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Kim Stephens Discusses Common Misconceptions about Arrests

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            Athens defense attorney Kim Stephens discusses common myths about arrests and criminal defense. Kim Stephens is a nationally ranked defense attorney, and he has practiced criminal law in Athens for twenty four years.

Misconceptions About Arrests and Criminal Defense

  1. MYTH: If the police don’t read me my Miranda rights, my case will automatically be thrown out or dismissed.

TRUTH:  The police are not required to advise a person of their Miranda rights, i.e. the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present, until a person has been detained or arrested.  If the police fail to tell you your Miranda rights following a custodial arrest, any statements you make in response to police questioning or interrogation might be excluded from use at trial, but the case is still not likely to be thrown out or dismissed, although a good defense attorney will certainly try to leverage this omission to help resolve your case.

 

  1. MYTH: If my friend has marijuana/cocaine/prescription pain pills/ecstasy/or any illegal drugs, while he or she is in my car or house, I can’t be arrested or charged by the police with possession since it isn’t mine.

TRUTH:  In Georgia, you can and are likely to be charged with possession of illegal drugs if drugs are found in your car, house, or in close proximity to you, even if the drugs belong to your friend or acquaintance.  I represented a young female UGA student—an honor student with close to a 4.0 GPA—in the recent past who was a guest at a parent/student fraternity social at the Athens Classic Center.  Her date, a good friend of hers, was approached by the police and arrested for cocaine possession after an officer serving as a security guard saw him snorting a white powder.  Our client was also arrested based solely on the fact that she was standing beside her date at the time.  Even worse, the local newspaper put the young lady’s picture on the front page with a headline announcing she had been arrested for possession of cocaine.  After investigating the case, I convinced the prosecutors in the Athens Clarke County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss all charges against the young lady, but the emotional trauma and expense of simply being charged was extraordinarily difficult on her and her family. Be aware that if you are spending time with people who are involved in illegal activity, you may be arrested just for your proximity to those people, even if you aren’t directly involved in the crime.

 

  1. MYTH: I (or my son or daughter) will never be arrested because I am/ they are a good person and would never violate the law.

FACT:  Almost all of my clients are good people.  Some of my clients are falsely accused.  Some have done something that violates a law, but the police and prosecutors have over-charged or inflated the charges to be bigger than they should be.  Some people have simply made bad decisions or found themselves in unfortunate circumstances.  At Stephens & Brown, we begin each case believing our clients are good people and treat them with respect throughout our representation.  We seek to achieve the very best possible result in each case.

 

Remember, if you are charged with a crime or asked to meet with school administrators about alleged crimes, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can provide you with a powerful defense and protect your future. Kim Stephens defends people every day against false or inflated accusations, winning in court, and preventing incidents from impacting his clients’ lives. He is a nationally ranked defense attorney and has successfully litigated hundreds of cases.

 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR ARE FACING A STUDENT JUDICIARY HEARING, CALL KIM STEPHENS TODAY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE AND A POWERFUL DEFENSE. 706.548.3933

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Sex Crimes

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Consent and Sex Crimes

            Stephens & Brown, Athens Georgia’s premier DUI and criminal defense law firm, welcomes University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Athens Technical College, and Piedmont College students back to Athens. Continuing in our series of blogs intended to help new and returning students in Athens understand and navigate the legal system, today’s blog will focus on consent and laws concerning sexual conduct, and sex crimes. If you have questions about academic concerns/ student conduct hearings, DUI laws or other local and state laws regarding alcohol consumption, you can access Student Legal Services Series 1: DUI here; Series 2: Alcohol Laws and Local Ordinances, here; and Series 3: Academic Concerns, here.

Remember, if you are charged with a crime or asked to meet with school administrators about alleged crimes, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can provide you with a powerful defense and protect your future. Kim Stephens defends students every day against false or inflated accusations, winning in court, and preventing incidents from impacting students’ education and lives beyond college. He is a nationally ranked defense attorney and has successfully litigated hundreds of cases.

Consent:

While in college and beyond, it is important to understand the meaning of consent as it relates to sexual activity in order to avoid hurting someone, committing sexual assault, and facing charges that could permanently impact your reputation, freedom, and well-being. The University of Georgia defines consent (via their EOO website) as “Words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary willingness to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.  Consent cannot be gained by force, intimidation or coercion, by ignoring or acting in spite of objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the respondent knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation…Past consent does not imply present or future consent.  Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent. Minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent under Georgia law.”

