Good criminal defense attorneys have a number of different methods they employ when defending people charged with crimes. Some methods, like listening carefully to the client and reviewing all evidence, including police reports, videos, and audios, are employed in every case. However, not every method is appropriate for each case. For example, a challenge to a traffic stop may be appropriate in some cases, but not applicable in others. Similarly, challenges to a statement taken in one case may not be appropriate in another case.
One method of criminal defense that may be appropriate in some criminal cases is referred to as a “conditional discharge.” A conditional discharge, if successful, allows a person to keep his or her record clean, and eventually results in dismissal of the charges. Obviously, a conditional discharge offers immense benefits. However, a conditional discharge is not offered in every case. Additionally, people who receive the benefit of a conditional discharge are expected to complete certain requirements to obtain this benefit.
Qualifying for a Conditional Discharge in Hall County Georgia
In order to qualify for a conditional discharge in Georgia, one must either be charged (1) as a first-time offender of a drug crime; or (2) as a minor for purchasing or possessing alcohol.
Drugs relevant to the first offense drug crimes qualification include:
- narcotic drugs
- depressants or
- hallucinogenic drugs.
Non-violent property crimes related to the accused's addiction to a controlled substance or alcohol can also qualify a first-time offender for a conditional discharge.
Acts relevant to the minor and alcohol qualification include:
- purchasing, attempting to purchase, or possessing alcohol when under the age of 21; and
- misrepresenting one's age while under the age of 21 for the purpose of obtaining illegally any alcoholic beverage.
One must also be guilty of that offense.
Georgia Conditional Discharge in Practice
The reason one must be guilty of the offense they are charged with is that in order to obtain the benefit of a conditional discharge one must enter a plea of guilty. This means one will be put under oath and must provide details about what he or she did that makes him or her guilty of the offense charged.
In a typical criminal case, the judge accepts the plea of guilty before proceeding to sentencing. In cases involving a conditional discharge, however, the court does not accept the guilty plea. Instead, the court imposes certain conditions on the defendant. The court will only impose a conditional discharge if the defendant agrees to it. This is because the person must consent to defer further proceedings, specifically, the acceptance of the guilty plea.
The conditions the court imposes in conditional discharge cases vary a bit depending on whether the plea is for:
- possession of controlled substances as first offense according to O.C.G.A. §16-13-2; or
- purchase or possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21 according to O.C.G.A. §3-3-23.1.
Conditional Discharge in Hall County Drug Possession Cases
In cases involving drug possession, the court imposes reasonable terms and conditions, much like traditional probation. One can expect one of those terms will include requiring the person to attend a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Where necessary, the court may impose medical treatment. The goal is to educate offenders on the ill effects of drug abuse. Further, the state of Georgia seeks to provide offenders with “knowledge of the gains and benefits which can be achieved by being a good member of society.” The court will also likely order the individual to remain law-abiding during the term of the conditional discharge. The term of probation may be up to three years.
Conditional Discharge in Hall County for Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
Similarly, in cases involving minors misrepresenting their age in an attempt to obtain alcohol, or persons attempting to purchase purchasing, or possessing alcohol, the court may impose a requirement for attending a drug treatment program of some kind. As with drug possession cases that result in a conditional discharge, the court will likely order the person to remain law-abiding during the term of the conditional discharge. The term of probation in these types of cases also may be up to three years.
Successful Completion of the Terms & Conditions of Conditional Discharge
For those offenders who are given a conditional discharge, once they have met the requirements imposed by the court, they are then discharged from probation. At this time, charges against the person are dismissed. No adjudication of guilt is ever entered on the record. Georgia state law specifically provides that a successful completion of a conditional discharge may not be used to disqualify someone for employment or appointment to office in either the private sector or the public sector.
Unsuccessful Completion of the Terms & Conditions of Conditional Discharge
Sometimes, a recipient of a conditional discharge fails to complete the terms imposed by the court. Whether it is the failure to complete treatment programs for drugs or DUI school or the failure to pay restitution as ordered or some other failure to comply with the terms and conditions set by the court, a person not in compliance will face consequences.
Upon a person's return to court, the judge has the power to accept the previously entered guilty plea. When this happens, the conviction is entered on the person's record, and he or she now has an established criminal record that carries with it additional collateral consequences, like negatively impacting the person's career.
Benefits of a Conditional Discharge in Hall County
For someone who is guilty of the crime charged, has no viable, strong defense exists and who has no prior record, a conditional discharge can be a positive outcome. It is not the best resolution in every case, of course, and that is why contacting an experienced alcohol- and drug-crimes attorney in Hall County Georgia matters.
Experienced DUI Drugs and Alcohol-Related Crimes Attorney in Georgia
If you are charged with a crime related to drugs or alcohol, you need a Hall County DUI defense attorney with a deep bench of possible approaches to your case. Whether you have a constitutional issue that can result in the suppression of evidence and dismissal of the charges or a fact issue that must be decided by the jury, you need a resourceful drug and alcohol crimes attorney in Hall County who can handle whatever issues present themselves.
Our criminal defense attorneys have a combined 50 years of experience handling criminal cases specific to alcohol and drugs. Richard S. Lawson also brings to the table his experience as a former prosecutor. Let us fight for you and help you get -- if applicable and the best option in your case -- a conditional discharge of your drug- or alcohol-related offense. Contact us online or call us at 404.816.4440 today. We have someone available to assist you any time of the day or night.