspended, contact an attorney so you can begin working on ways to restore your license immediately so you do not lose it for good.
  4. Driving without automobile insurance in Georgia will cost you money and may cost your license. Do not chance it.
  5. Do not drive if you think your license has been suspended or revoked.  This will only make getting your license reinstated a much harder task.  You can check on your license status by reaching out to the Georgia DMV online here.  

A few other tips are a bit more obvious but we will list them here because we feel remiss if we do not.

  • Do not drink and drive.  Call a friend, take a taxi or get an Uber.  Not only is driving while under the influence illegal, it’s deadly.
  • Be sure to get your license renewed BEFORE the deadline.  If you are stopped and your license is expired, you effectively have no valid license.
  • Be sure to have a valid proof of auto insurance with you when you drive.  If is not the police officer’s job to look for it; it is your job to provide it for him or her when they request it.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.

You May Need An Investigator If Your Loved One Is In a Nursing Home

You May Need An Investigator If Your Loved One Is In a Nursing Home

It’s often very difficult making the decision for our parents to move into a nursing home.  Nobody wants to think about their parents being mistreated.   Unfortunately, it can and does happen.  Consider this scenario:  “Jared” goes to visit his mom regularly at the nursing home.  While normally upbeat and happy, he notices she has become fearful and withdrawn.  When he inquires, she says everything is fine.  He begins to notice small bruises on her arm.  She says she bruises easily.  He asks the staff and they state that it’s due to her age and part of the aging process.  Jared believes there is more to the story.  What can he do? How can a person in this situation get the true details? This is why you may need an investigator if your loved one is in a nursing home.

All Nursing Homes Are Not The Same

If you have followed the news in Georgia recently, you may have noticed an increase in legislative efforts to crack down on nursing home neglect and abuse.  This is due to the number of reports coming in regarding the overall treatment of elderly patients in facilities, including nursing homes.  These abuses include neglect, causing bedsores or pressure sores.  Bedsores can be fatal if gone untreated.
A nursing home may appear to have the best staff on the surface.  Meanwhile, when nobody is watching, things can take a drastic turn.  Patients can be neglected, verbally abused or even physically abused.  Neglect can be in the form of withholding medication or refusing to assist in daily needs.  The problem may be with all employees and the attitude coming from management or it may be a few rogue employees on one shift.

The Way To Learn The Truth: Investigate

If your loved one is in a nursing home and you have any concerns about his or her well being, you may need an investigator.  What can an investigator do to help you?  First, an investigator can do a financial background check on the company.  As a representative of the family, the investigator can do even more:
  • Drop-in visits to see the patient
  • Personal observations between patient and staff
  • Checking the physical condition of patient (weight for possible malnutrition) for injuries, marks, bruises
  • Checking the room for cleanliness including bed sheets and bathroom if appropriate
  • Speaking to the patient about their stay at the home (if appropriate)
  • Visiting public areas of the home (cafeteria, other public areas)

If there is any wrong doing, the staff may initially attempt to prevent the investigator from visiting but a good investigator knows how to gain information in a professional manner.

How Do I Find a Qualified Investigator

There are a lot of private investigators out there.  Here are a few things you should consider when hiring someone to help you out with investigating the nursing home for your family.

  • Licensed – Choose an investigator that is licensed.
  • Reviews – A good investigator has testimonials; usually they are on their website.
  • Variety – Look for an investigator with a variety of skills and investigation techniques as well as a variety of clients.
  • Technology – Although you may not realize this important, a good investigator must have excellent technology skills to do their job.  If he or she finds that there is neglect or abuse where your family member lives, there will be a need to gather more information and possibly work with an attorney and/or law enforcement.
  • Court admissible evidence – A good investigator understands that what he or she collects may need to go before the court at some point.
  • Fees & Expectations – Choose someone who explains their process clearly.  You should understand what you will pay and how the process works.

Remember, the investigator is YOUR advocate; a person to help you protect your parents or loved ones.  If you feel you may need an investigator, we recommend using Eagle Investigative Services. Eagle Investigative Services are licensed and have a wide array of clients.  You can contact them directly at: Eagle Atlanta.

If someone you love is in a nursing home or other facility you are concerned about,  contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.  If the initial facts warrants further legal investigation, David and his team will gather information about the patient’s history so that he has a complete understanding of how, and when, this occurred.  He will work with you and others to develop a detailed time line to understand what happened to your loved one, any warning signs that were ignored by the nursing home staff and what could have been done to avoid the problem. In essence, David will show you the negligent acts and omissions that may have occurred and help you understand the case prior to filing any lawsuit.

Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program

Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program

The State of Georgia is getting tough on elder abuse cases, which have continued to rise significantly across the state.  On March 15th, 2018, the House passed what will be known as the Georgia Long Term Care Background Check Program Bill.  This, also known as Senate Bill 406, will require that elder care providers undergo criminal background checks.  This has been a long time coming.

The background check will be a comprehensive, fingerprint based criminal background check.  The law will apply to the owners of personal care homes, assisted living facilities nursing homes, and more.  In addition, applicants for employment in these facilities will be required to pass the background check.  As well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, this will also apply to employees of personal care homes, hospice care, home health, adult day care and skilled nursing facilities.  The new background check requirement will take effect on October. 1, 2019, for new applicants and at a later date for existing owners and employees.  Another key component of SB 406 is the central registry.  The Department of Community Health would establish and maintain a central registry so that a family member or legal guardian looking to hire a personal caregiver for an elderly person could access information on eligible and ineligible applicants and employers.

Elder abuse can take many forms.  It can be the withholding of medicine, physical abuse, mental abuse, or neglect.  Every patient has rights.  Here in Georgia, we utilize the following statutes:  O.C.G.A. §31-8-103 through §31-8-121, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities”.  These rights protect patients.  If you feel that your mother, father or other loved one is not being cared for properly in a nursing home or other care facility, do not wait to act.  Waiting can be fatal.  Contact our office so that David Crawford can work directly with you on the details.  David has the experience, the passion and the legal knowledge to work with you and guide you towards a solution for you and your family.