Tips for Attending Court

Tips for Attending Court

If you have never been to court before, you may no idea on how you should conduct yourself or how to dress.  Here are some helpful tips for attending court .

Location Matters

Every court room is different.  Judges have personalities too, and they have their own way of running a court room.  Some judges are very quick and curt.  Others want to hear more details about the your legal situation.  Either way, having a lawyer that knows the courts will help you.

Dress Matters

Judges demand respect in their courtrooms.  Dress appropriately – it is not necessary to wear a suit, however you should wear something that you may wear to a job interview, religious service or business gathering.  Be clean and comfortable.

Conduct

Address the Court properly.  If you speak to the Court (Judge), speak clearly, use words rather than gestures and speak in a normal volume.  Refer to your Judge as “Your Honor”. Never argue with the opposing party when appearing before the Judge.  Direct all of your comments and responses to the Judge.

Family

Leave your children home.  Regardless of which Court you attend, children do not belong there.  Subject matter in Court may not be appropriate for them.  You never know what is on the Court calendar for that day so plan accordingly and have someone keep your children while you are gone.

Attendance Matters

Being on time is critical.  Check in where directed.  Stand when the Judge enters and exits the room.  Do not talk, use your phone or sleep while court is in session.  Food and drinks should never be taken into the courtroom, even if you plan to be there for a full day.

Other Etiquette

While it may be tempting to speak to others during your time in the courtroom, do not do so.  The whispering is not only distracting to those around you but it is disrespectful to those speaking in front of the Court.

Attending court can be scary.  You may feel anxious, nervous or even unprepared.  These tips for attending court will help remove some of that anxiety.  If you are still concerned, hiring an attorney can lessen many of these concerns.  Your lawyer will speak for you in most instances, can help you with your decisions and will be with you each and every step of the way.  If you are required to appear in court for a civil or criminal offense, (even a traffic offense), David Crawford can help.  Contact our office today.  Contact Us

Hiring An Attorney Can Save You Money

Hiring An Attorney Can Save You Money

If you are facing criminal charges, you may think hiring an attorney is a waste of money.  You may be concerned that it will just cost too much.  In fact, even if you plan to plead “guilty” for your charges, having your own attorney is critical. For one thing, pleading guilty may not be your best option. Without having a lawyer, you may believe that pleading guilty is your only choice when it isn’t. Hiring an attorney can save you money, rather than costing you more.

Let’s imagine you were arrested for public intoxication at a party where there were minors and charged with contributing to a minor.  Even if you were drinking at the party where there were underage drinkers, you may not need to plead guilty to that specific charge.  Much of this will depend on the evidence and the expertise of your lawyer.  A good defense lawyer can gather the information, review your options and help you make the correct decision.  Hiring an attorney can save you money, possible jail time and hopefully save your record.

You may also think that you do not need a lawyer for traffic tickets or a DUI.  However, even traffic citations have potential serious consequences.  You can have hefty fines, have points added to your driving record, or even lose your privilege to drive.  The best way to prevent this is to work with an attorney immediately.

For the best outcome, turn for legal help from the Law Offices of David Crawford. Attorney David Crawford is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has successfully helped many clients with reduced charges, parole or probation instead of jail time, reduced prison sentence and dismissal of charges.

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Georgia Bail Bond Process

Georgia Bail Bond Process

Georgia Bail Bond Process

The bonding process in Georgia can be confusing.  The purpose of a “bond” is to provide a financial guarantee that you will return to court for all of your appearances until your case is completed or dismissed.  You, or a family member, pays the bail amount and if you do not show up for court, the court will keep the bail and issue a warrant for your arrest.

So, this is how it works.  You are arrested for shoplifting and booked into the jail.  When you place a call, you contact family who, in turn, contacts a bonding company.  After your first appearance in court, your bail will be set at a specific dollar amount so that your family member can work out the arrangement with the bond company for your release while you await your court date.  Many times, your case will be settled prior to that date but in the event that it is not, the bail allows you to stay out of jail during the time leading up to and during your time in court.

The purpose of a bail is not meant to be punitive.  It is actually so that you can remain free from jail during your case.  This allows you to actively participate in the defense of your case.  It also helps with  overcrowding in jails which is a major problem in Georgia and across the country.

How is the Bail Amount Determined?

Attorneys and courts often use the terms bail and bond interchangeably but there is a distinction.  The bail money is the amount of money you pay to the court  for the “guarantee” that you will return for your court date(s) until the case is concluded.  The bond is the pledge that a bondsman makes to pay on your behalf  in the event you do not pay.  Typically speaking, the bond is 10-15% of the bail amount.

The court has the full authority to set the bond amount.  Some jurisdictions have a bond schedule for specific crimes so you do not have to wait to appear before the judge but that is not done in all cases.  At any rate, it is only the judge that can set the bond.  The police, sheriff or any of the arresting officers have no part of this process.

