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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to see minor offenses in Georgia, such as nonviolent misdemeanors, become citation offenses only, i.e., no arrest. I would also like to remove the threat of jail time as punishment for most traffic offenses that do not involve a death, DUI, or reckless endangerment of some sort.

Really, is there any reason it would be bad for an officer who catches a person with a tiny trace of marijuana just to write a citation and release him with a court date?

Many states already do this.

I remember reading in Virginia about a guy carrying openly at a park with a city festival of some sort. The police wanted to harass him, and they charged him, but they had to write him a ticket and release him.

Compare to Georgia, where officers may arrest a person for carrying openly, charge him with carrying concealed, and let him spend the night in a concrete box.

Also, if you demand a jury trial for a misdemeanor traffic offense, are you aware that you may be risking $1,000 fine and a year in jail? Oh, of course it is not to punish you for demanding a jury, oh, no, it is just what is permitted. It's not retaliation or to scare you into paying the fine . . .

Has anybody here spoken to their State Representative or State Senator about this?
 

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Some counties are more reasonable, I understand you can get probation for gun crimes with a 5 yr minimum sentence, after you are convicted of course.

Even some very strict federal gun crimes do not apply with full force if you are a well known rapper.
 

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+1

I would like to add property crimes such as burglary, auto-theft etc to the list of folks that head to the graybar hotel, do not pass go.
 

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Looking through Dekalb Mugshots this morning, it's amazing how many folks (at least half, maybe more) are arrested and in jail this morning for nonsense like driving on a suspended license, disorderly conduct, possession of less than an oz of weed, etc. A waste of resources.
 

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This thread made me think of a great book I read years ago, "The Bonfire Of The Vanities" which is about an innocent guy who gets caught-up in the criminal justice system. At the end of the book, he describes himself as a "professional defendant", because the process is nightmarish, expensive and never-ending.

In the book, the criminal justice system is portrayed as a bureaucracy that is out of control, that views the populace only as fodder for its bureaucratic inertia (getting larger and larger). My point is, if the court dockets and jails suddently lose half their "customers", a lot of departments would be facing scrutiny concerning budget cuts and staffing reductions.

As long as the various branches of our government view crowded court dockets with the same sense of glee as a doctor looking at his or her crowded waiting room, I don't think much is going to change. And don't forget, everyone whose mugshot you saw in the paper was also a candidate for having his or her property and assets seized, which is a multi-billion dollar "business" for our government.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
AtlantaJames said:
+1

I would like to add property crimes such as burglary, auto-theft etc to the list of folks that head to the graybar hotel, do not pass go.
Those are felonies, so I really was not discussing have burglars and car thieves released on a citation with a court date.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
rainmaker said:
I don't think much is going to change.
If you do not try, then your odds of success are 0%.
 

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Good post, MP.

Reform of our (Georgia and the US) justice system(s) is desperately needed. Minor offenses become an excuse to put in motion the entire machinery of the state against someone and it seems pointless and expensive. Even if "malum prohibitum" crimes continue to be punished for now, you are absolutely right that the procedure for handling them should be different.

Even for worse offenses, the penalties -- whether applied or not -- are often too severe. It's too easy to rack up the possibility of facing 10,15, or 20 years in prison from non-violent felonies, even if in practice the sentences typically don't yield that much punishment.

An example: I have a friend who was recently arrested for DUI. It was stupid of him and he should not have been driving, but he wasn't completely wasted, he wasn't driving recklessly or swerving, and he didn't hit anyone. The cop pulled him over for stopping after the white line before making a right hand turn at a red light. Yet the state (FL) is asking for a SIX month jail term. I'm completely against driving under the influence and I agree with DUI laws, but that seems excessive. A few weeks and a stiff fine (plus loss of driving privileges) would get the message across just fine.
 

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So we should "rocket docket" them?
 

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Coincidentally, SWMBO and I were discussing this yesterday. The COSTS to every citizen for processing and incarceration are collectively astronomical.

Some folks MUST be incarcerated. I think the citizens of Georgia, through their elected state representatives, can find a way to keep public safety, but reduce costs. In the process, Georgia can go a long ways towards respecting liberty.

Good post MP! Some insightful comments thus far.
 

