Criminal Justice Definitions


AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
An aggravated assault occurs when you assault someone:
1) With intent to murder, rape, or rob;
2) With a deadly weapon; or
3) Fire at persons from a moving vehicle

 

ARRAIGNMENT
After the Grand Jury has indicted the accused, there will be a hearing in which the accused answers the indictment; the accused enters a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charge(s).  This occurs before the Preliminary Hearing.  If the accused enters a plea of not guilty, then the case will be placed on a trial calendar.  If the accused enters a plea of guilty, then he/she will be sentenced by the Judge and the case will be closed.

You will not be subpoenaed for Arraignment, and you do not have to attend Arraignment.  If you wish to be notified of Arraignment, you must request full notification in writing.

ARREST
An arrest occurs once the police take a person into custody.  The police are required to advise the individual of certain rights available to him/her.

BATTERY
A battery occurs when you cause substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm to another person (e.g. black eyes, swelling, bruising).

BAIL and BOND
Following the arrest, the person is allowed to make bail (or bond).  By paying a specific amount of money, the accused is then released from jail to await further legal proceedings.  The accused is entitled to a bond because he/she is presumed innocent at this point and is not formally charged with a crime.

Bond may be granted to the accused on all types of crimes.  A bond amount is set based on the type of crime, how dangerous the accused is to society, the accuser’s prior record, and accuser’s risk of flight.  Bail (or bond) assures that the accused appears at further court hearings.

GRAND JURY
The Grand Jury is made up of about 25 citizens from the county in which the case is being prosecuted.  The Grand Jury hears the evidence and testimony in Superior Court cases in order to decide if there is enough evidence to indict or “true bill” the accused.  Indicted or “true billed” means that the Grand Jury found enough evidence against the accused to proceed with the case.  At this point, the accused will be formally charged with the crime.  If there is not enough evidence, the Grand Jury will decide to “no bill” the case and it will be closed.
The Grand Jury presentation is closed to the public and neither the accused nor his attorney are present.  You may be subpoenaed to testify at Grand Jury.  If you are subpoenaed to Grand Jury, you must attend.

 

Orders of Protection

Police Report

Credit Freeze

Disorderly Conduct
Acted in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person that put them in fear of their safety.
Acted in a violent or tumultuous manner towards another person where their property was put in danger of being damaged or destroyed.
Without provocation, used “fighting words” or words known to provoke a potential violent reaction.
Without provocation, used obscene or vulgar language over the telephone to or in the presence of a child under the age of 14.

Identity Theft Affidavit

MOTIONS
After indictment, and before trial, various motions may be filed by the District Attorney or by the accused’s attorney.  The purpose of these motions is for the Judge to settle certain legal issues before trial.  Usually, many motions take place before trial.

You will not be subpoenaed for motions, and you do not have to attend motions.  Basically, motions deal with legalities.

PAROLE
Parole is the release from prison prior to the completion of a full sentence.  Before an inmate can be paroled from prison, a parole hearing is conducted.  The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has a committee to review each case and determine if parole can be granted.  You can express your views on parole to the Parole Board.  Remember, some crimes require that the inmate serve 100% of their time in prison; therefore, no parole will be granted.
Victim Services Office
State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 M.L. King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Telephone: 404-651-6668

 

PRELIMINARY HEARING
If a Preliminary Hearing is requested, it is held two or three weeks after the arrest of the accused.  The Preliminary Hearing is held at the Magistrate Court.  At the Preliminary Hearing, the Judge listens to the testimony and the evidence to decide if there is enough probable cause for the case to go to a higher court:  State Court or Superior Court.  The Judge decides if the evidence presented to him or her is sufficient for the case to proceed.

Misdemeanor cases are transferred to State Court, and felony cases are transferred to Superior Court.  State court cases are prosecuted by the Solicitor, and Superior Court cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney.

PRISON
If the accused is sentenced to prison, he/she will serve his/her sentence in one of the state institutions in Georgia.

PROBATION
If the accused is sentenced to serve a specified amount of time on probation, he/she is assigned to a probation officer.  He/she must report to the probation officer periodically.  Also, he/she must keep the probation officer informed of residence, place of employment, and any travel arrangements that require leaving town.  Sometimes a sentence includes both prison time and probation time.

Simple Assault
A simple assault occurs when you:
1) Attempt to commit a violent injury to another; or
2) Commit an act that places another in apprehension of receiving violent injury

SIMPLE BATTERY
A simple battery occurs when you:
1) Make intentional contact of an insulting or provoking nature; or
2) Cause intentional harm to another.