The judge takes several factors into consideration when setting the bond.  First and foremost is the question of whether the defendant is likely to run and avoid trial.  To answer that he or she looks at the following:

  • What ties does the person have in the community?
  • Is there family here? What family?
  • How long has the person lived here?
  • What is the job status? How long has the person worked at the particular job?
  • What is the person’s criminal history? are the crimes escalating?
  • Is this current crime a violent crime?
  • Seriousness of the crime
  • Ability to pay
  • Public Safety
  • Defendants propensity to harm someone
  • Is this crime even eligible for bond? (some crimes are not eligible by statute)

Types of Bail Bonds

There are 4 types of bail bonds that can be utilized to secure your release from jail in Georgia.

Cash Bond –  allows you to pay the entire balance.  The benefit of this is that at the conclusion of the case, having been to all court proceedings, you get all of your money back, regardless of the outcome.  Most bonds companies do not take cards or checks…cash means cash.

Property Bond –  allows you or someone else to present a warranty deed, current tax statement or other proof of ownership on property with the appropriate value to secure your release.  The downfall is that if you miss your court date, the house or property is gone.

Own Recognizance– this option is where the judge allows you to sign a form stating that you will come to court.  The judge basically takes you at your word.  This is mostly used in small misdemeanor cases.  You won’t see this in violent crimes and usually not in felonies.

Bondsman – When there are no other options, a professional bondsman can be contacted to post the bond.  They usually charge anywhere between 12-15% which is non-refundable.  This charge is their fee because they are taking a personal risk in the event you do not show up for court.

Contact Us Now If Your Family Member Is Incarcerated

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 skip out on your bail.  Attorney David Crawford’s will fight for your rights.

 

Why You Should Check For Nursing Home Abuse

Why You Should Check For Nursing Home Abuse

You may hear stories of nursing home abuse every day in the news. You may have followed some of the recent celebrity stories or even seen local stories of nursing home abuse on the Atlanta news.  It’s hard to believe these things can happen here, so close to home.  In fact, if your elderly parent or loved one is in a nursing home, you may think they are safe from harm because she or he has not complained and you have seen no obvious signs of trauma. However, you should not wait for your loved one to draw your attention to problems that may already exist. There is always the possibility that your parent is suffering at the hands of his or her caregiver. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to take a closer look yourself when you visit.

There are many reasons that you want to do a closer look into your loved one’s living arrangement and caregiving.  First of all, many of our seniors cannot communicate efficiently when there is a problem.  Many feel that this is the only place to go and therefore, speaking out is not an option.  Some are intimidated or threatened by the nursing home staff.  Some do not want to be a burden to others and finally, many just simply do not recall due to dementia, Alzheimers, or overmedication by abusive nursing home staff.

Check for Nursing Home Abuse

Visit Regularly

The first way to keep an eye on things is to visit regularly.  You will only be able to tell if things are going on if you know there are changes from one visit to the next.  If your parent’s attitude changes and you haven’t been to see him or her in months, it will be much more difficult to determine when it occurred and the reason behind the change.

Reasons for Visiting

You know your parents better than anyone.  If there is abuse or neglect (neglect is a form of abuse) taking place, there could be reasons they are not vocalizing it.  Remember that they have to continue to live there after you leave.  Some times speaking can seem to make things worse and unfortunately, one of the most common control tactics of abusive nursing home personnel is the use of intimidation.  This can be physical or emotional which leaves the resident feeling as if their dilemma will only worsen if they speak out.

You may notice notice subtle changes in your loved one such as immediately changing the subject when you ask about their wellbeing – especially if he or she used to complain but no longer wants to discuss their living situation.

To make sure the communication channel is always open, you should stress that health, happiness and their welfare are your top priorities.  Explain to your

parents or loved ones that they can come to you with their concerns about the location, their care givers, medical issues and more.  Your parents need to know that you love them and you are there to support them so that they do not feel as though they are only a burden now to you – just an inconvenience in your life.  Only when they understand that will they open up and tell you if things are not quite right.

Finally, as our parents get older, they may begin to forget details.  However, another problem with abusive nursing home staff is the use of medications to sedate patients.  This makes it even harder to recall incidents or neglect.

Withholding, altering or giving incorrect medication can have fatal consequences.  If you notice a sudden confusion, lethargy or overall change of behavior, physical appearance in your mother or fathers, you should act.

Act Immediately

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.

