Is this the first time you or your child has been arrested? If so, you are understandably scared, confused, and losing sleep worrying about how a potential conviction will affect the rest of your life.
All is not as bad as it seems, however. If you have never been convicted of an offense of any kind and you have never pled guilty to an offense under a first offender law of any other jurisdiction, you may be eligible for "first offender" consideration and have special rights under Georgia's First Offender Law. Call me today (678) 561-0411 for a free consultation. I'm ready to help guide you through the criminal justice process and coach you through this difficult time.
There are only two ways to be convicted of a crime. One way is to be found guilty after a trial by a jury. The other way is to plead guilty before the judge after negotiations with the prosecutor. In both instances, it becomes a conviction when judges sign their name on the sentencing sheet. This is called an adjudication of guilt. Under the Georgia First Offender law, the judge DOES NOT SIGN HIS/HER NAME ON THE SENTENCING SHEET. Therefore, when you dispose of your case under Georgia's First Offender law, IT IS NOT A CONVICTION. The adjudication of guilt is DIFFERED. If you successfully complete your sentence without reoffending, or otherwise violating any term of probation you may be on, it will never become a conviction and may be eligible for expungement from your record. If you violate the terms of your sentence, a warrant will issue for your arrest and you will soon be back in court. At that time, the judge can take away your status as a first offender, adjudicate you guilty, and RE-SENTENCE YOU.
For some first offenders, or in some cases even for people who have minor offenses on their criminal records, or offenses in the distant past, many jurisdictions offer Pre-trial Intervention and Diversion programs that literally intervene, or divert away from the prosecution of your case.
For drug offenses, Georgia has a separate First Offender law. O.C.G.A 16-13-2 is the "conditional discharge" statute. If you plead guilty under this provision, you do not suffer certain losses of your civil liberties; mainly you do not suffer a drivers license suspension. If you successfully complete your sentence under the provisions of 16-13-2, the record of the offense can be cleared from your criminal history.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ARRESTED and have never been convicted of another offense, or taken advantage of a first offender law in another jurisdiction, fill out the form or call Cohen and Hirsch Criminal Defense now at (678) 561-0411 for a free consultation.