Criminal Defense

Criminal Defense Lawyers, Atlanta, Ga.

When your freedom is at stake, you must have the best legal representation possible to protect your rights and defend your liberties. Our attorneys have extensive courtroom and trial experience dealing with a wide variety of criminal matters. Building upon relationships we have in the legal community, Bell and Washington is able to yield favorable results to our clients who have been accused of committing alleged criminal acts.

Our areas of practice include misdemeanor and felony defense of:

  • Firearm possession
  • Possession of illegal narcotics
  • Shoplifting and theft
  • Probation violations
  • Assault and battery
  • Child molestation
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Family violence
  • Temporary protection orders

Our attorneys can assist you with almost any criminal matter. Contact us today at 404.437.6641 so that we can begin building your defense and protect your rights.

Criminal Law FAQ

What’s the difference between a police stop and being arrested?
Police may stop and question you, although you have the right to refuse to answer. While a stop detains you for a short time, you are not moved to a different location as with an arrest. In order for police to make an arrest, they must have “probable cause,” which means there must be a reasonable belief a crime was committed and that you were involved in the crime. If the police arrest you, they take you into custody and you may not leave.

Isn’t a warrant required for the police to search me?
In general terms, a warrant is required for police to initiate a search. If a police officer comes to your home, a warrant will be required to take you into custody. However, if the officer has reason to think you might run, destroy evidence or harm someone else, he can arrest you at home without a warrant.

If an arrest takes place somewhere other than your home, these circumstances dictate that a warrant is not necessary for search:

Consent. While you are not required to consent to any police searches, a warrant is not required if you consent to a search of your body, your vehicle, or your home. You always have the right to say no to a search and make the police get a warrant or use their discretion to search, which can be challenged in court

Searches incident to arrest. When making an arrest, a law enforcement officer is permitted to search your body and/or clothing for weapons or other contraband.

Vehicle searches. If you are in a vehicle and are stopped for questioning, the police still need probable cause to conduct a complete vehicle search that includes locked trunks, glove compartments, or other compartments.

Exigent circumstances. Searches may be conducted if there are “exigent circumstances,” for example, if the officer believes evidence may be destroyed unless he takes immediate action.

Plain view. When police see an object that is in plain view, a search warrant is not needed.

What should I do if I am arrested?
The moment you are placed under arrest, constitutional rights protect you. The only thing you have to say is, ” I want to speak with an attorney” or ” I have nothing to say now.”

When you are in police custody, under the Miranda Rule, you must be informed of specific constitutional rights before you are interrogated. Your rights are to:

  • Remain silent
  • Have an attorney present during questioning
  • Have an attorney appointed if you are unable to afford one

Why It Is Important To Remain Silent Until You Retain An Attorney

Police do not have to read your Miranda rights until they arrest you and can question you before taking you into custody. Anything you say before an arrest can be used against you later in court and anything you say after arrest may be used against you if a court determines that it is not the product of police questioning.

Additionally, many police vehicles and interrogation rooms have recording devices. Even if you believe you are alone or think the only other person there is someone with whom you were arrested, you need to understand that you may still be recorded and those statements could be used against you. Your decision to tell the police that you do not want to answer any questions or speak to them cannot be used against you in trial.

What is a booking?
After an arrest, you will be taken to a police station where you are “booked.” A booking refers to the process of officially entering your arrest in the police records. You will be asked your name, date of birth and address. You will be searched, fingerprinted and photographed. Personal property such as wallet, money and jewelry will be catalogued and stored.

What is an arraignment?
After criminal charges are filed, you will have a court appearance called an arraignment. At your arraignment, a judge officially reads the charges filed against you and you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

What is a bond? What if I cannot afford a bond?
A bond is an amount of money you must pay to be released from jail pending your appearance in court. If you pay a cash bond the money will be returned to you at the conclusion of the case. However, if you use a bonding company the money you give them is the fee to have them post your bond and you will not get this money back. If you are unable to make the bond that has been set, an attorney can either get you into court at an earlier court date to dispose of your case or he can request a bond reduction hearing for you, and ask the court to lower your bond.