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Malum Prohibitum said:
I would like to see minor offenses in Georgia, such as nonviolent misdemeanors, become citation offenses only, i.e., no arrest. I would also like to remove the threat of jail time as punishment for most traffic offenses that do not involve a death, DUI, or reckless endangerment of some sort.

Really, is there any reason it would be bad for an officer who catches a person with a tiny trace of marijuana just to write a citation and release him with a court date?

Many states already do this.

I remember reading in Virginia about a guy carrying openly at a park with a city festival of some sort. The police wanted to harass him, and they charged him, but they had to write him a ticket and release him.

Compare to Georgia, where officers may arrest a person for carrying openly, charge him with carrying concealed, and let him spend the night in a concrete box.

Also, if you demand a jury trial for a misdemeanor traffic offense, are you aware that you may be risking $1,000 fine and a year in jail? Oh, of course it is not to punish you for demanding a jury, oh, no, it is just what is permitted. It's not retaliation or to scare you into paying the fine . . .

Has anybody here spoken to their State Representative or State Senator about this?
I completely agree with you. I would love to see that exact same thing in GA.

When DKing told me that you can be arrested for any misdemeanor violation in GA, I was shocked. I didn't know that. I knew there was officer discretion, but I thought there were certain offense they just couldn't arrest you for. That's not the case right now.
 

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spector said:
Minor offenses become an excuse to put in motion the entire machinery of the state against someone and it seems pointless and expensive.
I cringe in annoyance when I hear the phrase "cracking down" on the news or PSA's. :roll:

rainmaker said:
This thread made me think of a great book I read years ago, "The Bonfire Of The Vanities" which is about an innocent guy who gets caught-up in the criminal justice system. At the end of the book, he describes himself as a "professional defendant", because the process is nightmarish, expensive and never-ending.
 

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Ralston seems open to this idea.
The House leader suggested one of those probing questions could involve a rethinking of the state's drug laws.

"We're going to have to start a discussion, I believe, about our policy in terms of how we incarcerate people in Georgia.
"We're spending a huge amount of money locking people up that have drug problems," he continued. "At some point the people of Georgia have a right to ask if that's an appropriate way to spend their tax dollars."
Edit: link
 

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While that's a GREAT idea I don't think it will work. You'd have too many opponents. Now I'm not sure how other counties work but in Chatham County when someone is arrested in Savannah and taken to the county jail, the county charges the city for that inmate. Other cities are also charged for basically what I call "rent" when an inmate is in jail up to a certain number of days. If that would to happen that would cut the revenue that the jail/county would be receiving from the cities.
 

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EJR914 said:
I completely agree with you. I would love to see that exact same thing in GA.

When DKing told me that you can be arrested for any misdemeanor violation in GA, I was shocked. I didn't know that. I knew there was officer discretion, but I thought there were certain offense they just couldn't arrest you for. That's not the case right now.
That's not entirely correct. "40 Code" offenses (traditionally traffic offenses) that are not specifically enumerated as felonies are misdemeanors, and arrests can only be made for traffic offenses for which a license may be suspended upon a first offense such as DUI or reckless driving. Technically, things such as running red lights/stop signs, not wearing a seatbelt, even speeding, etc, are misdemeanors for which a person can not be arrested for those offenses alone.

It would be correct for "16 Code" offenses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
legacy38 said:
EJR914 said:
I completely agree with you. I would love to see that exact same thing in GA.

When DKing told me that you can be arrested for any misdemeanor violation in GA, I was shocked. I didn't know that. I knew there was officer discretion, but I thought there were certain offense they just couldn't arrest you for. That's not the case right now.
That's not entirely correct. "40 Code" offenses (traditionally traffic offenses) that are not specifically enumerated as felonies are misdemeanors, and arrests can only be made for traffic offenses for which a license may be suspended upon a first offense such as DUI or reckless driving. Technically, things such as running red lights/stop signs, not wearing a seatbelt, even speeding, etc, are misdemeanors for which a person can not be arrested for those offenses alone.

It would be correct for "16 Code" offenses.
Thanks, Legacy.
I thought that there was a code from the 1990s mandating the license as bail, but when I looked, what I found was what I posted above (from title 17), seeming to say it is left to discretion? Could you help us out with the law?
 
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