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Friday Facts: What Are Drug Schedules and How Do They Influence Drug Possession Laws in Georgia?

Ritalin. Source: Wikipedia.

When you hear or read a story in the news about drugs or drug possession, many times you hear about schedules. You hear, “This drug is a schedule I and this drug is a schedule III” or something similar  But what does that mean? The Georgia State Board of Pharmacy schedules drugs in to five classes based on their potential for abuse, pharmacological effect and other factors. The findings are then codified in Title 16 of the Georgia Code.

So what are these schedules* and what classes of drugs are contained in them?

Schedule I drugs or substances have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and, there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Heroin is an example of a schedule I drug.

Schedule II drugs or substances have a high potential for abuse; The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and  abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Opium, Codeine, and Hydrocodone are schedule II drugs.

Schedule III drugs or other substances have a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Anabolic steroids are an example of a Schedule III drug.

Schedule IV drugs or substances have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III; The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III. Long-acting barbiturates (like those used for weight loss) are an example of a Schedule IV drug.

Schedule V drugs or other substance have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV. Cough suppressants containing small amounts of codeine are examples of Schedule V drugs.

And, how is possession of certain drugs on these schedules, many of which are considered controlled substances, handled under Georgia law?

Flowering cannabis plant being grown indoors. Source: Wikipedia

Well, GA Code § 16-13-30 lays out the penalties for the purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, or sale of controlled substances, including marijuana, which we discussed in our latest Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit. According to 16-13-30:

(except as authorized by the article) it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his control any controlled substance.

It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, sell, or possess with intent to distribute any controlled substance.

Any person who violates subsection (a) of the code section with respect to a controlled substance in Schedule I or a narcotic drug in Schedule II will be guilty of a felony and, if convicted can be punished by imprisonment for not less than two years or more than 15 years. After conviction of a second or subsequent offense, the y will face imprisonment for not less than five years or more than 30 years.  Any person who violates subsection (b) of this Code section with respect to a controlled substance in Schedule I or Schedule II will be guilty of a felony and, if convicted will face 5-30 years. If convicted a second or subsequent time he will face 10- 40 years or life imprisonment.

Any person who violates subsection (a) of this Code section with respect to a controlled substance in Schedule III, IV, or V shall be guilty of a felony and, will face 1-5 years. For subsequent, convictions he could face 1-10 years.

It is illegal for any person to possess, have under his control, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with intent to distribute a counterfeit substance. Any person found in violation will be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction can be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year up to years.

Additionally, it is important to note that it is also unlawful for any person to possess, have under his control, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Any person found in violation will be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction will face 1-10 years.

Possession of controlled substances comes with serious penalties, especially if you repeat the offense. If you or someone you know are facing drug possession charges please contact us at (404) 287-2393 so we can help.

* A primary source of information for these drug schedules is Wikipedia.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

 

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: How Will a Marijuana Possession Charge Affect My Son’s Future?

Question: My son was charged with marijuana possession. How badly will this affect his future?

Answer: First, it is important to note that the police or law enforcement agency does not have to actually find a person with drugs in their hands for them to be charged with possession. If a person is considered to be “in control” of the marijuana then they could be charged with possession. Examples are if you are stopped by the police and they find marijuana in your glove compartment, in the center console, or in the gas cap. If a reasonable person would believe you had knowledge that the marijuana was in one of those places then you could be charged with possession.

Next, it depends on how much he had and whether or not this was his first offense. If the amount of marijuana was less than one ounce it is a misdemeanor. The penalty could be a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. If it was more than one ounce it would be considered a felony, which has a much more serious penalty. The penalty for felony possession is up to a $1,000 fine and the possibility of 1-10 years in prison.

The affect of this charge also depends on the amount he possessed. If your son had less than one ounce and it was his first offense, he may be eligible for a conditional discharge. GA Code Section 16-13-2 says that, “Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions, the court shall discharge the person and dims the proceedings against him. Discharge and dismissal under this Code section shall be without court adjudication of guilt and shall not be deemed a conviction for the purposes of this Code section or for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon conviction of a crime.”

In other words, after successful completion of probation and whatever other stipulations that the court imposes the offender’s record will be wiped clean and they will be given a fresh start.

