Minors Not In Possession of Alcohol Can Still Be Charged

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In the state of Georgia, any minor that has even just a small trace of alcohol in their blood stream can be charged with possession of alcohol, even if they do not actually have alcohol on their person. This can lead to an arrest for possession of alcohol, even if no bottles or drinks are physically present. This could lead to a potentially frightening situation should you find yourself with a police officer who smells alcohol on your breath or a faulty Breathalyzer that has led to false reading of your body’s blood alcohol content levels.

Now, all an officer needs to testify is to find an odor of alcohol on a minor’s breath. With one breath, an officer has a potential case against you. Should an officer wish to testify and the minor is convicted as a minor in possession of alcohol, the penalties are quite substantial, including the minor’s driver’s license possibly becoming suspended for six months. That is why it is important to find a criminal defense attorney in Savannah, or in the surrounding area, that is knowledgeable in this field, such as O’Brien Law Firm PC.

Alcohol on your breath is not the only way an officer can have a potential case, however. False readings from a machine that measure the blood alcohol content levels, like a Breathalyzer, can also lead to a conviction of this offense with just one breath. If you believe that you have undergone a Breathalyzer exam that found false results, it is important to find a Savannah criminal defense attorney to help back up your case. Being convicted of a crime that you did not commit can cause major issues for you in the future. Minors especially are can find themselves in quite a lot of trouble if a machine throws a false reading as the smallest trace can land them into a heap of trouble.

There are many options if you are charged as a minor in possession. If you are in need of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney that will try their hardest to help you fight against these charges, O’Brien Law Firm PC wants to help. If you believe a faulty machine was at work or that you were wrongly accused by a police officer that supposedly smelled alcohol on your breath, the best defense attorneys in Savannah, GA can help you figure out the best way to tackle this trial. Give them a call today.

The Best Criminal Defense for Teenagers and Young Adults

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If you or a loved one is ever in need of a criminal defense attorney in Savannah, GA, O’Brien Law Firm PC is the firm to contact. Teenagers can be arrested, just like adults, for breaking any law in Savannah, GA. Although teenagers get a more lenient prosecution and sentencing compared to adults, it is still important to have an expert Savannah criminal defense lawyer to protect the offender. Here at O’Brien Law Firm PC, we have a team of criminal defense lawyers that are knowledgeable in both adult and juvenile defense law.

Keep reading for examples of criminal cases, and how they are handled by the legal system

Teenage Pranks

Teenage Pranks (TP) are a common occurrence in Savannah, GA. Whereas the ideal situation is that most high school students are under the age of 18, it does happen that some 18-year-olds still find themselves in high school. Pranks are considered harmless, especially if no one gets hurt and no property is destroyed. The legal system in Savannah GA often lets serious pranks, by under 18-year-olds, slide with only a stern warning. However, in the event that an 18+-year-old (high school student) executes a teenage prank that goes awry, the leniency with which the law treats under 18-year-olds is no longer practiced. The 18+-year-old can be charged with trespassing and vandalism to the full extent of the law as he is considered an adult. An O’Brien Law Firm PC criminal defense attorney can represent the young adult in a light that poses him/ her (the offender) as a person whose emotional and cognitive functions are still those of a teenager in order to get a lenient sentencing

Possession of Drugs

As the abuse of prescription drugs, especially painkillers, increases in Savannah, GA, the laws that seek to curb this vice tighten. Teenagers (under 18 years old) can still be prosecuted for having prescription drugs, especially excessive quantities, without an authentic prescription. Unfortunately for 18+-year-olds, the possession of such drugs poses an even bigger legal implication that could earn them up to 9 years in prison. Again, an O’Brien Law Firm PC criminal defense attorney in Savannah, GA can mitigate the damage that such an offense can have on the offender through expert intervention.

