Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

6245D8B7-1C7D-4D66-81A6-905E850A5D4A-300x188As the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, spreads across the world, families across the globe are being encouraged to practice social distancing as much as possible. This means that schools are being closed and people have been told to self-isolate in their homes. It’s a necessary measure, meant to combat a significant public health emergency. It’s also a measure that could put many children in danger. This April, be aware that cruelty to children is a serious issue, whether a child you know is being abused, or you have been accused of child cruelty. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you are facing child cruelty charges.

There has been a noticeable drop in calls to child abuse hotlines in the weeks since social distancing measures were enacted across America. At first glance, this might seem like good news. Unfortunately, many experts believe that this drop in reports of child abuse and neglect is due to children no longer attending school or daycare, keeping them away from teachers, childcare workers, and other adults who have a mandatory duty to report any suspected child abuse.

Research shows that when parents lose their jobs, children can be negatively affected in a variety of ways, including an increase in harsh or neglectful parenting. COVID-19 has caused a wave of unemployment, as businesses are forced to lay off workers due to a staggering loss of revenue, with certain sectors, such as the travel industry, being hit especially hard. In fact, some economists have speculated that the unemployment rate could hit 32 percent due to COVID-19 – worse than the Great Depression’s peak of 24.9 percent.

6dfd6e82-aded-4b39-bd9e-3ca319f86404-300x200Concern over the abuse of opioids has been a public health concern in Georgia for years. From 2010 to 2017, there was a 245% increase of deaths from opioid overdose in Georgia. In fact, two thirds of all drug overdose deaths in Georgia in this time period were attributed to opioid abuse. This problem has been significant enough for President Trump to declare the opioid crisis a public state of emergency.

Much of the legislature surrounding opioid abuse seeks to treat opioid overdoses and make alternatives more available in order to prevent prescription drug abuse. However, a study at the University of Georgia proposes an alternative approach to how we handle the opioid epidemic throughout Georgia and across the United State. Instead of diverting resources towards curbing the use of opioids, the study argues, we should look at a culprit behind opioid addiction – chronic disease.

The term “opioid” specifically refers to a broad class of drugs, including multiple prescription drugs such as morphine, oxycodone, and codeine, and the illegal drug heroin. All of these drugs interact with the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This dulls the body’s pain signals and emotional responses to pain, diminishing the body’s response to painful stimuli. Opioids also activate pleasure and reward centers in the brain, leading to a feeling of relaxation and euphoria.

broken-heart-syndrome_Blog_Float_RightFebruary 14 is Valentine’s Day, a day created to recognize the importance of the love we hold for one another. For most of us, Valentine’s Day means showing our loved ones how much we care with romantic gestures and well-meant gifts of flowers and chocolate. Sadly, for some people, Valentine’s Day means a brief reprieve from their abusive relationship. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Valentine’s Day is one of three days (alongside Christmas and Thanksgiving) where there is a slight decrease in reports of domestic abuse in the United States. That brief moment of relief is cold comfort for those who are victims of family violence.

Despite the name, family violence does not have to occur between family members. Under Georgia law, family violence is defined as any pattern of deliberately violent and abusive behavior between people in a domestic relationship, committed with the intent of establishing power and control. This includes parents and children, spouses and intimate partners, and roommates or housemates. There does not have to be physical abuse for an act to count as family violence either – if someone subjects a person fitting one of the above categories to emotional abuse, threatens to hurt them, stalks them, or deliberately damages their property, they can also be charged with family violence.

Despite the slight downtick in reports of domestic violence this Valentine’s Day, there are still bound to be lovers’ quarrels. These arguments can escalate into a domestic disturbance… and the situation might not be perfectly cut and dry. It takes two to tango, and there are unique circumstances leading to every incident. For example, you might be trying to get away from an argument with a partner that turned physical or fighting back against a spouse who attacked you first. Unfortunately, this might not save you from being charged with family violence if the police are called to your house.

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The legalization of marijuana is a hot-button issue in the United States. As of this writing, marijuana is legal for purchase by adults over 21 in 11 states and legal for medical use in 33 states. Cannabis has become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the states that have legalized it, with sales figures expected to only continue increasing over time. At the same time, marijuana is the drug one is most likely to be arrested for possession of, with 663,367 arrests involving marijuana in 2018 alone.

While public opinion towards marijuana legalization has shifted favorably as of late, it is still considered an illegal narcotic substance in numerous places across the US. Georgia’s marijuana laws are especially strict, although limited use of cannabis and cannabinoid products is allowed under its medical marijuana and hemp laws. However, there was a time that cannabis was not considered a narcotic drug and was, in fact, perfectly legal. What happened to change its reputation?