 

SENTENCING
Sentencing will usually take place immediately upon completion of the trial.  However, sentencing may occur before a trial takes place if the accused enters a plea of guilty and gives up his/her right to trial.

The person convicted of the crime may be sentenced from a variety of alternatives which may require that he/she receive jail or prison time.  Other alternative include, but are not limited to, probation, diversion center, boot camp, and community service.  The person convicted of the crime is usually sentenced to a prison term or probation.  Sometimes the person convicted of the crime is ordered to pay restitution and other fines.

If the person is convicted of the crime and is sentenced to serve time in prison, there is a strong possibility that he/she will be paroled before the sentence is complete.  However, certain crimes require that the person convicted serve 90% or 100% of their sentence.

The Parole Board has a “90% Time Served” policy for certain crimes.  This policy states that the criminal must serve 90% of his/her sentence; however, the criminal may be required to serve more than 90%.

Offenses included in the Parole Board’s 90% Time Served policy include:  aggravated assault, aggravated battery, aggravated battery on a police officer, stalking, attempted rape, bus hijacking, child molestation, criminal attempt to murder, cruelty to children, feticide, enticing a child for indecent purposes, hijacking a motor vehicle, incest, involuntary manslaughter, residential burglary (home invasion), robbery, statutory rape, vehicular homicide while DUI or habitual violator, and voluntary manslaughter.

Georgia’s “Two Strikes” Law requires persons convicted for the first time of one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” to serve 100% of their prison sentence with NO CHANCE of parole.

The only time that a person will have a chance for parole is in the instance of a life sentence and it is the first time the person was convicted of one of the “Seven Deadly Sins.”  In this situation, the person sentenced for life will be eligible for parole in fourteen years.  Persons convicted of and of the “Seven Deadly Sins” for a second time must be sentenced to life without parole.  The “Seven Deadly Sins” are:  murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated child molestation.

SUBPOENA
When a person is required to testify in court, he/she will be notified by a subpoena.  A subpoena is a legal notification issued by the Clerk of the Court.  The subpoena will specify the court date, time and place of the hearing that the individual is required to attend.  IF YOU ARE SUBPOENAED, CALL THE TELEPHONE NUMBER ON THE SUBPOENA FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.  Call this number before you come to court to make sure that the hearing is actually occurring on the date and time specified.

 

TRIAL AND JURY
The purpose of the trial is to determine the facts of the case.  During the trial, the State is represented by the Solicitor and the accused is represented by the Defense Attorney.  The Solicitor presents evidence first.  When the Solicitor is finished presenting evidence, the Defense Attorney presents his/her evidence.  Each side has the opportunity to question the other side’s witnesses and to examine the other side’s evidence.

A trial is conducted in court, which is open to the public.  The trial is conducted before a Judge and a Jury.  The Jury is selected prior to the trial by the Solicitor and the Defense Attorney.

A Jury is made up of twelve members.  One of these twelve members will be the foreperson of Jury.  His/her job is to lead the Jury’s discussions, communicate with the court, and record the verdict.  Also, there may be one or two alternate jurors selected.  Alternate jurors are selected in the event that one of the jurors is unable to complete the case due to illness or other emergencies.

When both attorneys finish presenting their evidence, closing arguments will be made by each attorney.  During closing arguments each attorney argues what they believe the evidence shows.

Next, the Judge “charges the jury”.  During the charge, the Judge instructs the Jury to evaluate the evidence that they heard in the case and to make their decision about the guilt or innocence of the accused based solely on the evidence presented at the trial.  Also, the Judge reads to the Jury the law that pertains to the case.

The Jury is then secluded in the Jury Room.  This means that only the Jurors are allowed in the room.  The Jury discusses the evidence to determine the accused’s guilt or innocence.  The decision is called the “verdict”.

After the verdict is reached, the foreperson of the Jury announces their decision to the court.  If the verdict is “not guilty,” the case is closed and the accused goes free.  If the jury cannot agree on a verdict after a period of time, then it is said to be a “hung jury.”  At this point, the Solicitor may decide to re-try the case at a later date.  If the accused is found guilty, the Judge will sentence the accused.

WARRANT
A warrant is a legal document that allows police the authority to arrest the perpetrator.

In order for a perpetrator to be arrested, a warrant must be issued. Warrants are issued by the Magistrate Court located at Charles Carnes Justice Building, Room J-135, 160 Pryor Atlanta, Georgia 30303.  The telephone number is 404-613-4752.