Conclusion

Anyone in Savannah GA can find him/ herself on the wrong side of the law. Thankfully, O’Brien Law Firm PC has adult and juvenile defense attorneys that can handle each offender’s case with the expertise needed to minimize the legal implications of committed offenses on the accused. Whether its teenage pranks or the possession of drugs, young adults can get lenient sentencing such as would be granted teenagers, if and when they get adequate legal representation. If you find yourself facing a criminal charge in Savannah, GA, contact us for more information on your case, as well as stellar legal representation

Gun Rights: Long Term Consequences to Pleading Guilty in Georgia

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Quite a few rights can be denied if you are to plead guilty to certain crimes. Gun rights are a right that is often revoked for those who plead guilty to many crimes. Some convictions can even lead a defendant to be unable to possess a firearm for up to ten years. A few of these convictions include threats to public officers or police officers, possession of a deadly weapon with intent to intimidate or threaten a witness, and outright intimidation of witnesses.

A few violent crimes can lead to the defendant losing gun rights where an injury is created or a greater bodily injury could have occurred. These include assault, including any assault with a firearm, battery, and sexual battery. A grossly negligent discharge of a firearm will also result in gun rights being banned. As you might guess, domestic violence is an area where these rights are commonly revoked. No matter if there was measurable harm or not, stalking, threats, and harassment can also trigger a ban.

Another great annoyance to people who have found themselves in a banned state is the seemingly secret ban laws in place. This can cause a ten year ban that can actually lead to a lifetime ban according to federal law. These secret ban laws also restrict people with restraining orders from possessing a firearm. With the right Savannah criminal defense lawyer, you can more easily understand these supposedly secret ban laws.

Many people do understand that convicted felons are not allowed to possess guns. Mentally incompetent, insane, or mentally disordered sex offenders are also unable to possess firearms.

Expungement does not mean that your right to possess a firearm is automatically restored. Say you had what is known as a wobbler, or a felony conviction that should have been just a misdemeanor. In this situation, you could have the matter reduced, but then would have to expunge the conviction. Sometimes, however, the rights cannot be restored even after the ten year period. Those convicted of brandishing or discharging a firearm will likely be placed under a lifetime ban.

If you have been accused of a crime, or have family member that is in need of a criminal defense lawyer in Savannah, give O’Brien Law Firm PC a call today to learn more about your charges and how you should respond to them. They can answer many questions on crimes, convictions, and bans.

Common Criminal Defense Tactics

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There are several ways to defend criminal charges, but a common approach is to admit that the crime was committed, then argue that there is a reason this crime was committed which deems the action legal. This type of defense is known as an affirmative defense. Rather than denying evidence the prosecutor brings up, the defendant and attorney will argue among several types of defenses.

Arguing that charges go beyond the statute of limitations is one of the easiest ways to get criminal charges dropped. Crimes have a certain time limit in which the alleged perpetrator can be prosecuted. For example, if the statute of limitations on murder in a certain state is ten years, and you are charged with a crime that happened 15 years ago, the statute of limitations may be a successful defense.

The insanity defense is one approach that, while often depicted in fictional films or shows, is not used often and is difficult to successfully prove. However, it can be used in some cases. This argument allows the defendant to say that while they did commit the crime, they were unaware that the action was wrong. This requires a high level of proof. It can also backfire because the defendant is admitting to committing the crime, which can bring a guilty verdict if the defense doesn’t pass the level of proof required.

Coercion is another defense that can be used to get charges dropped. This defense is somewhat easier to prove than the insanity defense, and basically says that while the defendant committed the crime, he or she was forced to do it. An example of this would be if someone forces you to steal a woman’s purse by holding you at gunpoint. However, if you were engaged in illegal or reckless behavior that put you at risk in the first place, this defense will not work.

Self-defense is a rather common position to take as it doesn’t require a very high level of proof, just enough to create doubt. This argument again means admitting to performing the action; however, the defendant claims it was done in order to protect his or her person or property. A common example of this would defending yourself against someone who broke into your home.

There are certain standards of proof to all of these defenses; therefore, it is imperative to seek the representation or at least advice of an attorney prior to opting for any of these defenses. The defense chosen will be based on the evidence involved in the case, as well as the evidence the prosecution has against the defendant.