Georgia’s Traffic Citation

Georgia’s Traffic Citation

Imagine this scenario: Katie is driving to work early one morning.  She’s tired from having too little sleep.  She’s running late, knowing that one more time she will be fired.  Losing her job will mean she loses her apartment.  She’s nearly to the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare when she hears a siren and looks up to see the lights in her mirror.  She pulls over, hoping this will be a quick stop.  As she looks in the passenger seat for her purse, she realizes that she never paid her auto insurance.  She was planning to pay it with this next paycheck to get it reinstated.  Panicking, she looks ahead and sees a straight shot of road.  The thoughts race through her head.  Should she try and explain this to the police? Fight it in court? She will never get out of jail because she cannot pay if she’s arrested and loses her job.  Should she take her chances to run, knowing that she has nothing to lose? She knows that she will be going to jail when she is pulled over. Should she try to run? The officer is out of his car; she could get a very good head start.  What does she have to lose by running?

If you have watched the Atlanta news recently, you will see that people often try to outrun the police.  You will also see that it usually has deadly consequences.  It’s easy to see how someone can feel trapped with no way out.  While our state is not the heaviest in the fines, Georgia is unique in a couple of ways regarding our traffic citations.

Georgia’s Traffic Citation System

Georgia is one of only a few states that considers its traffic citations criminal offenses rather than minor offenses.  So, if you are caught speeding, that is a criminal offense.  In other states, it’s a minor offense.  Because it’s a criminal offense, you are given a court date.  Depending on the offense, you may have an opportunity to pay the fine rather than go to court.  However, if you go to court but are unable to pay your fine that day you risk probation.  Some offenses, i.e., driving without proof of insurance, require you appear in court.

In addition, Georgia courts add several surcharges on top of the actual fine.  Anyone who has been caught speeding in Georgia knows that the price tag of a ticket in court is very expensive and depending on how many miles over the speed limit, it may result in points on the driving record.  This can affect your wallet in more ways than one.  Insurance companies can increase your rate or drop your coverage if you have a risky driving record.

How Do We Help Katie?

Remember Katie from our scenario above? There’s hope for her situation, especially if she does not run.  You have rights under the law and Katie has rights too.  Katie would be best served by communicating with the officer to find out why he’s pulled her over.  She has a right to know.  Katie isn’t even sure what the reason is yet.  It could be speeding.  It could be lapsed insurance or it could be something all together different.  When the officer asks for her license, insurance and registration, Katie should provide her driver’s license and car registration and be honest about not having the insurance card.  In the event that she is ticketed, or worse, arrested, Katie has the right to contact an attorney and she SHOULD contact an attorney either way.

Why You Need a Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket

In the event that Katie was speeding excessively, she is likely facing a very large fine and possibly an additional super speeder fine from the State of Georgia.  This can also add points to her driving record which will increase the cost of her auto insurance.  Now, because Katie has already allowed her insurance to be cancelled, she may have a problem getting her insurance re-instated at all.  On top of that, when she goes to court, she will be unable to pay the fine (having lost her job) so she will be given probation.  Driving without insurance may actually result in incarceration as well as suspension of her driver’s license.  Having an experienced attorney who knows the law and traffic court can assist her greatly on all of these issues.  An attorney with trial expertise will know how and when to negotiate for Katie.

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 and preserve your driving record.  There is no reason to run.  Attorney David Crawford’s got your back.

 

Without a Single Drop to Drink, You Can Still Get a DUI

Without a Single Drop to Drink, You Can Still Get a DUI

Imagine the following: You are driving home late one evening.  Maybe you worked late.  Maybe you are a college student and you met a study group to prepare for upcoming finals.  When you are about half the way home, you see blue lights in your rear view mirror.  You pull over, providing your license, registration and insurance as requested.  The officer asks if you have been drinking.  You tell him respectfully and truthfully that you have not.  He asks you to step out of the vehicle.  You ask him why.  He tells you he suspects you of drinking and driving and provides no other information.  He uses a breathalyzer on you and then asks if you have been smoking marijuana.  You answer that you have not.  He asks about other illegal drugs.  You state that you have not taken any illegal substances.  He asks you to place your hands behind your back.  You ask why he is arresting you and he states, “You’re showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana.”  Stunned, frightened but also angry, you catch yourself before you say something that may make the situation worse.  You were not drinking.  You had not smoked marijuana and had never ingested any other illegal drugs.

If the above scenario seems like something that cannot happen, think again.  It has – and it does, right here in Georgia.   The part that is most upsetting about these arrests is that these individuals were INNOCENT and it took them months for their charges to be dismissed.  They each lost something during the time they waited for this to work through the system.

If you should find yourself in a situation such as this, you have the right to an attorney.  As an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney, David Crawford will weigh the evidence against you and build a strong case.  If you have been wrongly charged, he will fight for you and explore every avenue to help avoid a conviction.  We hope you are never in a situation where you have to make a phone call to a DUI attorney, but if you are, make sure you call the best – David Crawford.