Finally, if you or anyone you know is facing a drug possession charge, whether the first offense or a subsequent offense, feel free to contact us at (404) 287-2393 so that we may help navigate the process.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo: Fox17Online.com)

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Tips for Teens: Car Accidents and Other Road Problems

Alex was excited to finally get his license. He was looking forward to going to the movies and to visit friends without needing someone to take him.

A couple weeks later, Alex was headed to his friend Matt’s house. Two blocks from Matt’s, Alex waited at a stop sign when he felt a sudden jolt. Someone had rear-ended his car. Alex started panicking — and his first thought was “What do I do now?”

Car Crashes

Driving is probably the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 30,000 deaths and over 2 million injuries from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. every year.

Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it’s still smart to know what to do just in case you end up in a collision. Crashes can be very scary, but here are some tips if one happens to you:

Take some deep breaths to get calm. After a crash, a person may feel a wide range of emotions — shock, guilt, fear, nervousness, or anger — all of which are normal. But take a few deep breaths or count to 10 to calm down. The calmer you are, the better prepared you will be to handle the situation. This is the time to take stock of the accident and try to make a judgment about whether it was a serious one.

Keep yourself and others safe. If you can’t get out of your car — or it’s not safe to try — keep your seatbelt fastened, turn on your hazard lights, then call 911 if possible and wait for help to arrive. If the collision seems to be minor, turn off your car and grab your emergency kit. If it’s safe to get out and move around your car, set up orange cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares around the crash site.

If there are no injuries and your vehicle is driveable, make a reasonable effort to move the vehicle to a safe spot that is not blocking traffic (like the shoulder of a highway or a parking lot). In some states it’s illegal to move your car from the scene of a crash, though. Ask your driver’s ed instructor what the law is in your state.

Check for Injuries and Report the Incident

Check on everyone involved in the crash to see if they have any injuries. This includes making sure you don’t have any serious injuries. Be extremely cautious — not all injuries can be seen. If you or anyone involved isn’t feeling 100% (like if you start trying to get photos or write down details on the crash and start feeling dizzy or out of it), call 911 or any other number your state uses to request emergency assistance on roadways. Be ready to give the dispatcher the following information:

  • Who? The dispatcher will ask for your name and phone numbers in case the authorities need to get more information from you later.
  • What? Tell the dispatcher as much as you can about the emergency — for instance, whether there is a fire, traffic hazard, medical emergency, etc.
  • Where? Let the dispatcher know exactly where the emergency is taking place. Give the city, road name, road number, mile markings, direction of travel, traffic signs, and anything else you can think of to help them know how to find you.

Make sure you stay on the line until the dispatcher says it’s OK to hang up.

Sometimes, you can get the police to come to the crash scene even if there are no injuries, especially if you tell them you need someone to mediate — in other words, to help you figure out what happened and who’s at fault. But in certain areas, as long as both vehicles can be safely driven away, police officers won’t come to the scene unless someone is hurt. If the police do not come to the scene, make sure you file a vehicle incident report at a police station.

Take Down Driver Information

Ask to see the driver’s license of the other drivers involved in the crash so that you can take down their license numbers. Also get their name, address, phone number, insurance company, insurance policy number, and license plate number. If the other driver doesn’t own the vehicle involved, be sure to get the owner’s info as well.

Take Notes on the Crash

If the crash is minor and you feel that you can describe it, try to put the details in writing. Detailed notes and photos of the scene may help the court and insurance agencies decide who is responsible. Get a good description of the vehicles involved — year, make, model, and color. Take photos of the scene — including the vehicles and any damage, the roads, any traffic signs, and the direction each vehicle was coming from.

Try to draw a diagram of the exact crash site and mark where each car was, what direction the car was coming from, and what lane it was in. Write down the date, time, and weather conditions. If there were any witnesses, try to get their names and contact info so that they can help clear up matters if one of the other drivers isn’t completely honest about what really happened.

You can only do these things if you think the collision was minor (for instance, if the airbag did not inflate). If the crash is major, you want to involve the police.

Even if you think a crash was your fault, it might not be. That’s why insurance companies say that you should not admit fault or accept blame at the scene.

The Aftermath

While the crash itself might be upsetting, dealing with the aftermath can be too. In the hours or days following a collision, some people may still be shaken up. They may be beating themselves up over what happened — especially if they feel the crash was avoidable. Sometimes, people close to those who were involved (like families and best friends) can experience some emotional problems too. These feelings are all normal. Once some time passes, the car is repaired, and the insurance companies are dealt with, most car crashes become mere afterthoughts.

