Prosecutors who handle felonies in Georgia are district attorneys and assistant district attorneys. In many of the larger counties such as Fulton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, and Cobb County, the assistant district attorney or district attorney only handles felony offenses which are the most serious crimes punishable by at least a one year sentence and up to a life sentence.
District attorneys are elected public officials and in these large counties they maintain a staff of up to dozens of support attorneys called assistant district attorneys for the procedures who have great deal of impact over a person’s case. They treat felonies quite differently than misdemeanors.
Misdemeanors in the big counties are handled by state courts. Fulton County State Court, DeKalb County State Court, Cobb County State Court, and Gwinnett County State Court are run by the solicitor general’s office. The solicitor general is, like the district attorney, an elected official. The most serious crimes that the solicitor general’s office handles are misdemeanors. They cannot handle felonies; they prosecute misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail.
The solicitor general employs other attorneys who are called assistant solicitor generals who prosecute crimes such as driving under the influence, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, traffic violations, simple batteries, and simple assault involving husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. These crimes are viewed as the most serious crimes handled by the solicitor general’s office.
Each crime carries up to twelve months in jail. It is rare for a first time misdemeanor conviction to carry any jail time, although there is a mandatory minimum on driving under the influence, which is twenty-four hours in jail. Most misdemeanor crimes are resolved through simply paying a fine, taking educational courses, completing community service hours, or perhaps serving a brief period on probation.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows the courtroom and is familiar with the prosecutors who handle a person’s case. They know how to navigate the criminal justice system and obtain a successful result for resolution of the case whether they are dealing with the district attorney or the solicitor general’s office.
Violations of local ordinances can be charged in criminal cases and are most often prosecuted in the smaller municipal courts. It is important if a person is faced with a violation of the local ordinance to contact an attorney experienced dealing with municipal codes, municipal ordinances, and county ordinances. The attorney knows what type of penalties a person faces and how best to avoid the penalties.
In more serious cases, violations of local ordinances can be a way for prosecutors to attach additional probation for conviction of other crimes. If a person is charged with a DUI and a violation of a noise ordinance, they might receive an extra six months of probation on top of the twelve months of probation when they are convicted of a DUI. It is important to hire an experienced attorney who knows the effect and consequences of the charges, and the effect they can have on a person’s freedom and on their ability to stay free of unwanted probation time.