KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

GEORGIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW & MILITARY DEFENSE LAW

Ultimately, trial litigation is a complicated form of storytelling. The trick is to make it interesting, yet digestible for the jury. This is easier said than done. It takes knowledge, skill, and experience to adequately paint an accurate picture in court.

The more you know, the more you will be prepared for this legal process and the more you will understand the reasons for your trial lawyer’s strategy and game plan in and outside of court. Below, you’ll find a number of resources on Criminal Law and Military Law. When in doubt, contact Attorney Brad Dixon at (912) 525-0555 or send him an immediate message.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW
MILITARY DEFENSE LAW
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

GEORGIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE

PROVIDING SOLUTIONS & ANSWERS FOR GEORGIA’S WRONGFULLY ACCUSED

Frequently Asked Questions

DUI IN GEORGIA

Under the laws in Georgia, there are a few different types of DUIs. In this video, Attorney Brad Dixon explains what you need to know about a DUI charge in Georgia.

BAIL AND BOND IN GEORIGA.

Bail and bond are two different things. In this video, Attorney Brad Dixon will explain the key differences, and what factors will dictate your release from jail while you wait for trial.

More Frequently Asked Questions


What does Probable Cause mean in a Georgia criminal case?

Probable cause refers to a police officer’s reasonable belief that someone has or intends to commit a crime. Probable cause goes beyond a gut feeling; the officer must have sufficient reason based on facts and circumstances known to them to conduct a search, issue a search warrant, make an arrest or seize property that is believed to be evidence of criminal activity.

The probable cause standard exists to prevent unwarranted, abusive and/or random searches. Lack of probable cause or failure to adhere to lawful procedures during a search and seizure is a defense that Criminal Defense Lawyers can use to reduce or dismiss a criminal charge.


What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and felony in Georgia?

Unlike many other states, Georgia does not designate criminal offenses by class (for example, “Class A felony”). Instead, Georgia classifies crimes by misdemeanors and felonies. While sentences for both classifications can be life-altering, misdemeanor crimes are typically punishable by less than one year in a local jail and up to a $1,000 fine. On the other hand, felonies are punishable by one or more years in prison.

Serious felonies are punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty. To learn more about charges and potential penalties in Georgia, see our Georgia Criminal Defense page for categories of criminal offenses.


If I have been brought in by the police for questioning, do I have a right to an attorney?

You have a 6th Amendment right to ask for an attorney if you are being interrogated by the police. In fact, you have the right to an attorney at almost every important phase of the criminal process, except while being arrested.

If you are being arrested, you have a 5th Amendment right to remain silent. You do not have to offer the police evidence or information that could later harm you at trial. Unfortunately, many criminal suspects are overly confident that they can handle police questioning on their own. However, answering questions without a qualified criminal defense attorney can cause a suspect to dig a hole that is very difficult to climb out of later. This is due in part to the fact that police interrogators are trained in the psychology of obtaining confessions, even false ones. Additionally, the police are legally allowed to lie to suspects during questioning.

Therefore, for practical reasons, be polite and respectful if you are stopped or approached by a police officer. If they want to bring you in for questioning, you should immediately exercise your 5th Amendment right to remain silent by declining the invitation, and exercise your 6th Amendment right to an attorney by directing them to your Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer.


If a police officer pulls me over, do I have to answer questions like how much I had to drink?

No! You have a 5th Amendment right to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate you. Therefore, politely decline to answer the question when you have been pulled over by the police for suspicion of driving under the influence, and asked whether you have been drinking and/or how much you have been drinking. Although you have this constitutional right, a police officer may believe that your exercise of this right means that you have indeed committed a DUI or some other criminal offense (which is not true).

Because of these practical considerations, always be polite when speaking with the police and very selective about what you say. If you decline to answer their questions, do so politely. If you choose to answer, do not lie!


Do I have to take a breath test or field sobriety test?