In some cases, though, these feelings can get stronger or last for longer periods of time, keeping a person from living a normal life.Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after a devastating event that injured or threatened to injure someone. Signs of PTSD may show up immediately following the crash, or weeks or even months after.

Not everyone who experiences stress after a trauma has PTSD. But here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • avoiding emotions or any reminders of the incident
  • constant feelings of anxiousness, crankiness, or anger
  • avoiding medical tests or procedures
  • constantly reliving the incident in one’s mind
  • nightmares or trouble sleeping

If you notice any of these symptoms after you’ve been in a car crash, try talking through the experience with friends or relatives you trust. Discuss what happened, and what you thought, felt, and did during the collision and in the days after. Try to get back into your everyday activities, even if they make you uneasy. If these things don’t help, ask your parent or guardian to help you check in with your doctor.

Other Road Problems

Plenty of people have minor incidents — like running over the mailbox while backing out of the driveway. Somewhere between hitting mailboxes and hitting other cars are common problems like blowouts and breakdowns.

Flat Tires

Getting a flat tire while you’re driving can be jarring — literally. To prevent this, make sure your tires aren’t too old and check your tire pressure at least once a month.

If you do find yourself in a blowout situation, here are a few suggestions from AAA to get you through it safely:

  • Don’t panic and stay off the brake. Sudden braking could cause a skid. Look ahead and hold the steering wheel with a firm grip. Slow down gradually by taking your foot off the accelerator. Try to steer the vehicle to the side of the road safely. Let the vehicle slow down before applying the brakes with gentle pressure. Bring the vehicle to rest on the side of the roadway, shoulder, or parking lot.
  • Set up your breakdown site. Once safely off the road and out of the line of traffic, turn on your emergency flashers to alert other drivers of your situation. Set up your warning signs (cones, triangles, or flares) behind your vehicle so others realize your car is disabled. If you know how to change your tire and can do it safely without getting too close to traffic, do it, or call your auto club for help.
  • Get help if you need it. Automobile clubs will come to help 24/7, 365 days a year — many people become members to get this kind of emergency assistance. Ask your parents if your family belongs to an automobile club and, if you do, get a membership card. Use a cell phone or highway emergency phone to call for help. While you’re waiting, raise the hood of your car and hang a white T-shirt or rag out the window or off the radio antenna so that police officers will know you need help. For safety reasons, don’t try to flag down other drivers. Only walk along a multi-lane highway if you can see a business or someone who can help you nearby.
  • Don’t walk in or get near traffic.
  • After it’s done. Take your vehicle to the shop so a mechanic can look it over for any damage.
Breakdowns

If your vehicle breaks down, safely bring it to a stop and out of the line of traffic — as far off the roadway as possible. Set up your breakdown site out of traffic. A major difference between flat tires and breakdowns is that it’s less likely that you will be able to fix a car that has broken down. That’s why it’s wise to signal that you need help by properly displaying the white cloth and calling for roadside assistance or the police.

If you manage to get your car safely out of traffic, wait inside with the doors locked. If someone stops and offers to help you, just open the window slightly and say that you’ve already called for help. Again, only walk along a multi-lane highway if you can see help nearby, and stay as far away from traffic as possible.

Reviewed by: Kurt E. Gray, MS
Date reviewed: July 2012

Source: TeensHealth from Nemours

Photo 1:  Health Connection

Photo 2:  HarveyMcKay.com

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights (including related to the content of this article) reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: What Are My Rights After a Car Accident?

Question: I was in a car accident recently and I do not know what to do. Can you please advise me what I should do to make sure that I am protected?

Answer: After being involved in an accident, there are several things that you should do. First, after the initial accident, if safe and possible, you have to move your vehicles out of the travel lanes. At least, that is the law in Georgia. The police are trained to inspect the cars and the damages to determine who is at fault even if the cars are not in the exact position they were in when the accident occurred so don’t be concerned that moving your vehicle won’t make that possible.

Next, you should take pictures of your car yourself. These days, most people have smart phones or at least a phone with a camera so use it to document the condition of your vehicle after a car wreck. Documentation is very important.