The history of cannabis use and cultivation in North America dates back to the 1600s. Colonists were encouraged – and in Virginia, legally required– to grow cannabis plants, as hemp could be used to make a variety of different products. Hemp fell out of popularity as a material by the Civil War, but the cannabis sativa plant remained popular as an ingredient in various medicines and tinctures. From 1850 to 1937, cannabis-based medicines were a common sight in general stores and pharmacies, where they were used to treat everything from muscle spasms to the common cold.

driving-stoned-thcf-uMost everyone would agree that drinking and driving is a deadly combination. But even if the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are well understood, the same cannot be said for the risk of driving under the influence of marijuana.

According to a major national survey, nearly half of the regular cannabis users in the United States believe that operating a motor vehicle while stoned is not dangerous. However, a recent study appears to contradict this belief.

This recent study, which was reported this Tuesday in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, recruited 28 heavy cannabis users and 17 non-users and placed them in a driving simulator. The cannabis users exhibited multiple dangerous driving behaviors – running red lights, hitting pedestrians, driving at high speeds, and getting into accidents. They were also much more likely to exhibit impulsive and rash behavior patterns than the group that did not use cannabis.

new-cbd-gummies-300x200Marijuana is a substance that can come in many forms. The leafy green cannabis that you smoke might be the most well-known, but there are many other ways that the cannabis sativa plant can be consumed. The legalization of marijuana in other states has paved the way for the development of huge variety of cannabis products. This includes everything from devices that disperse cannabis into a vapor to tinctures and oils that can be applied topically, allowing it to be absorbed by the skin.

One of the most popular ways to consume marijuana is the creation of cannabis edibles. This includes pot brownies, cannabis-infused gummies, and hash cookies. Edibles have experienced a dramatic rise in popularity across the United States, especially in states like Alaska, Colorado, New York, and Washington, where they are legal for purchase. According to one study, 46% of those polled and 93% of those in favor of legal marijuana said they would be willing to try cannabis edibles if they were made legal for purchase.

The rising popularity of cannabis edibles has made law enforcement more aware of their existence. This means that cops looking to make a marijuana-related arrest aren’t just on the lookout for bags of weed. They’re also keeping an eye out for brownies, gummies, cookies, and other edible goods that give off the distinct smell of concentrated marijuana. And despite what you might think, being caught with even one edible in Georgia can land you in a great deal of trouble.

If the police seized your money, car, or other property, we can help protect what’s yours from wrongful civil asset forfeiture.

I’ve had several clients call recently because their property had been seized – wrongfully. Civil asset forfeiture became the norm during the 1980s war on drugs. It was intended to confiscate ill-gotten gains from drug kingpins. Over time, these seizures provided a tremendous source of revenue to cities, counties, and states. In 2014, for example, federal forfeitures exceeded $4.5 billion. Incentives to abuse processes are huge.

In fact, a study proved that the problem with civil forfeiture is less a problem with individual officers and more a problem with civil forfeiture laws themselves. Police have outright admitted that civil forfeiture creates a powerful temptation to seize property, with one police chief referring to forfeiture funds as “pennies from heaven”. For more on the need for reform in civil asset forfeiture laws, see Policing for Profit.

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The Lessons and Memories Football Afforded Me

I spent my entire football career on the offensive line. I liked being part of the action, defending the quarterback from linemen who were gunning for a sack.  In college, I was a tackle, and I was moved to the guard position, where I played through the remainder of my career. Sure, I rarely ever got the chance to touch the ball — unless I jumped on it during a fumble — but that position fit me like a glove.

As a kid, I was engrossed in football, and I loved watching my Green Bay Packers. Jerry Kramer, who was a pulling guard for the Packers, was my hero, and I wanted to be a pulling guard just like him. All my friends played the sport, so I began in the peewee leagues.

Hemp

On May 10, 2019, Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Hemp Farming Act (HB 213) into law. This bill allows farmers in Georgia to legally grow and sell industrial hemp, a strain of the cannabis Sativa plant.  Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the chemical responsible for the “high” felt when smoking marijuana. It is therefore not considered a Schedule I substance.

The text of HB 213 only addresses who can grow and sell hemp. However, many law enforcement officials feel its wording makes hemp possession legal by default. It does not, however, legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in Georgia. Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is still a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine up to $1,000. Possession of more than an ounce is considered a felony, with the maximum sentence being up to ten years in prison.

HB 213 has carried an unforeseen consequence for Georgia law enforcement. There is currently no way for police to accurately measure the THC concentration in cannabis. This has made it difficult for law enforcement to accurately distinguish between marijuana and the now-legal industrial hemp. As a result, different counties around metro Atlanta have been forced to change their approach to prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases.

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Do I have to disclose my legal troubles to my employer?

When you’re arrested, many questions can leave you unsure of what to do next. Of the many questions that crop up, you may be asking yourself, “Do I have to tell my employer?” An attorney can help you determine what the correct response is for your situation, but generally speaking, the answer is complicated.

Georgia law gives employers the right to “employ at will,” which means they can hire or fire an employee for any reason, so long as it’s nondiscriminatory. In addition, many applications ask prospective employees to disclose their legal records. This can be a tricky thing to navigate as well because whether you have to disclose is a case-by-case basis.

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