Imagine that you are walking through downtown Newnan late at night and all of a sudden someone steps out from an alley, tells you that he has a weapon, and demands your money.
You look down at your pocket when you are sucker-punched. Not feeling inclined to take the whooping, you defend yourself and get the better of the would-be robber. The only eye witness rounded the corner just as you began to get the best of the robber and called 911 stating that you were beating some guy up!
The cops respond and take a statement from the one eye witness (who showed up late), the robber (who lied and said you jumped him), and you, who said that you were defending yourself.
The officer never checked for video footage.
Your bad night turns worse when the officer decides to arrest you because the only non-involved witness said you were beating someone up. Before you know it, you get an arraignment notice in the mail and you have been charged with aggravated assault by a Coweta County Grand Jury. What can you do? This describes just one scenario where you may be immune from prosecution under Georgia law. You may very well be immune from prosecution.
There are specific laws in Georgia that set forth certain scenarios in which a person is immune from prosecution. Immune means that you cannot be prosecuted.
Think of a prosecution in this scenario as a virus that is trying to infect you. We have to stop that virus and make sure you are immune from infection.
Specific Laws Protecting the People from Prosecution
- O.C.G.A. § 16-3-21 Use of Force in Defense of Self or Others
- O.C.G.A. § 16-3-22 Immunity from Criminal Liability of Persons Rendering Assistance to law enforcement officers
- O.C.G.A. § 16-3-22.1 Persons who Provide Assistance to Law Enforcement Officers or the Division of Family and Children Services when the Health and Safety of Children are Adversely Affected and Threatened
- O.C.G.A. § 16-3-23 Use of Force in Defense of Habitation
- O.C.G.A. § 16-3-24 Use of Force in Defense of Property other than Habitation
Unfortunately, being immune from prosecution isn't just an easy thing that happens. There are still prosecutors out there who will want to prosecute you, put you in jail, and punish you when you are immune from being prosecuted!
So, it takes some legal work to get this done. Many times it takes immense courage to fight your charges and file one of these motions. The reason for that is because when you proceed on one of these motions you may be turning down an otherwise "good" plea offer.
There are several steps to proceeding under one of these immunity statutes.
- File the immunity motion.
- Schedule it for a hearing.
- Have a hearing.
- the Judge has to rule on this motion before trial.
- If you win, the case is over - you win.
- If you lose, it sucks. But, it is ok. Because you can assert the defense again at trial.
These motions provide a defendant two chances at winning. One with the judge and one with a jury. One unique thing about an immunity motion is that the defendant, us, the people, bear the burden of proof!
We hardly ever bear the burden. Usually, the burden of proof is on the government to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But, in an immunity motion, the defendant must prove that they are immune by a preponderance of the evidence (about 50.01%).
At trial, when the defense is presented, prosecutors must disprove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a very difficult task for them.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officers often see things with significant bias. Looking to confirm what has been pre-assumed. This can lead to the wrong person being arrested and charged. These mistakes can lead to serious consequences, but our justice system provides avenues for recourse and for justice.
If you have a case where you were acting in self-defense, or defense of your home or property, or in defense of someone else, then please give us a call. You can always text or call us at (470) 635-1725 or fill out a form on the side of this page and we will be in touch as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to the family.