Criminal Defense Lawyers in Lawrenceville, GA Helping The Accused Defend Their Rights
From our Lawrenceville, Ga office, the criminal defense team at Spaulding Law, LLC is proud to offer wide ranging criminal defense services in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Gwinnett County is the second most populous county in Georgia and home to a number of different courts. Navigating its criminal justice system in these courts can be challenging and is always dangerous to attempt on your own without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Don’t Face A Gwinnett County Charge Alone
With Interstate 85 dissecting the county and other major highways including GA 316, GA 20, and US 78 stretching through the county, it is home to a large number of police highway traffic enforcement initiatives and traffic stops. Many of these stops lead to traffic citations or arrests on a number of traffic charges or traffic-related charges such as DUI, or other charges like drug charges. Gwinnett County is known for drug interdiction efforts made on its highways and other searches for drugs and contraband that are conducted in the county.
If you find yourself facing criminal charges in Gwinnett County as a result of such a traffic stop or search, you need an experienced Gwinnett County criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Both Georgia law and federal law protect you from unreasonable and unlawful police traffic stops and police searches.
If you are arrested following a traffic stop or have property or contraband seized from you or your vehicle following a traffic stop, the evidence seized can be thrown out of court if the police conducted an illegal stop or illegal search or seizure. The law governing these types of searches and seizures is very complicated and constantly changing as new cases are decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Supreme Court, and United States Supreme Court.
You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who keeps up with the most recent developments in Georgia and federal criminal law to analyze and investigate your case to see if you have been subjected to an unlawful search or seizure. At Spaulding Law, LLC, that is exactly what we offer you.
Jeremy Hayes, the head of our criminal defense team, is a former prosecutor who worked closely with police officers and helped train them on proper techniques to use to conduct admissible searches and seizures. He has also brought and tried many types of criminal offenses. His unique insight into the minds of the police, prosecutors who are pursuing charges against you and the jury who will deliberate your fate provides you with an upper hand in the defense of your criminal charges.
Navigating Gwinnett’s Justices System–Initial Decisions Need To Be Made
Gwinnett County’s criminal justice system is unique and should never be navigated without at least first consulting an experienced Gwinnett County criminal defense attorney. Gwinnett County is one of the few Georgia counties that operates a Recorder’s Court in addition to the more common Superior, State, Magistrate, and Municipal Courts.
Recorder’s Court is often the first stop for most traffic citations and traffic-related arrests including Gwinnett County DUI charges. It also hears county ordinance violations.
It has dedicated judges, clerks, and prosecutors to handle its cases, but, like Magistrate and Municipal Courts, it does not offer jury trials. One of the first strategic decisions you and your attorney must make in any case that begins in Recorder’s Court in Gwinnett County is whether it is more advantageous to attempt to resolve your case in Recorder’s Court or to simply have it transferred (“bound over”) to State Court where you can demand a jury trial on all of the charges against you.
This is a decision best made with the advice of an experienced Gwinnett County criminal defense attorney who knows the pros and cons of addressing your specific case in Recorder’s Court vs. State Court.
Gwinnett County currently has three Recorder’s Court judges, six State Court judges, and ten Superior Court judges. Recorder’s Court and State Court judges hear only misdemeanor cases ranging from speeding to DUI and domestic violence. Unlike their three Recorder’s Court counterparts, Gwinnett’s six State Court judges have jurisdiction to conduct jury trials on all misdemeanor cases, and in most cases your defense attorney will advise you to elect a jury trial in front of six jurors rather than letting the one judge decide your guilt or innocence at a bench trial. If your case involves more of a technical legal defense than a factual defense, however, there can be times when asking the judge (who is a trained attorney) to decide the case can be more advantageous than asking six non-attorney jurors to decide a complicated legal issue.
How Misdemeanor Charges Are Handled In Gwinnett County
Misdemeanor charges (which are defined as all crimes which carry a maximum punishment of twelve months in jail or less) in Gwinnett County State Court are prosecuted by the Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office, which is led by Brian Whiteside, the elected Solicitor General. Mr. Whiteside was elected to his current position in November, 2018.
As the elected Solicitor General, he sets the prosecution policy of his office toward all misdemeanor cases. Georgia law vests prosecutors with a ton of discretion in any criminal case, and their decisions can significantly alter the direction your case takes.
Regardless what the police charge you with, the prosecutor ultimately decides what charges you will face in court. Their office can add more charges than the police charged you with, dismiss charges the police charged you with, or reduce the charges to something less serious. They also can recommend that your case be disposed of in a manner other than by pleading guilty or going to trial if it is eligible for alternative programs such as Pre-Trial Diversion.
That’s why it is very important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Your attorney can then investigate your case and provide information helpful to you to the prosecutor early on that may affect their decisions on what charges to bring or what type of resolution to recommend.
Gwinnett County Felony Charges
If you are facing felony charges in Gwinnett County, your case will be handled in Gwinnett County Superior Court. It is the only court in the county with jurisdiction to handle felony criminal cases. A felony in Georgia is defined as any crime for which the maximum punishment is one year or more in jail.
All felony charges in Gwinnett County are prosecuted by the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s office led by elected District Attorney, Daniel (“Danny”) Porter.
Gwinnett County is a growing and diverse county with more than a dozen cities. While it is technically part of the Atlanta suburbs, its huge population and large number of visitors passing through has grown its court system to rival that of major urban areas like Atlanta. It is patrolled in various areas by at least eight different local law enforcement agencies – the Gwinnett County Police Department, Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Duluth Police Department, Norcross Police Department, Lilburn Police Department, Loganville Police Department, Suwanee Police Department, and Snellville Police Department – in addition to the state-wide departments like the Georgia State Patrol and Department of Public Safety. Many of those cities have their own Municipal Courts that also handle misdemeanor and traffic cases.
As you can see, navigating the Gwinnett County criminal justice system is complicated and dangerous to attempt on your own. Call us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your Gwinnett County criminal charges with one of our Gwinnett County criminal defense attorneys.