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
Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after arrest?
When a person is arrested, a bond amount will normally be set which will be designed to assure that the arrestee will appear in court. Certain offenses may not be bondable depending on the circumstances. Also, if the person arrested is on probation or has multiple warrants pending, he/she may not be given a bond. If a person does not receive a bond when arrested, a lawyer can petition for a bond hearing in order to request a bond. If the bond a person receives is too much for the person to pay, a lawyer can petition for a bond-reduction hearing in order to request that the bond amount be lowered.

What if I am already on probation when I get a new charge?
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 the defendant to jail. There is no right to a jury trial at a probation revocation hearing and the evidence required to revoke probation is much less than what is required at a trial.

If you are on probation, you should hire an attorney who can handle these issues.

Are there differences between courts?
In most metro-Atlanta jurisdictions, the court system is so inundated with the sheer volume of civil, criminal, and traffic cases that several courts exist to handle the caseload. In more rural places, there may be fewer courts to handle the smaller caseload often found in those jurisdictions. Just like all people have a different personality, each courtroom has a different “personality” depending on the judge, the judge’s staff, the bailiffs, the prosecutors, the courtroom personnel, etc.

No two people will view the same case in the same way. Often, there can be a difference between how two judges would handle the same case. There can also be huge distinctions between how two different prosecutors would address a given case even in the same courtroom. Added to the confusion is a quagmire of different rules (“local rules”) for each court and each courtroom. Each judge and prosecuting attorney has his or her own way of handling the caseload.

A good attorney will know when it is wise to “bind over” or transfer your case to another court. This is usually done because of the prosecution’s unwillingness to consider a reduced charge or alternate disposition of a case, or because the case needs to be tried in front of a jury.

Can the prosecutor add charges?
The prosecuting attorney or prosecutor (who may be titled District Attorney, Assistant District Attorney, Solicitor, Solicitor-General, Assistant Solicitor General, United States Attorney, Assistant United States Attorney, etc.) has broad discretion to add or subtract or reword criminal and traffic-related charges. Often, an accused person will face different charges when he or she arrives at court than the police officer originally charged. For example, a person arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to maintain lane (weaving) may arrive at court to find two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and a speeding charge because the prosecuting attorney has reworded the accusation to make the charges easier to prove in court. An experienced prosecuting attorney will often take a “shotgun” approach by charging several different offenses hoping the evidence will prove some of them. Normally criminal charges cited in this fashion will merge with one another if there is a conviction. An experienced attorney will know how to handle all of these issues.

What is arraignment?
In a practical sense, not much occurs at an arraignment calendar. In the past, each case would be “formally arraigned” whereby the person accused would stand before the judge and the charges would be read out loud in open court to the accused. Today, the court system is so clogged with cases that extremely few cases receive such formal treatment because it would take too much time. Normally, the person or his attorney simply receives a written copy of the charges and receives the next court date.

It is best to hire an attorney BEFORE arraignment, however, because of rules concerning the filing of motions (legal documents requesting certain action in a case) to which some judges adhere.

Will my case go to trial?
Very few criminal/traffic cases actually go to trial. Of those cases which are tried, more receive a non-jury trial (also called a bench trial or a “judge only” trial) than a jury trial. Any good attorney will always prepare for the worst, and will be ready to go to trial if necessary. Even if you plan on pleading guilty to a charge, a solid attorney will investigate and explore legal arguments to minimize the damage and maximize the benefits granted by the law.

Will I go to jail?
Facing criminal/traffic charges can be serious business. Some statutes (laws written by the General Assembly) require mandatory jail time. Other statutes require mandatory periods of probation, which require the person to be monitored by a probation officer, take drug tests, pay fines, etc. Even county ordinances for relatively minor offenses can subject a person to county jail time and/or probation.

Today, there are so many people incarcerated (approximately 1% of the total United States population) that many alternatives to incarceration have been developed. However, many lawyers are not fully aware of the many options available. Your attorney should do everything possible to explore these possibilities on your behalf and explain your situation in an understandable way.