LaGrange Police Department Citizens Academy Learn Felony Court Procedures
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who investigates a crime and gathers evidence to identify and use against the presumed perpetrator. The case continues with the District Attorney’s (DA) Office, which weighs the evidence to determine if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If so, a case file is made and scheduled for a non-jury criminal calendar.
Violent cases will go before a grand jury, comprised of 16 Troup County citizens, to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to uphold the charges.
Once a case is set to appear in court, an Assistant DA will began negotiations with the private defense attorney or public defender in an attempt to make a plea bargain. The assistant district attorneys work with the victims to insure they are satisfied with the action taken on a defendant. Some defendants will choose to make a blind plea, where the judge will hear from both sides and he/she will choose the sentence. If a defendant chooses he can take his case to trial and let a jury decide if they are guilty of the charges.
The District Attorney’s office handles felony Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Welfare Fraud, Victim’s Assistance program, Sex Offender Registry, drug asset forfeiture cases and many other programs. Drug asset forfeitures are normally an amount over $10,000 that has been seized during a drug arrest. A portion of this money helps fund the agencies involved with the most up to date software and equipment.
At this time there are 56,000 people in the Georgia prison system, another 26,000 are out on parole, there are 170,000 with felony convictions who are on probation. Due to a lack of funding there is not enough room in the prisons. The board of pardons and parole let many of the prisoners out early to ensure that the violent offenders stay incarcerated.
Skandalakis explained that part of their job is to realize that sometimes good people make stupid mistakes. We try to work with them to give them a second chance.
Citizens had the opportunity to ask District Attorney Pete Skandalakis about felony court procedures during the citizens academy Tuesday night. case once an arrest has been made. A case begins with an investigator or detective,