There are two types of breath tests. Prior to being arrested, the police officer may offer you a “road-side breath test” called an Alco-Sensor test. This test is not admissible in court, and it is totally voluntary. You do not have to take this test unless you want to do so.

The second type of breath test is conducted on a more accurate (but not totally accurate) machine located at the police station. This machine is called an Intoxilyzer 9000. The results of the Intoxilyzer 9000 are admissible in court. If you are arrested, you will likely be offered to take this type of breath test.

Under Georgia’s Implied Consent law, you impliedly consent to providing a sample of your breath, blood, or urine after a lawful arrest for DUI. If you refuse to give a sample, your drivers license will automatically be suspended for one year. From that point forward, you have 30 days to appeal the license suspension to the Department of Driver Services and request an Administrative License Suspension Hearing. However, recently the Georgia Supreme Court has held in Elliot v. State that the the refusal to submit to a breath test cannot later later be used against you at trial. This ruling, however, does not apply to blood samples. So, if you refuse to provide a blood sample, your refusal can, and likely will, be used against you at your criminal trial.

So, if you refuse to take an Intoxilyzer 9000 breath test after being arrested, you may lose your license for a year, but it cannot hurt you at your criminal trial.

MILITARY CRIMINAL DEFENSE

PROVIDING SOLUTIONS & ANSWERS FOR MILITARY SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN

Frequently Asked Questions

THE COURT-MARTIAL PROCESS.

There are four levels of Courts-Martial: Summary, Special, BCD Special and General. In this video, Attorney Brad Dixon focuses on General Courts-Martial, which resembles the felony level process of the civilian court system.

ARMY SEPARATION BOARDS

Soldiers may be administratively separated from the Army, but in certain situations a Soldier is first entitled to a separation board.

More Frequently Asked Questions


What are my military legal rights?

As a service member of the United States Armed Forces, you have dedicated your career to protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens domestically and those living aboard. You also have legal rights that deserve to be protected.

Unfortunately, many service members suspected or accused of an offense never have the ability to tell their side of the story and effectively assert their military legal rights. Even if they can, it quite often falls on deaf ears. Investigations are biased and often conducted by investigators with little experience.

You have legal rights under the U.S. Constitution, Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”), Manual for Courts-Martial, Executive Orders, and federal and state statutes. These sources provide you with a number of rights, but your most basic rights include the following:

  • Article 31 Rights – Under Article 31, you have the right to remain silent and be informed of the general nature of the UCMJ offense of which you are suspected, and you must be advised of this right when subject to questioning that may result in formal charges. Note that your Article 31 protections are stronger than civilian Miranda protections because unlike a Miranda Warning, the Article 31 advisory rule is triggered regardless of whether the military suspect is in custody. The Miranda rule is not triggered until the suspect is in custody. “In custody” is a legal term which means a reasonable person (“not the suspect”) in the same circumstances would not feel that they were free to leave.
  • Right to Counsel – If you are being investigated for a military crime, you have a constitutional right to have an attorney present during questioning and defend you during proceedings. That attorney can be an appointed military defense attorney, but we strongly encourage you to ask your appointed attorney about their level of legal and trial experience. You also have the right to hire your own a private Military Defense Lawyer. However, not all private attorneys have military legal experience. Therefore, when your military career and your family’s financial security is in jeopardy, you need an experienced Military Defense Lawyer you can trust and depend on to represent you at every stage of the military’s unique litigation process.
  • Right to Refuse a Search – You have the right to say “no” to a search of your car, home, computer and bodily fluid. Without understanding your military legal rights, you could unintentionally hand over incriminating evidence to your commander or investigators. Therefore, ask to speak with an experienced Military Defense Lawyer before consenting to a search.


Why should I hire a Civilian Military Lawyer?

As mentioned above, you have the right to hire your own private, civilian Military Defense Lawyer. However, not all private civilian lawyers have military legal experience. The U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society…the rights of men in the armed forces must perforce be conditioned to meet certain overriding demands of discipline and duty.” Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733 (1974). In other words, the service members are subject to a military justice system developed upon laws and traditions of its own.

