Marietta Office
231 Washington Avenue
Marietta, GA 30060
E -mail: info@thomasgrinerlaw.com Phone: 770-420-2004
Fax: 770-420-3020
Thomas E. Griner, an attorney with the proven legal experience to get the job done right - the first time.
Thomas E. Griner, LLC © 2009
Criminal Charges

Criminal charges can be generally divided between misdemeanors (potential punishment of twelve (12) months or less) and felonies (potential punishment of more than one (1) year). Some offenses may be a misdemeanor for a first offense, but a felony for a second or subsequent offense. Some offenses may involve “secondary” consequences outside the judicial system, and may affect a person’s driver’s license, career choice, license to practice a profession, right to own a firearm, right to vote, etc.

Arrest Warrants
Normally, a person receiving a non-traffic related criminal charge will have a warrant for his/her arrest issued by a Magistrate Judge. Most of the times, the person has already been taken into custody when the judge signs the warrant. Other times, a judge may issue a warrant before the person is taken into custody.

Search Warrants
A search warrant is a warrant signed by a Magistrate Judge which authorizes law enforcement officials to search persons, places, or property. Some search warrants are “no-knock” warrants which enable the police to break open doors, windows, etc. to gain entry and “serve” the warrant. However unfair it may seem, a properly executed search warrant can be extremely invasive.

A search warrant does have limits. The information provided in the “application” for the search warrant must be reliable and reasonably accurate. Also, a search warrant can expire. It is possible for law enforcement officials to violate the provisions under which they conduct a search. All of these issues should be properly investigated and evaluated by an experienced attorney.

Accusation/Indictment
When a felony warrant is received by the District Attorney’s office or the Solicitor General’s Office, the case is assigned to a prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney (Assistant District Attorney or Assistant Solicitor General) will examine police reports, victim statements, etc., and draft the accusation or indictment, which will contain the charges the government will pursue against the accused. Depending on the type of charges, the prosecuting attorney may be required to present the charges to the Grand Jury, who will independently determine whether sufficient probable cause exists against the accused. Certain types of cases do not require presentation to a Grand Jury and the prosecuting attorney may simply file an accusation with the Clerk of Court where the case will be prosecuted. Either way, the case will be set for arraignment, where the accused person will receive a copy of the document containing the official charges.

An experienced attorney will file motions (legal requests for action or information) on the defendant’s behalf appropriate for the case and proceed to defend the accused.

Can the alleged victim drop the charges?
In the past, an alleged victim could contact the prosecuting attorney’s office and request that a case be dismissed. Now, judges and prosecuting attorneys are less likely to accept such a request. Several high profile cases have demonstrated that, many times, a crime victim requests a dismissal out of fear of reprisal or because of his/her financial difficulties. In fact, the more persistently the alleged victim makes the request to dismiss charges, the more some prosecutors are convinced he/she really is a crime victim. Today, most prosecuting attorneys will listen to an alleged victim’s wishes, but will form a decision whether to prosecute independent of the alleged victim’s request.

What if I am already on probation?
A person who is already on probation when he/she receives a new charge has a lot of factors to consider when deciding how to address the new charge. Pleading guilty or being found guilty of the new charge can enable the judge who put the person on probation to revoke that probation and send him/her to jail. You should always tell your attorney when you are on probation!

Any person facing a criminal charge of any type should consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the court system where the charges are brought.