In other words, before engaging in sexual activity you need to be certain that:

  1. The other person has clearly indicated that they want to have sex or engage in sexual acts with you. Remember you should NEVER attempt to coerce or convince an individual to do something they are unsure about or don’t want to do.
  2. You have consent for each encounter. Just because a person has consented to sex previously does NOT mean that you have the right to engage in sexual activity without their ongoing and clear consent.
  3. The other person is not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. An intoxicated person, or a person who is incapacitated because of medication, CANNOT legally consent to sex or sexual activity.
  4. That the person is over the age of sixteen. Remember that nobody under the age of 16 can consent to sexual activity. Even if you are only one or two years older than the individual and have a relationship with them, any sexual activity (including kissing) could still be considered a crime.

 

 

Sex Crimes:

You should be aware of the following laws and regulations regarding sexual activity in Georgia:

  1. If you touch someone in a sexual manner without their consent—for example, slapping buttocks or touching intimate areas of their body—you can be charged with sex crime such as  sexual battery or even aggravated sexual battery. See O.C.G.A. 16-6-22.1 and 16-6-22.2.
  2. If you have sex with an individual under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with rape, aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery, and other serious criminal charges, even if you were also intoxicated. See O.C.G.A. 16-6-1, 16-6-22.1 and 16-6-22.2.
  3. If you have any kind of sexual contact with someone under the age of consent (16), you may be charged with child molestation, aggravated child molestation, statuary rape, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, and/or enticing a child for indecent purposes. See O.C.G.A. 16-6-3, 16-6-4, 16-6-22.1, 16-6-22.2 and 16-6-5.
  4. Students, particularly male students, are being expelled by UGA and other colleges and universities based upon accusations of sexual misconduct, where both students involved were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time, WITHOUT A HEARING to determine the truth of the accusation.

Remember if you are accused of any crime involving sexual misconduct, it is vitally important that you hire an attorney to help you defend the accusations and protect your future.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR ARE FACING A STUDENT JUDICIARY HEARING, CALL KIM STEPHENS TODAY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE AND A POWERFUL DEFENSE. 706.548.3933

 

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Student Legal Services Series 1: DUI

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Stephens & Brown, Athens Georgia’s premier DUI and criminal defense law firm, welcomes University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Athens Technical College, and Piedmont College students back to Athens. The fall is an exciting time in Athens, with students returning to the city, and football season just around the corner. Former Bulldog All-American and criminal defense attorney Kim Stephens encourages incoming students to study, work hard, have fun, and be careful to avoid being arrested and forever branded as a criminal.

For the next several weeks our blog will focus on educating students about local laws and ordinances and helping them avoid legal problems and academic disputes.

Remember, if you are charged with a crime or asked to meet with school administrators about alleged crimes, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can provide you with a powerful defense and protect your future.  Kim Stephens defends students every day against false or inflated accusations, winning in court, and preventing incidents from impacting students’ education and lives beyond college.

 

Student Legal Services Series 1:

DUI

  1. If you are under the age of twenty-one and drive any vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages (0.02 BAC or 1 alcoholic drink for most people), you may be charged with DUI. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid a DUI charge, your driver’s license would likely be suspended if you are charged with MIP while driving.  Don’t put yourself or others at risk.  Walk (preferably with a friend so that you won’t be a good candidate for being robbed or mugged), call a sober friend, have a designated driver, take a cab, or let Uber help you.
  2. If you are over the age of twenty-one and drive a vehicle (including bicycles, scooters, Segways, golf carts, horses, or any moving vehicle) with a blood alcohol level of .08, you will be charged with DUI in Athens. While television, radio and billboard advertisements call a DUI a $10,000.00 mistake, I know of a DUI conviction costing a person more than $200,000.00 because he lost his job, lost his company car, couldn’t find other work for over a year, almost lost his home, and suffered the more typical DUI I’ve also seen commercial drivers lose their licenses for a year or, for a second DUI permanently taking away their ability to work.  These cases demonstrate the severe impact a DUI can have whether you are a college student or a working adult.
  3. If you drive a vehicle improperly (speeding, failure to maintain lane, etc.) after consuming alcohol or using drugs, you may be charged with DUI less safe even if you refuse the breath or blood test. Often police officers will request that you take “a few tests” to determine if you are impaired.  You are not required to take these field sobriety tests.  Understand that police officers use the test to gather evidence against you, not to help you.  So, in almost every circumstance, you should refuse to do field sobriety tests at the scene of your stop.

2016 Update: Recent Georgia and United States Supreme Court cases have called into question the legality of blood tests to determine blood alcohol level in DUI cases without a valid search warrant.

