Over the last couple of years, courthouses throughout Georgia and the rest of the country were nearly completely closed for a time or doing significantly less in-person business than usual.
Safety concerns in jails and prisons contributed to early releases in some cases and to prosecutors and judges being more willing to let those arrested be released on bond rather than awaiting trial behind bars.
Georgia leaders are cracking down on crime
One thing that didn’t seem to slow down was crime activity -– at least in Atlanta. In fact, some leaders are blaming the partial closure of the courts during this time for an increase in crime. Gov. Brian Kemp created a Crime Suppression Unit earlier this year to work with local police departments to deal with this increase.
The unit, however, seems to be cracking down on more than violent crimes. According to the head of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, since April, it’s made 285 DUI arrests, over 200 reckless driving arrests and 188 arrests of people on warrants. Eleven of those were charged with murder. The unit has been made permanent.
While arresting more people is one way to crack down on crime, there’s still a backlog of pending criminal cases. The head of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia recently told state lawmakers that even repeat offenders charged with a violent crime were allowed to await trial outside of prison. One state representative has proposed approving $75 million to be spent on law enforcement and mental health.
Defendants may have an easier time getting plea deals
While the state court system is still working to deal with a serious backlog of cases, it’s only natural that prosecutors are more likely to agree to plea deals – including those that don’t involve incarceration -– to avoid a jury trial on an already overcrowded court schedule.
That’s good news for people who are seeking to get their charges and/or penalties reduced. To determine what the best course of action is in your case, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.