Friday, May 20, 2011

Police Blotter Explained

A police blotter is a written record of daily arrests in your area. Although you may be familiar with the blotter format, some of the terminology can be confusing. Georgia’s Criminal Code is defined in O.C.G.A. §§ 17-1-1 – 17-18-2.  A brief explanation of common charges is listed below:

·         Criminal Trespass : intentionally damaging the property of another in the amount of $500 or less; or entering the property of another for an unlawful purpose or without their authorization

·         Theft: taking property from another without their consent
o   by Taking: unlawfully taking the property of another
o   by Deception: obtaining the property of another by misleading
o   by Shoplifting: taking merchandise from a retail establishment
o   by Receiving: receiving another person’s property when you know it was obtained in a criminal matter

·         Robbery: intent to commit theft in the presence of another by use of force, intimidation, or sudden snatching

·         Possess Controlled Substance: having a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance

·         Disorderly Conduct: acting in a violent manner toward another person that leaves them in reasonable fear of their safety or their property; using fighting words; or using obscene and vulgar or profane language around a child under 14 years old

·         Arson: malicious burning of someone’s house

The Walton County Sheriff’s office also has an informational website with suspect surveillance videos. If you recognize any of the people in the videos the Sheriff’s Office asks that you send them information through their website.

If you or someone you know has either been harmed or charged with any of the crimes above, contact our office to see how we can assist you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Can My Online Profile Be Used Against Me?

YES! It is important to monitor your online profile and activity in this modern age. More and more courts are allowing online activity to be discussed in court.  “There are strictly defined legal limits on what information can be lifted and what is in the private domain and can be obtained only through legal procedures like subpoenas, depositions and discovery.” NYT 5/13/11.

Many people do not set their privacy settings high which may make their online activity in the public domain and easily used against them in court.  Even if your settings are limited, it is important to re-evaluate your settings from time to time.  Maybe one of your 300 facebook friends is also facebook friends with your future ex-spouse and they post a picture of you doing something you would rather keep private and not discussed in open court.  In fact, “sixty-six percent of the attorneys surveyed by the AAML [American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers] called Facebook the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence, followed by MySpace (15 percent) and Twitter (5 percent).” AJC 2/11/10

If you are going through a divorce or child custody issue and have questions about your online profile and security, contact our office at for professional legal advice.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Do I Wear to Court?

Business or business casual attire is appropriate courtroom attire. Additionally, “in July 2009, the Georgia Judicial Council adopted a policy clarifying that religious headcoverings can be worn in Georgia courthouses.” AJC 5/5/11. However, recently a judge did not allow a man to wear his religious headcovering repeatedly to a Henry County State Court. If you are in doubt about your clothing, consult the Court you will be attending to determine if they have any specific restrictions. 

Perhaps more important than your clothing is the way you handle yourself while in Court.  We all need to treat the Court with seriousness and respect. Judges and others in the courtroom appreciate when courtroom decorum is respected. Be sure to turn your phone off, limit your conversations while in the courtroom, and when it is your turn in front of the judge speak clearly and concisely.

If you have questions about courtroom decorum, call The Law Office of Christine M Bechtold, LLC at 770.466.2700 to schedule a consultation.