Navigating the Criminal Case in Georgia

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Navigating a criminal case in Georgia can be challenging without a lawyer. That’s where Philip Kim Law, P.C. comes in. We are ready to help you. Book a free consultation today.


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on September 28, 2023.


Georgia’s Criminal Justice System

Georgia’s Criminal Justice System is a comprehensive framework that oversees legal proceedings related to criminal offenses within the state. As a vital component of the legal landscape, this system encompasses law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional institutions, all working together to ensure the administration of justice.

From the initial investigation and arrest to court proceedings and potential incarceration, the system plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law, safeguarding individual rights, and maintaining public safety. Understanding the intricacies of Georgia’s Criminal Justice System is essential for anyone navigating legal matters within the state, whether as a defendant, victim, or concerned citizen.

Criminal charges can be a traumatic experience, given the complexity of the criminal justice process in Georgia. As such, you may need the services of Criminal Lawyers in Lawrenceville to navigate the complex system.

Georgia Courts With Criminal Jurisdiction

Different Georgia courts handle criminal trials. Usually, the court that handles your case will depend on the type of crime and the circumstances of your case. That said, the following is a general summary of Georgia criminal courts and the cases they handle:

  • Georgia Superior Courts have extensive criminal jurisdiction. Superior Court hears felonies and misdemeanors.

  • State Courts operate with jurisdiction limited to a specific county, where they typically oversee misdemeanor cases like traffic violations.

  • Magistrate Courts issue warrants and hear minor criminal offenses and county ordinance infractions.

  • The county Probate Court can handle traffic tickets and misdemeanors. It may also handle state fish and game citations in counties without a State Court.

  • Municipal Courts in Georgia hear traffic offenses, preliminary hearings, warrants, and local ordinance infractions.

  • Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction over cases involving juveniles.

  • Georgia has two criminal appellate courts: the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Stages of the Criminal Process in Georgia

The Georgia criminal process starts with an arrest. During an arrest, a suspect is taken to the police station for questioning.

Arrests can happen with or without warrants. However, remember that you have rights. Before making a statement, consult a lawyer. After an arrest, the following stages may occur:

Initial Appearance

Law enforcement gives the District Attorney’s office its investigative file after inquiry. The suspect will now be formally indicted.

At the initial appearance, the judge ensures the prisoner understands the allegations. The judge also asks if the defendant has counsel or is impoverished and needs one. Every criminal has the right to legal representation, regardless of the charges.

Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing is when a judge hears and determines the case. Magistrate Courts typically hold preliminary hearings. At this stage, the judge tries to see whether there is enough evidence to prosecute, not to find guilt. If probable cause is found, the judge puts the case to the appropriate court for trial.

Grand Jury Review

A grand jury decides whether to indict and charge the arrested individual for all felony trials in Georgia. The grand jury indicts and charges the person if the bill is true. If the grand jury produces no bill, the case is dropped because there is insufficient evidence to charge the defendant.


During arraignment, the State Court or Superior Court judge reads the charges to the defendant. The suspect will then enter a guilty plea, not guilty, nolo contendere, or no contest at the arraignment. After pleading guilty or no contest, the case will be decided without a jury. The Court will schedule a trial date if a not-guilty plea is submitted.

Plea Bargaining

The prosecution and the defendant’s lawyer begin plea negotiation early in a case. It typically happens to prevent a trial but may continue during the trial. Each attorney tries to reach a compromise during plea negotiations. Plea negotiation can result in a guilty plea agreement for a lower charge. Sometimes the procedure fails, and the matter goes to trial.


A trial is a legal proceeding in a court of law. During trials, parties present evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. The judge or jury determines the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a civil or criminal case. Trials are a fundamental aspect of the judicial system. They are designed to ensure a fair and just resolution of legal conflicts.

Trial courts can either be by bench trial or jury trial proceedings. In a jury trial, your case is heard by 12 impartial jurors selected from your community. Bench trials are, however, heard by a single judge. A jury trial is guaranteed to criminal defendants by the US Constitution. You can waive that right and request a bench trial.

Can a Criminal Case Be Dismissed Before Going to Trial?

Sometimes, a defense attorney might get a criminal case dismissed before trial. Here are the most common reasons a criminal case can be dismissed before trial:

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecution must prove guilt in civil and criminal cases. If there is insufficient evidence to support the case, such a case may be dismissed.

No Probable Cause to Arrest

Our legal system requires police to have arrest warrants before conducting arrests. In some cases, they may arrest without a criminal arrest warrant if there is probable cause. Arrests without warrants or probable cause can be rejected.

Illegal Search or Stop Led to Charges

A police officer cannot randomly stop a car unless they break the law or have probable cause. The same regulations apply to your home and other personal belongings. Any evidence from an illegal search or stop may not count in court.

Missing Evidence and Witnesses

Eyewitness testimony and evidence are crucial to criminal cases. If evidence is destroyed and witnesses are unavailable, the prosecution may have to drop charges. This is a common domestic violence defense strategy

Hire a Lawyer Who Will Fight For Your Rights

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the complex court system in Georgia. You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the criminal case procedure and court proceedings alone. Having an attorney to help you build a strong defense strategy is well worth the cost.

That’s where Philip Kim Law, PC, comes in. Our criminal defense lawyers have the experience and resources to help you deal with your case quickly and effectively. We will help with the legal process and provide professional legal counsel.

We are ready to help you. Book a free consultation today.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Criminal Record in Georgia?

Georgia’s expungement method and timeline depend on the case, offense, and court workload. Georgia does not have a standard “expungement” process like other states. Instead, they use “record restriction” to hide certain offenses from the public. However, such records can be available to law enforcement and other organizations.

Is Georgia a Death Penalty State?

Yes, Georgia is a death penalty state in the United States. The State of Georgia allows the death penalty to punish serious crimes like murder. If you are facing a murder charge, it is important that you speak with Gwinnett County Criminal Lawyers.

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
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