Jeffrey E. Johnston

criminal defense Archives

Georgia judge rules search of rapper's car was illegal

A judge has ruled that police violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of rapper Jeffery Lamar Williams when they pulled his Mercedes-Benz Maybach over in October 2017. The March 21 ruling means that the drugs, cash and weapons allegedly found in the 27-year-old entertainer's vehicle cannot be used by prosecutors because they were the fruits of an illegal search. However, the ruling does not bring the case to an end as prosecutors could choose to go to court with their remaining evidence. The rapper faces up to five years in jail if he is convicted on all charges.

Arrest rates increasing sharply among all demographic groups

A report published in the academic peer-reviewed journal Crime & Delinquency suggests that a sharp rise in the number of young people taken into custody in Georgia and around the country is the result of more rigorous law enforcement. Researchers from the RAND Corporation reached this conclusion after studying data on thousands of American households that was collected over several decades by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

Carrying drugs in Georgia can result in serious penalties

Georgia residents who are charged with being in possession of a controlled substance could face significant penalties. Those penalties may include a driver's license suspension in addition to jail time and a fine. State law has separate sentencing guidelines for those who are found to be in possession of marijuana. The exact sentence depends on the quantity a person is found with. Those who possess 1 ounce or less of the substance could spend up to a year in prison.

Ruling could point to greater protection for mobile phones

For many in Georgia, tips on technological security can be important to protect personal privacy. National news stories about the breaches of data linked to large tech companies or the expansive reach of law enforcement databases may make many concerned about the amount of information they carry on their cell phones or other mobile devices. This is one reason why many experts advise people to rely on passcodes or phrases to unlock their mobile phones rather than many of the newer biometric options like fingerprint recognition, iris unlocking or facial identification software.

Book examines inequality in misdemeanor system

Some people in Georgia assume that facing misdemeanor instead of felony charges means that the consequences of conviction will be relatively light. However, in a book called "Punishment Without Crime," former federal public defender Alexandra Natapoff looks at the high cost of misdemeanor convictions.

Definitions of assault and battery in Georgia

In the state of Georgia, a person can be charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, without even touching another person. A violent threat is sufficient for a charge of simple assault. Simple battery involves making contact with the other person. The contact must be deliberate and provocative or insulting or must cause harm on purpose. Simple battery is also a misdemeanor.

First Step Act could affect criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform is a priority for many people in Georgia, especially those dealing with drug convictions or a federal criminal record. Years of criticism about unfairness in the system and its failure to enable re-entry into society have culminated in the new First Step Act. The bill is backed by an odd alliance that includes President Donald Trump alongside longtime criminal justice reform advocates like the ACLU. However, others have criticized the legislation for failing to address serious concerns and others have called it soft on crime.

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Jeffrey E. Johnston

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