Monthly Archives: October 2014

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.

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Savannah GA, 31401
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