Then, after the police arrive, and make a report, make sure to get other driver’s information. If you do not get it then, you will have to wait until the police report is complete to get the information needed to contact the insurance company.

After that, even if you were not at fault, you need to call your own insurance company and let them know about the accident to avoid any possible problems later.  Also, you can and should give your insurance company a statement after the accident. But if you do not feel comfortable giving them a statement without talking to legal counsel, you can contact an attorney who can advise you what to say when you give the statement to your insurance company. Remember, you are not required to given a statement to the other drivers insurance company, and, it is probably best that you don’t.

Finally, below are a couple other tips to remember:

  • If you are injured, make sure to go the emergency room or your doctor and get documentation of your injuries.
  • If your car was towed from the scene, make sure you get any valuables or personal information out of the car.
  • Neither a lawyer nor doctor should be calling you directly after you accident if you did not contact them first, and it is actually illegal for either to do so.

If you have been in an accident and you need help or you are unsure of your rights, do not hesitate to contact us at (404) 287-2393 for a full legal consultation.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wordfreak/

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Child Deprivation in Georgia: Prevention and Consequences

In Georgia, a deprived child is “one who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian.” (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)

‘Child’ means any individual who is: (A) Under the age of 17 years;(B) Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or (C) Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a ‘deprived child’ or a ‘status offender’ as defined by this Code section. A deprivation case can be initiated by several different parties including DFACS, Police, schools, relatives, or medical providers.

In some instances deprivations are committed by teenage parents or even adult parents who are scared or do not know how to deal with an infant or child. In order to save some of these children, Georgia is one of the many states that have a safe haven law to give children a chance.

Georgia’s safe haven law can be found in Georgia Code Section 19-10A-4. It says, “A mother shall not be prosecuted for the crimes of cruelty to a child, Code Section 16-5-70; contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child, Code Section 16-12-1; or abandonment of a dependent child, Code Section 19-10-1, because of the act of leaving her newborn child in the physical custody of an employee, agent, or member of the staff of a medical facility who is on duty, whether they’re in a paid or volunteer position, provided that the newborn child is no more than one week old and the mother shows proof of her identity, if available, to the person with whom the newborn is left and provides her name and address.”  In other words, in Georgia it is not a crime, and you cannot be prosecuted for leaving a newborn at the hospital.

The safe haven law is just one example of how the state can combat depravations and it is only where infants are concerned. Other ways that the state tries to help families who may enter the legal system because of depravation are Case Plans and Homestead Services.

A Case Plan is “a written agreement that defines those actions that will allow a family to achieve a level of functioning, ensures protection and safety of children and eliminates, or significantly decreases, the risk of maltreatment. It includes developing measurable and specific outcomes directly related to the maltreatment and to risk reduction. Outcomes/goals are broken down into specific steps with time frames for accomplishment and review.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

Homestead Services are the Department of Family and Children’s Services’ (DFACS) “most intensive family preservation service. It is a contracted service. It is a family focused, crisis-oriented, short-term (180 days), intensive in-home counseling program for families with children at risk of foster care placement. Homestead Services may also be provided to families who are ready for reunification.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

Ultimately, if the family preservation plans do not work parental rights can be terminated. What happens when parental rights are terminated? “An order terminating parental rights ends all rights and obligations of the parent with respect to the child and/or the child to the parent, including the right of inheritance. The parent will have no right to object or not object to the future adoption of that child into another home. The termination of one parent’s rights with respect to the child has no effect on the rights of another legal parent to the care and control of that child.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

So avoiding having a deprivation case initiated against you is important because the implications could be dire. Once that has happened, though, deprivation proceedings can be tricky and hard to navigate, they also move fast, much faster than cases in the adult criminal or civil system. If your child has been taken away, and/or you are facing a deprivation case we can help. Call us today at (404) 287-2393 for a consultation.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo: safehavenlaws.uslegal.com)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: What is Juvenile Deprivation?

Question: A relative has filed a complaint with the Department of Family and Children’s Services against me for “juvenile deprivation” of my 16-year-old who skips school all the time, is doing drugs and sleeps her days away. What is juvenile deprivation and could my daughter be taken from me?

Answer In Georgia, a deprived child is “One who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian.” (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)

‘Child’ means any individual who is: (A) Under the age of 17 years; (B) Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or (C) Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a ‘deprived child’ or a ‘status offender’ as defined by this Code section.

