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Questions About Criminal and Civil Cases

How is civil litigation handled in Georgia?

Magistrate Courts in Georgia handle civil litigation up to $12,000.00.  You can file civil claims for a multitude of reasons including car accidents and personal injuries, tenant disputes and more. 

How do I protect my rights?

As American citizens, we enjoy certain constitutional rights, which are not to be violated.  When you were arrested, you should have been read your Miranda rights. You can inquire into why you were arrested and you do not have to answer questions regarding the accusations against you. You have the right to have an attorney when being questioned.

I have been charged with a crime, what should I do now?

Remember Georgia punishes conviction for criminal acts harshly with jail, probation, with large fines and surcharges. Many victim crimes require the payment of restitution.  

Most of Georgia's traffic laws result in the suspension of your driver's license, restitution to victims, large fines and court fees, incarceration in a jail. It takes experience with these types of crimes to navigate through the criminal justice system.  

What are some different types of criminal charges you represent?

  • Theft Crimes. These types of crimes involve taking or receiving another's property illegally. This may be through a direct taking, a deceptive act or converting someone else's property.  Many thefts include some type of scheme.  Understanding how the State puts these cases together goes a long way in properly defending this type of criminal charge.
  • Shoplifting. In Georgia, based on the amount of the items stolen, shoplifting can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor.  The State has the burden to prove the amount of the items as well as the manner in which the item was taken.  Shoplifting is also charged when an individual fraudulently refunds merchandise or changes pricing on items.
  • Assault. Assault occurs when your action places someone else in immediate fear of injury or death, the crime of assault is charged. This offense does not require actual physical contact or harm in order to be prosecuted. If the assault involves an intention to rape, rob or murder, the penalties you face will be substantially increased. Because actions sometimes speak louder than words, you need an experienced attorney to defend these crimes.
  • Battery. Battery is when you actually make physical contact with another person resulting in substantial physical harm.  In Georgia a battery against a spouse or other family member can be charged as Family Violence Batter.  The types of cases carry heavy fines, counseling and sometimes jail sentence.  In addition, FVA can affect your ability to be hired in certain jobs as well as affect your ability to own a firearm in Georgia.
  • Drug crimes. Georgia drug offenses include illegal possession, possession with intent to sell, distribution, manufacturing, trafficking, cultivation or driving under the influence of drugs. These crimes can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on various factors such as the type and amount of drugs involved and other circumstances. Because of the far reaching consequences of drug crimes it is essential you be represented by an experienced attorney. 

You should always contact an attorney whenever you or a family member is faced with criminal charges.  

Questions About Divorce and Child Custody

I want a legal separation? What should I do?

Legal separation is not something that you can file for. It is something that you do. If you are not engaging in a marital relationship, then you are legally separated, even if you are still living together.

I want a divorce. What should I do first?

If you want a divorce, you need to file for divorce in the county where the other party lives. There is an exception where a spouse leaves the county where the parties resided together during marriage and the divorce is filed within six months of separation.

How long should I expect the divorce to take?

Most cases take three to four months. If the case is settled, it can be finished within 31 day; however, some cases may take several months.

Can I date while my divorce case is being settled?

No. You are married until the divorce is granted and if you date prior to that, it can change custody issues, child support and monetary issues in the divorce. It will make the divorce more complicated, drawing it out and costing you more.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process by which a trained mediator helps the parties work out a mutually acceptable solution to their disagreement. Both parties and their attorneys meet with a mediator to help resolve some, if not all of the issues in their case. The process begins with both parties being open to reaching a resolution that they control instead of a judge or a jury. A mediator does not make decisions; they serve as a neutral person in the case. A mediator is the go between the two parties to help facilitate a settlement and help the parties to reach a resolution. If child custody is involved, mediation is mandatory.

What is child support?

Child support is a regular, ongoing payment a parent is asked to pay by family court to the party that has custody of the child. In many cases, this is based on the result of divorce, but not in every case. If neither parent has custody of the child, the third party with custody may request support from the parents

What is sole physical custody?

Sole physical custody is when the child lives with one parent and the other parent keeps court approved visitation rights.

What is joint physical custody?

Joint physical custody is when both parents maintain a significant amount of continual contact with the child.

What is sole legal custody?

Sole legal custody is when one parent has the right to make all decisions regarding the child. The other parent obtains visitation rights.

What is joint legal custody?

Joint Legal Custody is when both parents have the right to make decisions regarding the child; however, the parents must work together regularly for the best interest of the child

What is legitimation?

Legitimation is a process that allows a biological father to seek a legal relationship with an illegitimate child. Recently, Georgia passed a law that allows legitimation to be filed with a paternity action. Through the combination of these actions a father can establish both his biological and legal connection to a child.

What is voluntary legitimation?

Voluntary legitimation is when both parents consent and acknowledge the legal relationship between father and child.

What is contested legitimation?

Contest legitimation is when one party does not agree, and cases will have to be made before the court.

FAQ’s Related to Immigration

I have a criminal record. Can I still obtain citizenship?

If you have a criminal record, you can still obtain citizenship. You will need to work with an immigration attorney who can help you clear your criminal history.

Is there anything I can do to help my family members immigrate?

Yes, you can help your family immigrate to the United States. Reuniting family is of the highest immigration priority to the U.S Government; therefore, the law provides special considerations available for this type of situation. U.S citizens and permanent residents may file petitions for their parents, siblings, spouse and children to receive permanent residency?

If I am a permanent resident or United States citizen, can I apply for my family members to receive permanent residency?

Yes. U.S citizens and permanent residents may file petitions for their parents, siblings, spouse and children to receive permanent residency.

What steps can I take to be ready for immigration proceedings?

  • Important identity documents -With any application for immigration benefits, you are required to present nationality documents. Locate your consulate to make sure that you have a valid passport or identity document.
  • Physical Presence Proof - Start gathering proof that you have been living in the United States for as many years as you can find. Items like bills, pay stubs, tax returns, school records etc will be useful.
  • Start saving money - There will be a fee associated with the filing, and the possibility of a penalty for your illegal presence. It is always wise to consider hiring a licensed attorney who is familiar with the laws and regulations to help you file your case.
  • Criminal Convictions - If you have any arrests, you will need to show proof of the case disposition to determine whether you are eligible. USCIS can find out if you have been arrested, so make sure you disclose any and all arrests!
  • Documents from family members - If you have any family members who have lawful status in the US (permanent residents, citizens, DACA), make copies of their documents.

What is Deportation Defense?

Deportation Defense is an area of Immigration Law that concentrates on defending a person from being deported from the United States.

What is crimigation?

As an example, if you were charged in 2000, an attorney can go back and get that case reopened for a post-conviction release.

Me and members of the community want to learn more about the new immigration laws. Can you help?

Yes. Upon request, the attorneys at Gillsville Law will conduct community information sessions. We can come to your church, community center or other location to discuss the laws and recent changes.


I was just arrested for DUI what should I do now?

You need to act fast. Based on what you agreed to do at the time of arrest, you may be facing a license suspension before you ever go to court.  Understand that in Georgia you only have 10 days to request a hearing if you did not take a test or your results are greater than .08.  If you are under 21, you can be suspended for an .02 test result.