If you find yourself in need of advice or a criminal defense lawyer in Savannah, GA, contact Dennis O’Brien with O’Brien Law Firm PC. Dennis is a former police officer, years of experience working as a criminal defense attorney.

Understanding Your 2nd DUI Charge

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Because drunk driving can be extremely dangerous to both the driver and other motorists or pedestrians on the road, it is illegal to drive in the U.S. with a blood alcohol level above .08 percent. Laws vary from state to state regarding penalties, so if you are in need of a DUI defense in Savannah, GA, it is best to work with someone who has experience with drunk driving defense.

While penalties for a first DUI charge can be difficult to recover from, the penalties only increase with each offense. Laws are different for people under 21 years old, so be aware that the focus here is on 21 and over. If the second offense is within five years of the first, there are numerous potential penalties and fines involved. Some are mandatory and others can be negotiated in court with the aid of a good attorney.

Mandatory penalties include a minimum of two days in jail, and a minimum 18 month suspension of your license, that may extend as long as three years. In some cases, a restricted license may be offered for those that require transportation to work, though this is at the discretion of the judge and is often secured only by a good defense attorney. There is a minimum $600 fine, as well as a $210 fine in order to have your driver’s license reinstated at the end of the suspension. Special classes are required, the offender is required to pay all associated fees, and often there is a mandatory 30 days of volunteer or community service.

Another possible penalty invoked at the discretion of the presiding judge is an interlock ignition device, which will not allow the car to be started until a breathalyzer test is conducted and the BAC reads zero. There is also the possibility of a jail sentence ranging from three months to a year. All of these penalties and fines are determined by a judge, but some factors that influence a judge’s decision include the BAC level at the time, how any sobriety tests were conducted, and if the offender had a suspended license prior to the arrest and charge.

A good defense attorney can help guide the judge into minimal fines and penalties, which is especially important when it is the second charge, as the penalties are worse. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or other crime, contact me, Dennis O’Brien with O’Brien Law Firm PC. I’m a DUI criminal defense lawyer in Savannah, GA with years of experience. I can provide a unique set of skills to your defense as I am also a former police officer, so I know the process of arresting and booking from an insider perspective.

All About Defensive Driving School

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There are many advantages to signing up for a course on defensive driving (traffic school) from the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). Traffic school offers new and experienced drivers the opportunity to hone their driving habits and skills to help reduce the risk of getting a ticket or being involved in an accident.

Traffic school also offers a number of additional benefits, including:

  • Possible reduction of auto insurance rates
  • A reduction of points on your driving record
  • Dismissal of traffic violations
  • Reinstatement of suspended license

Voluntary Course vs Court-Mandated Services

Georgia drivers can take traffic school on a voluntary basis or as ordered by the Georgia traffic court due to receiving one or several traffic citations. Depending on the circumstances of the ticket and the particulars of a person’s driving history, drivers may be able to get their citation dismissed by successfully completing a course on defensive driving.

Every time a driver is convicted of a traffic violation, such as speeding, DUI or reckless driving, he accumulates points on his driving record to coincide with the violation. An accumulation of 15 points or more within a 2 year period will result in having your license suspended.

Every 5 years, drivers are given the opportunity to have points deducted from their record to avert license suspension by taking a defensive driver course. In the event your license has already been suspended, you must complete a driver course as a prerequisite to having the license reinstated.

What Does Traffic School Entail?

By taking a Georgia defensive driving course, drivers will learn and/or review:

  • Techniques for defensive driving
  • Good driving habits and skills
  • Georgia traffic regulations and violations
  • Alcohol and drug regulations and violations
  • Rules on sharing the road and safe driving

A typical defensive driving course will take about 6 hours to complete. All participants will be expected to take and pass a final exam before receiving a certificate of completion. This certificate will need to be submitted to the Georgia DDS to satisfy court requirements for restoring your driving privileges.

When faced with a serious driving infraction such as DUI, you may require the services of a competent DUI defense attorney in Savannah, GA. By contacting Dennis O’Brien at O’Brien law Firm PC, you can take the first step toward resolving your DUI infraction with positive results.

