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.

Hands Free Georgia Act – What To Expect

Hands Free Georgia Act – What To Expect

July 1st is a big day for drivers throughout Georgia.  That’s the day that the long awaited, much anticipated  Hands Free Georgia Act goes into effect.  This article is to explain the law; what it is, what it means for you and what to do if you break the law or if you have been injured by a distracted driver.

Hands Free Georgia Act – the Law

The Hands Free Georgia Act has been in the making for quite some time.  The purpose behind this law is to curb distracted driving and ultimately reduce the number of traffic fatalities on Georgia’s highways caused by drivers playing with their cell phones, answering texts, making calls or reading Facebook.

In 2017 there were 1549 traffic accidents resulting in fatalities.  In response, provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation, many cities around Georgia began to enact their own ordinances which prevented the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel.  Rather than have a variety of confusing laws throughout the State, Georgia enacted the Hands Free Act.

The Act provides that drivers no longer be “behind the wheel” while holding a phone or other wireless electronic device, unless making an emergency call.  The following are prohibited actions as listed on Governors Office of Highway Safety

  • A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone.  Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch.  GPS navigation devices are allowed.
  • Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.
  • A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS
  • A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content
  • A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
  • A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt)
  • Music streaming apps can be used provided the driver activates and programs them when they are parked.  Drivers cannot touch their phones to do anything to their music apps when they are on the road.  Music streaming apps that include video also are not allowed since drivers cannot watch videos when on the road.  Drivers can listen to and program music streaming apps that are connected to and controlled through their vehicle’s radio.

There are exceptions and exemptions for emergencies situations and for emergency personnel. They are as follows:

1.    Reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions.
2.    An employee or contractor of an utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to an utility
emergency.
3.     A first responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties.
4.     When in a lawfully parked vehicle—this DOES NOT include vehicles stopped for traffic signals and stop signs on the public roadway.

What Does This Mean For You As a Driver

Beginning July 1, all drivers must comply with the new law. It is important to note that with this new law, there is NO grace period.  Officers have an option to issue warnings, however, they can and will also have the ability to ticket under this new law as well. As a driver, you may be ticketed for this infraction whether or not you are stopped for another offense or in an accident.

If you receive a ticket for this offense alone, the fines are as follows:

? First conviction: $50, one point on a license;
? Second conviction: $100, two points on a license;
Third and subsequent convictions: $150, three points on a license.

What Should You Do?

Having points added to your license can be a big deal. Points can lead to a suspended license. If you are ticketed for more than one traffic violation at a time, these can add up quickly.

Contact Us for Solutions

David Crawford knows how traffic accidents and negligence can affect your life and the lives of those you love.  If you or someone you know has been injured by a distracted driver, contact David to find out your legal options.  You can reach us by completing our online form.

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.

It’s Your Right To Ask A Lawyer

It’s Your Right To Ask A Lawyer

Asking for an attorney, If you are being questioned by the police is YOUR right.  It does not matter if you have committed a crime or not.  You have the right to counsel.  It’s one of the most basic and fundamental of rights of our justice system – the right to counsel.    Every person is entitled to representation, defense and every person is entitled to know how their actions will affect the future of the case – before those actions happen. Bottom line – it’s your right to ask for a lawyer and to ask a lawyer for advice before you speak.

The news media often portrays person’s guilt long before a trial, or even an arrest has been made.  You may think that because of what you have seen happen in the news, you will look guilty if you ask for a lawyer.  You may believe that the police won’t honor your right to counsel after you ask for a lawyer.  None of this is reality.   Asserting these rights is honored and respected.  And if for some reason it is not, there is no obligation for you to say a word further to anyone.

Consider this scenario –  you are home one night and across the street you hear shots ring out in the neighborhood followed by tires screaming away.  You call 911 and ask the police to come and investigate.  They speak to you briefly, take your information and dismiss you from the scene.  Later in the week, you are at home and the police knock on your door.  They ask you to come down to the station to speak with them about an active investigation concerning the incident in your neighborhood that you called in about.  They offer no details.  You agree, thinking if you can be of help, you want to do so.  Down at the station they begin to question you about a crime for which you have no knowledge.  You try to help and provide information, but your answers only elicit more questions.  After a while, you get nervous and wonder if you should request to leave.  Suddenly, you find yourself immersed in an investigation of a crime that you know nothing about.

How did this happen?  What are your rights?   Are you free to leave?  Are you a suspect?   What do you do now?  Should you rely on the police at this point?

  1. Ask for details.  Why are you being questioned?  Be polite but make sure you receive answers as to why you are needed to provide answers.
  2. Leave.  Ask if you are free to leave.  If you are not free to leave, ask plainly, “Am I under arrest?” Make sure you ask for a lawyer and say nothing more.
  3. Remain Silent.  Refuse to answer.  You have the right to say no.
  4. Tell the police that you want your Lawyer.  You have the right to representation.  Whether you have done something wrong or not, you have the right to an attorney and to your day in court, should you desire to do so.  Until you have spoken to someone who knows the law and represents YOUR interests, you shouldn’t speak about any of it – guilty or not.

Asking for an attorney may raise some eyebrows, but innocent people use lawyers frequently.  You are not a legal professional.   There is no issue with asserting your right to counsel, that most basic of rights, and receiving proper advice before speaking further.

Are you speaking to police about a criminal matter directly without counsel?  Do you have concerns about a particular criminal case? 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.    Contact Us Today to get started.

 

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.