A deprivation case can be initiated by several different parties including the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS), Police, schools, relatives, or medical providers. If the child is removed, there must be a hearing within in 72 hours. After a deprivation proceeding is initiated, it can be a short process if no deprivation is found. But, it can be a long process if deprivation is found. The process can lead to either reunification or termination of parental rights, depending on findings.

A juvenile court judge will determine if a parent has deprived their child at an adjudication hearing. If so, a case plan will be implemented by the Court upon the parent and the child before reunification is possible. If a parent’s parental rights are terminated, the parent no longer has legal or custody rights of the child. The child will be taken out the parent’s home permanently with no hope of reunification.

Deprivation proceedings can be tricky and hard to navigate; they also move fast, much faster than cases in the adult criminal or civil system. If your child has been taken away, and/or you are facing a deprivation case we can help. Please call The Boddie Law Firm, LLC at 404-287-2393 for a consultation.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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What are the implications of truancy for your children?

Photo. The Telegraph.co.uk

Truancy in Georgia and around the country has long been a problem. By truancy, we are not talking about a couple of days playing “hookie” or participating in senior skip day. Truancy is habitual violation of compulsory school attendance laws. Georgia, along with the rest of the United States, has a compulsory attendance law. In Georgia it is required that children attend public, private, or homeschooling between their 6th and 16th birthday unless they have completed all the requirements for a high school diploma. (GA Code § 20-2-690.1)

Beyond the fact that there is a correlation between school attendance and the grades a student receives, there are other consequences for both the parents and the students. For students, they can end up in juvenile court and face confinement in a juvenile facility. In addition to being involved in the juvenile court system for truancy, the truancy may lead to other disciplinary and criminal issues.  Parents may face criminal charges and monetary fines.

Although the state is trying to help combat truancy, in general, the fight against truancy is handled on the local level. According to the State Attendance Protocol Committee, “In order to address truancy and attendance, Georgia state law (HB 1190) now requires that communities and schools work together to address truancy through the recommendations of their local Student Attendance Protocol Committee, which have two goals set forth in law:

Ensure coordination and cooperation among officials, agencies, and programs involved in compulsory attendance issues, to reduce the number of unexcused absences from school and Increase the percentage of students who take tests required under state law.“

Attendance is important because if a child is not in school, they will miss an opportunity to learn.  As parents, and members of the community at large, we want our children to have the best opportunities available.  We want our children to achieve and excel.

If you are facing charges as a juvenile or parent for truancy-related issues, feel free to contact us for a consultation at (404) 287-2393.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo Link: http://bit.ly/XqkBMI)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: Do I have to make my children go to school in Georgia?

Photo: PE.com

Question: Do I have to make my children go to school in Georgia?

Answer: Yes, you must make sure your child gets some form of schooling until they are 16 years old in Georgia.

In Georgia, it is required that children attend public, private, or homeschooling between their 6th and 16th birthday unless they have completed all the requirements for a high school diploma. (GA Code § 20-2-690.1)

Schools may coordinate with other agencies and officers to secure a warrant for the arrest of a parent of a student age five to sixteen to the Magistrate Court for failure to comply with the compulsory attendance provisions of Georgia law and refer a parent to the department of Family and Children Services for suspicion or indications of abuse/neglect.

Violation of the compulsory attendance law is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by fine in the range of $25-$100 and imprisonment up to 30 days and/or community service or any combination of the three. Additionally, each group of 5 days of unexcused absences will be considered a separate offense.

Different Counties have different ways of dealing with truancy when older students are concerned.  In Cobb County, students are referred to the Cobb County Juvenile Court by the Cobb County School District and are cited with a violation of O.C.G.A 20-2-612. Some cases are reviewed by the judge, others are sent to the Court’s mediation program.  For their truancy, students face the possibility of probation, community service, fines, drug screens and prison tours.

Additionally, in some cases the student is given a curfew. Students who are placed on probation and then miss school may be required to serve time in a juvenile facility. Students who are suspected of gang involvement or substance abuse are referred to specialized programs within the Court for assessment.

In Fulton County, the school social worker will file an unruly/truancy or educational neglect petition with the Fulton County Juvenile Court and if the case meets the necessary requirements, it will be assigned to a probation officer in the Truancy Intervention Project’s Probation Unit.  If the case does not meet TIP’s requirements, it will be assigned to a probation officer outside the TIP Unit and a public defender or other legal counsel will be appointed to represent the child.  The matter will then be scheduled on the juvenile court’s calendar.