The Job of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Savannah, GA 

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No two criminal cases are exactly the same, and every criminal attorney has his or her own set of experiences. The very nature of the law is that of constant change, and a good attorney must be at the core of your defense strategy. Without the right representation, your chances at a favorable verdict are close to zero.

The best criminal defense attorneys are those who can do far more than represent you in court. They have the duty to make sure that your case is carried out correctly – and they can bring quite a bit to the table. Below are some of the duties of a criminal defense attorney in Savannah, GA that you might not have considered.

Negotiation

A great attorney will do his or her best to make sure the case never reaches the court room. He will always work as a passionate negotiator for your cause, seeking out dropped charges or a plea bargain on your behalf. The attorney knows the system in a way that a defendant simply cannot, thus bringing inside knowledge to the negotiation table.

Better Sentencing

If you are found guilty, your attorney may be able to find a better way for you to get through your sentence. He or she can fight for a reduced period of detainment, argue that you have served all or a portion of your time or might even argue that you deserve to go to a rehabilitation center instead of going to prison.

Keeps You Informed

One of the most important things a lawyer can do is to help you understand what is going on. He or she will let you know what your honest chances are of winning your case, and can give you the information that you need to make the right choices for your future. Whether your attorney is urging you to fight or to take a plea bargain, the lawyer’s advice is always useful.

This advice also extends to explaining what’s going on in your case. Your lawyer will let you know if a search is legal, if you should answer questions and what to do when you get into the court room. This valuable information might make or break your trial.

What Your Sentence Means

Your attorney can also give you information about what your sentence or plea will mean in the real world. He or she might let you know what to expect in prison, or what you might have to deal with if you plead guilty to a felony. This information can help you to make decisions that will be important for the rest of your life.

Hires Experts

Defense lawyers also hire experts in the field to help you. From witnesses to investigators, attorneys make sure that your alleged crime is viewed from every possible angle.

If you have been charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense lawyer in Savannah. I’m a seasoned attorney with years of experience – and I can help you. I’m Dennis O’Brien, and you can contact me at O’Brien Law Firm PC today.

FAQ’s about Burglary in the State of Georgia

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Criminal Defense Attorney in Savannah Dennis O’Brien –  Answering Questions About Burglary

Burglary is defined as illegally entering a building for the purpose of committing a crime. It is often referred to as housebreaking or breaking and entering. Keep in mind that a person can be charged with burglary even if he or she does not steal anything from the home. The vast majority of burglaries are committed in houses, but they can be committed in just about any building.

There are a number of questions that people frequently ask criminal defense lawyers in Savannah about burglary. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about this crime:

What Happens If I Break Into Someone’s House Without Stealing Anything?

Again, burglary may not involve stealing. If you break into a building, then you could be charged with burglary even if you do not steal anything. Burglary is a felony in the state of Georgia.

In some cases, simply going inside a person’s house can be grounds for a burglary charge. Here is an example of such a scenario:

A woman gets a restraining order against her ex-husband. The ex-husband shows up to her home and goes inside. This man could be charged with burglary. He could also be charged with aggravating stalking. Aggravated stalking is a felony in the state of Georgia.

What Exactly Constitutes Burglary?

In order for the crime to be considered burglary, a person must have an intention to steal or commit a felony. Without the intention to steal or commit a felony, one will be charged with criminal trespassing. Criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor in Georgia.

What Is The Penalty For Burglary?

Burglary is a crime that can have serious consequences. If it is your first offense, you could  spend anywhere from one to 20 years in prison. Upon a second offense, you could spend  two to 20 years in prison. If it is your third offense, then you could spend a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years. With the help of a Savannah GA criminal defense attorney, your chances of getting off with a lighter punishment will be greater.

If you or somebody that you know has been accused or charged of burglary, your first step should be contacting a seasoned attorney that can help guide you through your or your loved one’s case. Dennis O’Brien will work aggressively to protect your rights as a citizen, day and night.

