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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 12237
Experience:  Licensed Attorney
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I was pulled over because a cop ran my tag and he said my drivers

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I was pulled over because a cop ran my tag and he said my driver's license was expired and I had no clue since I never look at it. It was expired for 7 months. The violation code was 40-5-20. I got my new drivers license a few days after the ticket was issued. I tried to pay the ticket online but it said I have to appear in court. Is this something I should worry about? Should I get a lawyer?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer:

Hey Brandon

Brandon M. :

Hi, thank you for your question.

Customer:

You're welcome

Customer:

Are you really a Lawyer or some random guy in India? ;)

Brandon M. :

I can't tell you whether you should be worried, but I can tell you the penalties.

Brandon M. :

No, I'm definitely an attorney.

Customer:

I didn't mean to be offensive, you just never know these days on the internet

Brandon M. :

And I'm not in India... I'm on my couch, which is what is nice about working with this website--you get to speak with a professional at this hour of the evening for a fair price, and I get to help you for a fair price without leaving my TV room.

Customer:

sounds like a solid situation

Customer:

the cop was pretty cool about it, he said I could pay the ticket online but I looked tonight and realized it said I had to appear. Was a little thrown off by that

Brandon M. :

No offense taken :-) It's a fair question, but I'll attest to the website in general--I've been with the website since 2008 and I've actually had the opportunity to visit their headquarters in San Francisco and meet with some of the pros from their other categories (vets, MDs, etc.) Everyone is really impressive.

Brandon M. :

Do you have any criminal convictions on your record?

Customer:

i dont know what that means

Customer:

do i have a felony?

Brandon M. :

What I mean is, have you ever been previously convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony? Found guilty or pleaded no contest?

Customer:

ive never been convicted of a felony.. i was convicted of a misdemeanor shoplifting like 13 years ago but pleaded no contest

Customer:

i was 20 or so

Customer:

aren't traffic tickets considered misdemeanors?

Brandon M. :

It depends on the violation, but not necessarily, no.

Customer:

ive had a few speeding tickets here and there but haven't really had anything in a long time.. I had an expired tag a couple years back

Brandon M. :

Ok, but no traffic violations that would have potentially resulted in jail time, correct?

Customer:

ive only been to jail over the shoplifting thing, that was 13 years ago

Customer:

i spent one day in jail

Brandon M. :

Ok, well, here's the situation:

Brandon M. :

I should start by saying that because the nuances of every case are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without first consulting in person with counsel. That said, a first time conviction for driving on an expired license in Georgia, a violation of GA Code 40-5-20, is a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum $500 fine and 2 days in jail. It carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 12 months in jail. Additionally, there is a six month driver's license suspension, two defensive driving classes required, and license reinstatement fees must also be subsequently paid if the driver wants their license back. So it is pretty expensive and burdensome. As long as the defendant has a minimal or non-existent criminal background, actual jail time can typically be avoided altogether. A minor theft crime from more than a decade ago is normally considered insignificant.

Brandon M. :

So I can't tell you whether you should worry about it, but it is what it is.

Customer:

wait, a minimum of 2 days in jail?

Brandon M. :

Whether you should get an attorney is up to you, but I would personally recommend that you at least consult with an attorney. This isn't the type of conviction that is likely to derail your entire life, but it is expensive and a pain in the rear.

Brandon M. :

Yes, but the 2 days can typically be served in ways other than actual incarceration.

Customer:

like community service and such?

Brandon M. :

For example, wearing the orange suits and picking up trash on the side of the road.

Brandon M. :

Yes.

Customer:

so, you're saying with my background it's unlikely they will actually incarcerate me?

Customer:

i know you don't know my full background

Brandon M. :

The reason that the possible jail time varies so much -- as few as 2 days and up to 12 months -- is that the court is really interested only in coming down hard on repeat or serious offenders. About 1/3 of adults have at least a misdemeanor on their records, and most of them are productive citizens. The court distinguishes between responsible adults who make a mistake where nobody gets hurt, from the offender who is in and out of the system their entire lives.

Brandon M. :

A misdemeanor shoplifting conviction that resulted on only one day jail time over a decade ago is normally completely irrelevant because it doesn't in any way attest to what kind of person the defendant is.

Customer:

would getting an attorney increase the likelihood of community service and stuff?

Customer:

i really do not want a record over something i literally forgot

Customer:

i took care of it almost immediately

Brandon M. :

Well, an attorney can ensure that your rights are protected, so if the state has an evidence shortcoming or if there is a procedural defect, the attorney can ensure that the process is followed. But an attorney will also advocate for you and can use his or her experience and familiarity with the court to improve your chances of getting the charge reduced. So, for example, an attorney might be able to negotiate the charge down to a less serious offense in exchange for a guilty plea.

Customer:

im not sure i could even get someone in such short notice

Brandon M. :

When is your hearing?

Customer:

July 30th

Brandon M. :

That's plenty of time. Any criminal defense attorney would be equipped to help.

Brandon M. :

You can crack open your phone book and call the guys with the biggest ad--they can probably see you before the end of the week. You can also contact your county's bar association for a referral.

Customer:

bar association?

Brandon M. :

Yes. The bar is the organization that regulates licensed attorneys. In which county did this occur?

Customer:

i just dont get if it's a minimum of 2 days jail time, why didn't the cop just arrest me?

Customer:

it was johns creek city (fulton county)

Brandon M. :

The cop had the power to arrest you, but there's discretion. You may have violated the law, but what would arresting you accomplish? It actually sounds like the cop used good judgment. He/she could have spent the afternoon bringing you in, processing you, etc. over an expired license, or he/she could have been out keeping the streets safe from serious crimes. Which would you prefer?