If assigned to the TIP Unit, the case will be assigned to a TIP probation officer and scheduled on the juvenile court’s calendar.  A TIP volunteer will be assigned to serve as a legal advocate or guardian ad litem for the student based on whether the case is a truancy or educational neglect case. The case is then heard by a presiding or associate juvenile court judge.

If  the is child found truant and adjudicated unruly/ungovernable, the child may be placed on supervision with the court and subject to dispositions for unruly children pursuant to O.C.G.A. 15-11-67.  If the child fails to comply with the court’s order, a violation of supervision charge shall be filed by the juvenile court probation officer.

If your child is charged with truancy or you’re faced with charges related to your child’s truancy, please call The Boddie Law Firm for a complete consultation on your legal matter.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo: PE.com–http://bit.ly/TP6pYx)

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Theft of Children’s Identities a Growing Problem

Courtesy Huffington Post.

In this week’s Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit, we discussed the illegality of putting utilities in your children’s names when you can’t get them placed in our own due to past credit issues. But, it seems that identity fraud committed by family members, especially against children is a growing problem. In fact, according to ID Analytics, an estimated 500,000 children have had their identities stolen by a parent.

Below is an excerpt from an article on the issue from HuffingtonPost.com, which published a series called Burdened Beginnings which focuses on child identity theft:

A Family Secret

Parents use their children’s Social Security numbers for a variety of reasons. Some use them to get jobs because they have felony convictions on their records. Others use them to apply for credit cards and utilities because their own credit is tarnished.

Last April, Maryland resident Jimmy Louis Craighead, 40, was convicted of stealing the identities of his three children — ages 6, 4 and 2. He told a judge he and his wife were not able to get credit in their own names, so they used their children’s names to get money for food, fuel and other necessities, according to the Carroll County Times.

“They have maxed out their ability to get credit, so they borrow their child’s thinking, ‘Oh, it’s okay. I’ll pay all the bills so by the time they turn 18, they’ll have great credit,’” Linda Foley, co-founder of ID Theft Info Source and an expert on child identity theft, said at a conference in July. “Well, they haven’t unlearned the bad behaviors that got them in debt in the first place, so at 18, the child ends up in debt.”

That debt can take years to remove from a credit report. When Chip St. Clair was 15, his parents stole his identity to take out nearly $50,000 in student loans, utilities, apartment leases and car loans over the course of three years, he said. He didn’t find out until 1998, when he was 22 and his father was charged with escaping from an Indiana state prison in the 1970s.

He also learned that his father, who went by the name David St. Clair, was actually Michael Dean Grant, a convicted child killer. Grant had used Chip’s Social Security number to create a new identity.

After his father’s arrest in 1998, Chip’s mother wrote a letter for her son to give to his creditors. Written in cursive on stationery with a brown stuffed bear, the letter began “To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter in hopes it will straighten out my son’s credit and financial problems.”

It continued: “Chip is trying to regroup and make something of himself and all this from the past is holding him back. … He should not be held accountable for the sins of his father. … Please try to have compassion for Chip’s situation and help him clear his good name.”

Now 36 and a resident of Rochester, Mich., St. Clair said he has spent the last decade trying to remove fraudulent charges from his credit report while paying high interest rates on loans because of his poor credit. He has still not been able to erase student loans that his parents took out in his name, he said. In October, he tried to open a utility account, but was told he had an outstanding balance of $500 from an address where his parents lived 20 years ago.

“Your credit is your lifeline to society,” St. Clair told The Huffington Post. “When it’s stolen from you, it creates so many problems in your life. It still haunts me to this day.”

Read the rest of the story here:

As you can see, using a child’s identity to get credit you can’t get is not only theft, but can damage that child’s credit for years into their adulthood, limiting their options and opportunities early in life and perhaps causing a lifetime of problems.

If you are having financial challenges and require assistance, please refer to our latest Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit for resources here in Georgia and seek out similar resources from your own state. If you have credit issues you need to resolve to get credit in our own name, please contact a consumer counseling credit agency like American Consumer Counseling Credit for help.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

 

 

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: Can I Put My Utilities in My Kids’ Name?