Ignition Interlock Device FAQs

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If you are a man or woman that has been charged with multiple DUIs, you may have been ordered to use an Ignition Interlock Device or IID before you are able to operate your car. The IID is a fairly small machine, but a little bit larger than your typical cell phone. After this device has been installed in your car, you will not be able to drive it unless you provide the machine a breath sample that indicates that you have no alcohol in your blood stream.

When this device is combined with other alcohol-related treatment programs, it can be effective in lessening repeat DUI offenses. Listed below you will find some frequently asked questions and answers for your benefit:

Q: Is my Ignition Interlock Device able to detect medications that have alcohol in them?

A: Yes, your IID will most certainly detect the alcohol in your meds. These machines are designed to sense any alcohol that you may have in your blood stream regardless of the source. This includes mouthwash, cough syrups and many other over-the-counter products. During your Ignition Interlock Device training course, you will learn about which products present risks and which do not. It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid alcohol-based products altogether if you are trying to turn your car on with an IID.

Q: Can my spouse or relative use my car with an IID installed?

A: Yes, they can. It should be noted that if the person operating your vehicle does not pass the breath test of the IID, you will be the one held responsible. Each and every result that your IID puts in its memory bank will be tied back to you, not your spouse, relative or friend.

Q: I missed the service appointment for my Ignition Interlock Device. What will happen?

A: Most IIDs have the ability to remind you when it needs maintenance. If you notice the device flashing or making noise, it’s probably because it needs to be repaired or serviced. However, if you ignore the service notifications and ignore your appointment as well, the device will shut your vehicle off and lock you out of the car. The best way to avoid this mess is to show up to your appointment dates. If you miss one, contact the necessary organization or your probation officer and inform them of your issue.

Q: I’m not in the financial position at this time to pay for an Ignition Interlock Device. What can I do?

A: In certain cases a judge will grant you an Ignition Interlock Device waiver. In order to obtain this, you must be able to show the judge that paying for the IID is a serious hardship for you financially. The best way to be certain that you obtain a waiver is to consult with one or more Savannah criminal defense attorneys. An aggressive, seasoned lawyer like Dennis O’Brien will fight for your right to claim your waiver.

DUI and the Holiday Season

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Home for the Holidays

Most of us like to get together with friends and families during the holidays, and enjoy each other’s company with great food and great drink. It’s very common for men and women in Georgia to celebrate the season with a few cocktails at a party or a few beers at a bar. Police officers across the state know this, and are beefing up their numbers and cracking down on folks who may be driving under the influence.

According to statistics, holidays (and the days leading up to and following them) have alarming rates of accidents that are alcohol-related, sometimes resulting in injuries or even deaths. The GOHA or Governor’s Office of Highway Safety tells us that in 2012 between the 20th of November and the 31st of December there were:

  • 679 Injuries
  • 1,119 traffic incidents that involved alcohol
  • 20 fatalities

Incidents that were DUI related in 2012 were up 11 percent from the year before. Because of this fact, local law enforcement agencies have been teaming up with nonprofit organizations to produce a media campaign that focuses on preventing DUIs during the holidays. This collaboration is called TEAM Georgia and includes officials specializing in public safety, local businesses and local business owners, police officers, and famous athletes from various sports teams in Atlanta.

The result of this is a greatly increased presence of law enforcement on all roads and highways.

Drive Safe this Holiday Season

It’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of an automobile if you have had a few drinks, even if you feel like you can drive. If you make the decision to do so and you get pulled over, it is important that you contact an experienced Savannah criminal defense attorney such as Dennis O’Brien. The last thing that you want to have to explain to your friends or loved ones is why you can’t see them this holiday season because you are incarcerated for driving under the influence.

The O’Brien Law Firm PC’s team of professionals is here for all Georgia residents this holiday, so if you have been accused of a DUI or another crime, call our office for a free consultation to see how we can help you avoid hefty fines and long jail times.

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O'Brien Law Firm PC
33 Bull Street Suite 540
Savannah GA, 31401
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