Can I drop Family Violence Charges in Georgia?
Frequently, people involved in family violence charges in Georgia want to know how to drop the charges. Unfortunately, it is not so simple. Under Georgia law, family violence allegations- family violence battery, family violence assault and related crimes are subject to enhanced penalties that can make it difficult to have the charges dismissed.
Who Decides to Prosecute?
When law enforcement is called to the scene of an alleged family violence crime, most people believe that someone usually is going to jail. On-scene interviews are usually quick and informal, but result in big consequences- someone being arrested and taken to jail. Often times those calling 911 to report a crime have no clue or expectation that a spouse or partner will be taken off to jail; they simply wanted a report taken or had lesser motivations for calling and involving the cops. However, generally, cops will not listen to any pleas for leniency when they come out to an alleged family violence scene. Even the smallest scratch, mark, or redness will usually result in an arrest if they can at least make probable cause for a charge. So, who decides to prosecute? Usually the responding officers. Once they have made an arrest decision, the power to undo it or drop the charges in any quick and easy manner is out of everyone's' control.
Family Violence Bonds- No Contact, Etc.
The next step in the process of a family violence case involves bonds. Under specific Georgia laws, the Judge setting bond can require additional terms not usually called for in bonds. No contact, requiring the charged person to not return home, requiring them to participate in the family violence intervention program, possess no firearms, are all frequently mandated conditions of bond. This can, again, present extraordinary hardships, especially on families, having a parent suddenly forbidden to contact and see their family.
Most county prosecutors have a victim advocate office that is a link between parties involved in family violence allegations and the actual prosecutor who will be handling the case. This victim advocate will usually attempt to contact you before the first appearance bond hearing and discuss the situation as well as your desires moving forward. However, often times, Judges do not follow all of the recommendations of the advocate, especially as it relates to contact bonds. If you are going through the process of trying to help a spouse or partner be released from jail after a family violence arrest, make sure you express your desires to this victim advocate. Even if the first Judge to see the case does not follow their recommendations, your opinions and wishes will at least become part of their file.
Family Violence Prosecutors in Georgia
After the first appearance and bond hearing in Georgia, a new file will generally be turned over to the prosecutor's office within a few weeks. Of course, if there is a no contact or prohibition on someone returning to their residence, this delay can amount to an extreme hardship, especially amidst the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic-world. Eventually, though, a prosecutor will be assigned to the file and will start building their case file. During this time period, the prosecutor or victim advocate office may mail a packet to be filled out by the complaining party in the case. Fill it out- it will give the prosecutor insight into the situation, the challenges of the case, and your desires moving forward. Unfortunately, very rarely do prosecutors get a packet back that says "dismiss!" and actually dismiss the charges. They are used to seeing these type statements and know they have the power to subpoena everyone involved in a situation.
Can a Lawyer Help Get Family Violence Charges Dismissed?
Yes. More specifically, our team at Zeliff | Watson can help get family violence charges dismissed. We have over 35 years between our 2 partners in defending cases, with family violence being a large part of our case load. However, we are different from most. We will not sit on the file for days, weeks and months without not attempting to push the prosecution in the right direction. In most cases, we can represent someone at their first appearance bond hearing and make a difference in what bond restrictions the Judge sets into place. Shortly after, we can initiate contact with the victim advocate office, prosecutor, and the court that will ultimately hear the case. We can file a motion to amend the bond conditions and work with all parties to have conditions in place that make sense until the case gets resolved. We also work with therapists and other industry professionals, where desired, to restore stability to these situations- which will ultimately make the prosecutor and court more comfortable with a possible dismissal of the case.
So, Can my Family Violence Case be Dismissed?
Yes. But, it's not as easy as a phone call or sheet of paper. We have taken all approaches to have these cases dismissed, and no two are the same. Sometimes the stories given to the arresting officers are proven to be less than truthful, sometimes counseling or therapy is exchanged for a dismissal, and sometimes we litigate these cases through trial. In fact, below is a 2019 Not Guilty verdict that Peter obtained for a client charged with various crimes against their spouse. Again, no two cases are the same and our team is prepared to put every ounce of experience to work for you and your case.
So, How Do I Get Zeliff | Watson on Our Side?
Give us a call today, or use the contact form within this website to reach out. We are 24/7/365 and Peter or Evan will personally call you to begin discussing making your case and restoring you and your family's good name. We are at: (770) 676-1340.