Question: Is it alright to put a utility bill in my child’s name if I don’t think I can get service in my own name?

Answer: No, it is not alright. In fact, it is considered identity fraud.  O.C.G.A. 16-9-121(a)(2) says “ a person commits the offense of identity fraud when he or she willfully and fraudulently uses identifying information of an individual under 18 years old over whom he or she exercises custodial authority.”

Punishment for identity fraud can be between one (1) and ten (10) years of imprisonment and a fine up to $100,000. Additionally, in some cases, restitution has to be paid. Here, at the Boddie Law Firm, we understand that times are tough for some right now, but we would still like to help you stay within the confines of law when getting your utilities and not face additional problems for doing so fraudulently.

So, below is a list of programs for utility assistance. This information is directly from the Georgia Public Service Commission’s website.

Utility Assistance Programs

Electric, gas and telephone utilities serve millions of customers in Georgia, but there are many customers who can’t afford gas, electricity or basic phone service without the help of payment assistance programs. Many electric, gas, and telephone utility companies offer payment plans to their customers who qualify. They may allow deferred payment for those who cannot pay their whole bill or delay disconnection for customers trying to pay their bills. Many civic groups, charitable organizations, and churches in local communities provide payment assistance to low income customers. For more information, contact your gas, electric, or telephone service provider.

Telephone Programs

Lifeline

Lifeline Assistance provides up to a $13.50 credit on qualified residential customers’ bills in AT&T-Georgia’s service area (a federal credit of $10 and an additional credit of $3.50 from AT&T-Georgia). Customers in other telephone companies’ service areas receive the $10 federal credit.

Link Up Georgia

Link-Up Georgia reduces the cost of hook-up charges for eligible customers. AT&T-Georgia waives 100% of the telephone service hook-up charge for its customers. Customers of all other local telephone companies in Georgia receive a waiver of one-half of the connection charge or $30, whichever is less.

You may be eligible if you can prove that you are currently receiving benefits under onev of the following programs:

  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Senior citizen low-income discount plan offered by the local gas or power company
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Call your local phone company to see if you qualify.

Electric and Gas Programs

Weatherization

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (www.gefa.org) distributes funds for weatherization assistance through Community Action Agencies for the repair or renovation of homes of low-income residents to make them more energy efficient. For more information call 404.656.3826 or contact your local Community Action Agency.

Low Income Energy Assistance

Most electric and gas utility companies provide an efficient means for their customers to help needy individuals by making it possible to include charitable donations with utility bill payments. Georgia Power Company and Atlanta Gas Light Company match funding contributed by their customers.

The Heating Energy Assistance Team (“HEAT”) program is administered by the Georgia Department of Human Resources statewide through Community Action Agencies. For more information call 404.656.6696 or your local Community Action Agency. Project SHARE is also a statewide program and is administered by The Salvation Army. For more information call 1.800.25SHARE or your power company’s customer service number.

Senior Citizen Discounts

Senior citizen discount rates provide savings for those who qualify. Customers who are at least 65 years old with a total household income of not more than $14,355 annually, are eligible to receive a $14.00 discount on their Georgia Power or Savannah Electric power bill. Natural gas customers in Atlanta Gas Light Company’s delivery area may receive up to a $14.00 discount. Call your gas or electric service provider for more information.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)/PSC Matching Grant for Seniors

As a resident of Georgia, you may qualify for a financial assistance program designed to help you pay your energy bills. Low-income consumers who meet the following criteria are eligible to receive assistance from the federally-funded LIHEAP.

  • Has an annual income at or below 150% of the poverty level for Georgia,
  • is responsible for paying the cost of his or her home’s primary heating source, and
  • is a U.S. citizen or legally admitted alien.

For more information or to apply for assistance, contact the numbers listed below.

Phone Numbers for LIHEAP Assistance

Name

Number

Department of Human Resources Fulton County and DeKalb County (inside city of Atlanta) 800.869.1150
404.320.0166
DeKalb County (outside city of Atlanta), Gwinnett County and Rockdale County 404.929.2454
Augusta area 706.722.0493
Savannah-Chatham area 912.238.2960
Macon-Bibb County 478.738.3240

Other Financial Assistance Programs

  • The United Way, 2.1.1, or 404.614.1000
  • The Salvation Army, 404.873.3101, or 800.257.4273 – toll free

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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