Our Coastal Georgia Military Defense Lawyer is a former military prosecutor and military defense counsel who has advised and represented hundreds of soldiers throughout his military career. Allow him to put his military legal experience to work for you!


What kind of cases does your Military Defense Law Firm handle?

Our Military Defense Law Firm represents and advises military service members facing Courts-Martial, Separation Boards / Boards of Inquiry, and Non-Judicial Punishment (Article 15). Our Coastal Georgia Military Defense Lawyer is a former Military Prosecutor and Defense Counsel who has litigated cases involving drug offenses, larceny, rape, sexual assault, various sexual offenses against children, positive urinalysis tests, officer misconduct and many other allegations of military misconduct.


What is an Article 32 Hearing?

Unless you have waived your right to a pretrial hearing, an Article 32 Hearing must be conducted before a case may be referred to a General Court-Martial (“GCM”).

This probable cause hearing affords you an opportunity to challenge the evidence the government has against you before being formally charged and tried for a military crime. During an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing, the government must present all of its evidence to an impartial Preliminary Hearing Officer. If the Preliminary Hearing Officer finds that the government has presented enough sufficient evidence against, then he/she will likely recommend to your commander that your charges be referred to a General Court-Martial. Only then can your case be referred to a General Court-Martial.

A GCM is the highest and most serious of Courts-Martial proceedings. We strongly encourage you to speak with a knowledgeable Military Defense Lawyer before making a decision about your Article 32 Hearing.


Can I be punished for my off-post conduct?

Yes. Off-post conduct is governed by the UCMJ whether you are on or off duty, even if you are on leave. Therefore, all active duty service members are required to follow all applicable UCMJ rules while off post.

Local law enforcement does not have legal authority (or jurisdiction) to enforce violations of the UCMJ. However, if you are caught committing an off-post crime by a civilian police officer, you can be tried in either the state’s criminal system or the military’s legal system, or both.

Given that the UCMJ is a federal law, and that courts-martial are federal courts, you can be prosecuted by a court-martial and by a state court at the same time, and it does not qualify as double jeopardy. This is due to the fact that the state and the military are dual sovereigns under the law. However, if you commit an offense off-post that only violates the UCMJ, but it does not violate state law, (failure to report to formation, for example), then you would only be prosecuted at a court-martial, and not by the state.

You Have Constitutional Rights

Know Your Rights When Pulled Over by the Police

You have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle.

 You have a 4th Amendment right to refuse unreasonable searches and seizures.

You have the right to remain silent.

You have a 5th Amendment right to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate you.

You have the right to speak with an attorney.

You have a 6th Amendment right to an attorney at almost every important phase of the criminal process, except while being arrested.

Ultimately, you have the right to remain innocentDo not physically resist the police, argue with the police, or lie to the police. On the other hand, you do not have to incriminate yourself either. If answering a question would incriminate you, simply decline to answer the officer’s question. Practically speaking, even with this constitutional right, a police officer may believe that your exercise of this right means that you have indeed committed a crime. Do not argue with them; save that argument for the lawyers in court.

There are instances where you could do everything right during a police-stop, and still experience an unreasonable search and seizure, or unjustified arrest. In these instances, continue to be polite, respective, exercise your constitutional rights, and contact our qualified Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible.

Civilian Courts vs. Military Courts

The difference between the standard Miranda Warning and UCMJ Article 31(b) Warning is actually pretty important. In the military, if a service member is questioned by another service member, the suspect must be informed of the nature of the alleged violation. In other words, if you are called to the Criminal Investigation Command (“CID”) for questioning and your rights are read to you, CID must generally inform you about the law they believe you violated. This comes in handy, especially when you have no clue why you are sitting in a CID office.

Learn the distinct differences between the civilian Miranda Warning and an Article 31(b) Warning, and gain insight into the military’s criminal investigation process by reading Part 1 of “Criminal Investigations – Pulling Back the Curtain.”

The Defense You Need Starts Here

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