Customer:

That is true

Customer:

I read this from another site with someone asking a similar question

Customer:

Expert: Sam replied1792 days and 12 hours ago.


 


on the 40-5-20 it states violators shall be punished in accordance with 4-5-121 and it is below - on the 40-6-48 this is not a jailable offense but carries 4 points.

Brandon M. :

If you're looking for a referral, because of your proximity to Atlanta, the Atlanta bar association would probably be the best bet. Their website is here: http://www.atlantabar.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=46

Customer:

thank you

Brandon M. :

4-5-121 (a) specifies, in part, that "Except when a license has been revoked under Code Section 40-5-58 as a habitual violator, any person who drives a motor vehicle on any public highway of this state at a time when his privilege to do so is suspended, disqualified, or revoked shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first conviction thereof and, upon a first conviction thereof or plea of nolo contendere within five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two days nor more than 12 months, and there may be imposed in addition thereto a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00."

Customer:

was my license considered disqualified?

Customer:

because itw asn't revoked or suspended

Brandon M. :

I'm not sure that I understand the question. I do apologize. Could you please rephrase?

Customer:

is suspended, disqualified, or revoked shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first conviction thereof and

Customer:

what is my license considered?

Customer:

is it better or worse to plead no lo?

Brandon M. :

An expired license is considered disqualified.

Customer:

and in your experience, what do you think i would be charged, considering what you know of my background

Customer:

when i was 18 i had a speeding ticket that i forgot to pay for but turned myself in that day because they issued a bench warrant for my arrest and when i was 21 i was arrested for shoplifting misdemeanor

Customer:

that is it

Brandon M. :

Nolo contendre is exactly the same as guilty for legal purposes.

Brandon M. :

Those things would normally be completely insignificant and remote in time.

Customer:

im 33 now

Customer:

so what do you think in your experience would be the likely outcome?

Brandon M. :

If you got out of prison 18 months ago for manslaughter, or if this is your 5th misdemeanor in the last 6 years, then your record would be likely to affect your outcome.

Brandon M. :

But non-violent misdemeanors that are more than 10 years old typically have no effect whatsoever on a driving on an expired license change.

Customer:

is an expired tag considered a misdemeanor? thats the last ticket i got a few years ago

Customer:

it was expired for a month

Customer:

i was able to pay it online

Brandon M. :

An expired tag is not a misdemeanor in Georiga.

Customer:

ok so i haven't had one in a long time then

Brandon M. :

It is considered a traffic citation, not a criminal offense.

Brandon M. :

Did you have any other question?

Customer:

i just wanted to know what you thought the likely outcome would be

Customer:

im going to speak to someone regardless

Brandon M. :

Sure. If you can hold on for just a moment.

Customer:

i just know you're experienced

Customer:

take your time

Brandon M. :

Sorry for that delay.

Customer:

It's okay, I'm sure you have other things going on

Brandon M. :

Typically, when a defendant has no other serious conviction on their record, and where the last misdemeanor conviction was more than 10 years prior, the courts will impose the absolute minimum penalty.

Customer:

i reall dont want to go to jail

Brandon M. :

As I mentioned, a conviction for violating 40-5-20 carries a minimum penalty of 2 days in jail and a fine of $500 (plus some other administrative costs), but actual jail time is not normally imposed.

Customer:

im sure nobody does.. but i dont drink, i dont smoke, i dont do anything.. i

Customer:

ive never had any alcohol or drug charges

Customer:

to be quite honest, the shoplifting thing really scared the crap out of me

Brandon M. :

Naturally, if you WANT to do your time in jail, that can probably be arranged, but the jails are crowded and the courts actually prefer to save the jail space for more serious offenders.

Brandon M. :

If it makes you feel better, shoplifting is generally regarded by the courts as a more serious offense than driving with an expired license. A shoplifting conviction is considered a character offense--it speaks to your character. Driving with an expired license is not a character offense. So consider your shoplifting prior and just know that driving on an expired license is less serious than that.

Brandon M. :

Does that make sense?

Customer:

i just dont want the shoplifting thing to effect this

Customer:

i dont remember how long ago it was honestly, it was definitely 8 years +

Customer:

i think more than 10

Brandon M. :

Even 8 years is still pretty remote in time. And I emphasize again that a first time offense of driving on an expired license just isn't that serious in the eyes of the law. Seriously.. there are bigger fish to fry. Neither the courts nor law enforcement wants to waste their energy and resources making an example out of someone for something like this. It's not like anyone was hurt.

Brandon M. :

They have limited resources. Your case just isn't that serious.

Customer:

thank you.. that makes me feel better

Customer:

thank you for your time.. i know you need to get going

Brandon M. :

It's just scary because you don't have the criminal mindset and this isn't your way of life or doing things. Learn your lesson and don't do it again, but the punishment will fit the crime, and the crime isn't that serious.

Brandon M. :

Ok?

Customer:

I will thank you

Customer:

i'll actually look at my license

Customer:

i dont ever buy alcohol or anything so i just never look at the experation

Brandon M. :

I understand.

Customer:

i just confirmed the shoplifting was 13-14 years ago

Brandon M. :

Ok, so that obviously is remote in time.

Customer:

thank you, XXXXX XXXXX chat with an attorney and see what i can do, thank you for your time again

Customer:

how do i end and pay for this?

Brandon M. :

Well, if you would just like to leave a positive rating, that's all I would need.

Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 12237
Experience: Licensed Attorney
Brandon M. and 5 other Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

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If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again. To answer your last question, if you would just like to leave a positive rating, that is all I would request. There is no additional charge for leaving a positive rating. Thanks.

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