  1. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident after consuming alcohol or drugs, you may be charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanor reckless driving to felony vehicular homicide. A conviction for vehicular homicide almost always results in many years of prison time though Stephens & Brown has successfully kept clients out of jail in these serious cases including one client recently who caused the death of two elderly people after smoking marijuana.  Don’t take a chance of killing someone, ruining your life, and devastating the lives of family members for you and the person you might injure or kill.

 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR ARE FACING A STUDENT JUDICIARY HEARING, CALL KIM STEPHENS TODAY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE AND A POWERFUL DEFENSE. 706.548.3933

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Kind Words and References

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Mike & Kim,

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about the problems my family is facing. Ya’ll have been more than helpful.

Mike, you have been a great friend since elementary school. As I was sitting in my office angry and frustrated,I looked down and saw your picture in an ad on the phone book. I smiled, grabbed my phone and dialed the number. I was shocked when the girl put me through to you. That is unheard of in business today and a testament to your firm. I really appreciate your friendship and hope I can repay you some day.

Kim, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to call me and answer my questions and offering to help. That too says a lot not only about your firm but your character. You were more helpful than you realize.
From now on, if anyone ask me to recommend a law firm, you guys will be the first to come to mind. I just pray I never need your services. But if I do, you can bet I will call you guys first.

Thank you again,
J. I.

– See more at: http://www.athens-lawfirm.com/blog/kind-words-and-references/#sthash.vG4nKBZ0.dpuf

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Supreme Court Holds that Fair Sentencing Act Applies to Post-Act Sentencing for Pre-Act Conduct

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On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dorsey v. United States (No. 11-5683), holding that the Fair Sentencing Act’s new LOWER mandatory minimums apply to sentences for crack cocaine imposed after the Act for pre-Act crimes.

While this U.S. Supreme Court decision is exciting and good news for some defendants, attorney Kim Stephens successfully argued in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia that his clients should be sentenced under the lower guidelines set forth in the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 using many of the same arguments raised in Dorsey almost 2 years ago. As a result, Stephens’ clients were sentenced to much less time, i.e. several years less time, than they would have been sentenced to if the Fair Sentencing Act had not applied to pre-Act conduct.

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Judge sentences our firm’s client to probation while sentencing co-defendants to lengthy prison terms

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Following a client’s guilty plea to burglary and other serious felony offenses, attorney Kim Stephens persuaded a judge in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia to grant his client First Offender treatment which kept the client from having a felony conviction on his record among other benefits.  Most importantly, though, Stephens persuaded the judge to sentence his client to probation with no time to be served in prison.  The two co-defendants in the case, our client’s father and brother (both of whom were represented by other attorneys), were sentenced to 8 years and 6 years in prison respectively to be followed by lengthy terms of probation.

To see the full story, please go to http://onlineathens.com/stories/040111/new_808531746.shtml

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Kim Stephens and Page Pate win “NOT GUILTY” verdict for a Georgia Doctor charged with unlawfully distributing controlled substances

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In January, 2012, after nearly six years of waiting, Dr. Paul Raber of Lavonia was acquitted by a Hart County jury of thirty-three felony counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances. Following the trial in a courtroom filled with dozens of Dr. Raber’s family, friends, and loyal patients, the jury returned with its “not guilty” verdicts after less than thirty minutes of deliberation.

Dr. Raber was represented by attorneys Kim Stephens of Athens and Page Pate of Atlanta, who had began working with him when charges were first filed back in 2007. The case had already been taken to the Supreme Court of Georgia on a pre-trial appeal before it came back to Hart County for trial. At the Supreme Court, Page argued that the statute Dr. Raber had been charged under, OCGA § 16-13-41(h) was unconstitutionally vague because it did not clearly make pre-signing prescriptions a crime, much less a felony.

The Supreme Court, by a slim margin of 4-3, ruled that the statute wasn’t constitutionally defective and that the word “issue” might not require actually giving a prescription to a patient or end user. At trial, Page argued just the opposite, that Dr. Raber had not “issued” any prescriptions at all, and the jury seems to have agreed.

Vaguely worded statutes such as the section of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act at issue in this case pose a grave danger to the public. Because many statutes like this one are worded so poorly, they can be twisted to mean virtually anything a motivated prosecutor wants them to mean. In the case of the GCSA, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health professionals may be at risk of prosecution for actions that are not even clearly criminal at the time they are done. Thankfully, the jury in this case was able to see that the prosecution was not applying the law as it had been intended: to prevent doctors from being “drug dealers with medical licenses,” as Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hunstein described it in her dissenting opinion in Dr. Raber’s appeal.

Our congratulations to Dr. Raber and his family, who are surely relieved that this long ordeal is behind them.

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