If you’re in Georgia and have been charged with a crime, you’ll need to understand some basics about felony laws here.
Crimes in Georgia are separated into misdemeanors, misdemeanors of a high and aggressive nature, and felonies. All misdemeanors carry a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
If you’ve been charged with something more serious, you have likely been charged with a felony. Felonies in Georgia are defined as any crime that can carry a sentence of over 12-months in jail.
Unlike in some other states, felony crimes in Georgia are separated into degrees. First degree being the most severe, third the least severe.
If you’ve been charged with a felony, it is advised that you seek experienced legal help immediately. A dedicated criminal law firm will be able to take you through the details of your charge and help you assess what kind of sentences are on the line and, if necessary, prepare you to take your case to court.
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There are several different types of crimes that constitute felonies in Georgia. Most of which can be sorted into violent and non-violent felonies.
Non-violent felonies include fraud, bribery, tax crimes, theft (either by taking or deception), and other forms of white-collar crime. Interestingly, crimes relating to the sale and manufacturing of drugs, whilst they can carry severe punishments, are classified as non-violent felonies.
Violent felonies in Georgia include but are not limited to:
- Aggravated Assault/Battery
An important piece of information to remember: crimes be either misdemeanors or felonies in Georgia.
While, for example, murder is always going to be a felony charge, misdemeanor crimes like DUI can potentially be felonies. It differs from a crime to crime basis, but somebody facing their fourth or fifth DUI charge in a short period of time will see their crime upgraded to a felony.
This is also important to remember for crimes that relate to the sale of drugs, depending on the value of the narcotics sold. Anything over $500 is going to be a felony.
Your lawyer will be able to assess your case and determine whether your felony charge should actually be a misdemeanor or not.
Georgia Felony Laws: Punishments
Felonies in Georgia carry sentences that range from one year in jail to the death penalty.
When sentencing you, the judge will consider the gravity of the crime, your criminal history, and your age. They will then pass down a sentence they deem sufficient enough for your crime.
The specific sentencing ranges vary from crime to crime. Serious charges like murder and rape carry the death penalty or life in prison (with or without parole). The state of Georgia has executed 76 prisoners between 1976 and 2020.
Robbery carries a one to a 20-year prison sentence, a minimum of five years if the crime was robbing someone over the age of 65. Aggravated assault and aggravated battery also carry similar sentences, which can again be more severe depending on the circumstances of the crime. All jail sentences over one year will be served in a state prison.
Another option for judges is probation. Sometimes a judge may consider the circumstances of a crime and decide to place you on probation in place of a prison sentence. You are required to meet all the conditions of your probation to avoid jail time.
The most common conditions are to abstain from committing any further crimes, report to your probation officer as required, stay within the state, and find honest employment.
In certain cases, you could also have conditions such as abstaining from contact with your victim. In crimes like stalking, this is a common probation term.
Further Punishments to Consider
A judge may well hand anyone who is convicted of a felony in Georgia further punishments in addition to jail time, probation, or a fine.
You may have your assets frozen or forfeited, your driving license could be revoked, or the judge may order you to pay restitution.
Other ancillary punishments are dependent on the nature of your crime.
Certain types of drug offenses carry special conditions for your probation. These could include mandatory drug tests, addiction treatment, or abuse evaluation. The judge will not put these probation conditions in place for other types of crime other than drug crimes.
If you’re convicted of a sex crime, you will most likely be placed on a sex offender registration. Your name will be listed on a public registry, and you will not be allowed within 1,000 feet of any childcare facility, church, school, or anywhere else that minors are likely to frequent.
You will also be prohibited from working at these places or any employer within 1,000 feet of them.
Living With a Felony Conviction
Following your conviction, life can be difficult as you find your access to certain things completely restricted or severely limited.
At present, the state of Georgia does not currently allow criminal records to be expunged. This means anybody conducting a background search on you will know if you have a previous felony conviction, and it will stay on your record indefinitely. Find out more about this here.
If convicted of a felony in Georgia, you will lose your voting rights for the duration of your sentence. You will also lose the right to own a firearm.
Your employer may terminate your contract upon your conviction, and you will find it difficult, but not impossible, to find a new job. As well as this, your access to credit cards and loans may be restricted.
If you are currently studying or are planning on studying, your college may expel you or rescind their offer, and you may find it hard to get into college again. You will also be denied eligibility for a federal student loan.
Hire a Lawyer Today
This article is intended as an overview of felony law in Georgia. To obtain detailed analysis of felony laws and legal help, you will need to hire a lawyer.