Frequently Asked Questions

What does the District Attorney's Office do?
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
What is a subpoena?
Can I speak to an Assistant District Attorney before my court appearance?
I think a crime has been committed. How do I bring charges?
Who does the District Attorney represent?
I want to drop charges. How do I?
What do these legal terms mean?
Where can I get more help?

What does the District Attorney's Office do?

The Office of the District Attorney in the Coweta Judicial Circuit prosecutes all felony criminal activity occurring in the five county Coweta Judicial Circuit. In addition, the office also prosecutes misdemeanors in Heard County and Meriwether County, as they do not have a separate state court.



What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a period of up to one year. A felony is a more serious crime that is punishable by a period of imprisonment longer than a year.



What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is an order directing you to be present at the time and place stated. You may receive your subpoena by mail or in person. Your subpoena may indicate that you are "on call" and your presence may not be required. Call the District Attorney's Office at the number listed on your subpoena to be placed "on call". You must leave both day and nighttime phone numbers where you can be reached during trial week. If you are placed "on call," do not come to the courthouse unless someone from the D.A.'s Office or a law enforcement agency calls you.



Can I speak to an Assistant District Attorney before my court appearance?

Yes, but you will need to contact the office of the Assistant District Attorney to schedule an appointment. If you are a defendant and have an attorney, the District Attorney's Office cannot communicate with you directly outside the presence of your attorney. Please make arrangements with your attorney to speak with the District Attorney's Office.



I think a crime has been committed. How do I bring charges?

You must first contact a law enforcement agency such as your local police department or sheriff's office to report the crime. An investigator should be able to direct you on how to proceed.



Who does the District Attorney represent?

The District Attorney represents the people and the laws of the State of Georgia.



I want to drop charges. How do I?

You may contact the Assistant District Attorney handling your case to discuss your concerns. While your feelings will be considered, the District Attorney's Office may decide to prosecute any case in the best interest of the State of Georgia.



What do these legal terms mean?

WARRANT - A written order from a judge that a person be arrested. If you are a victim or a witness, the warrant is based on a written statement about the crime in which you were involved.

BAIL - An amount paid or pledged by the defendant to make sure he or she will appear in court.

PRELIMINARY HEARING - A hearing to determine if there is reason to believe that a crime has been committed and the defendant committed it. If so, the case will be "bound over" to the grand jury. Victim's appearance required only if subpoenaed or requested.*

GRAND JURY - An independent group of private citizens who listen to information about the crime in order to decide whether the case should go to trial.

INDICTMENT - If the grand jurors decide that a case should go to trial, they "return" an indictment or presentment charging the defendant with the crime or crimes he may have committed.

ARRAIGNMENT - The first scheduled appearance by the Defendant in Criminal Court. The indictment returned by the grand jury is read and the defendant is given a copy. Arrangements are made for an attorney for the defendant and a trial date may be set. Victim's appearance is not necessary.*

PLEA AGREEMENT - This is sometimes inaccurately called "plea bargaining," which is a term used to describe a method of disposing of cases without a trial. Most defendants plead guilty. Once a defendant decides to plead guilty, it is up to the District Attorney's Office and the defendant's attorney to work out an agreement to present to the judge. The defendant may agree to plead guilty to the crime(s) charged or to a lesser offense, and there may be an agreement that the District Attorney's Office will recommend a sentence to the judge. The judge may accept or reject the plea. Although a victim does not have the final say as to what sentence is given, the District Attorney's Office is interested in their viewpoint.

TRIAL - The court proceeding in which the District Attorney, or an Assistant District Attorney, presents the case for the State, attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime as charged. The defendant may present proof to dispute the State's claim. Usually the defendant chooses whether a judge or a twelve person jury will decide the case.

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT - You will be given the opportunity to provide a written impact statement to be submitted to the court. If you wish to make an oral statement at the time of sentencing, please contact the District Attorney's office prior to the hearing.

SENTENCING - After a defendant's guilty plea is accepted or he or she is found guilty after a trial, the judge decides what happens. The defendant may be sent to prison or jail, or the sentence may be "suspended" and the defendant put on probation. Probation means the defendant is left free as long as he or she does what the judge has told him to do. He or she may also be placed in other programs, such as the Diversion Center.

APPEAL - Convicted defendants have a right to appeal their convictions and sentences to higher courts. These courts examine the record made of the trial proceedings to determine if reversible error has occurred. If a higher court finds that serious errors occurred in the trial proceedings it may remand the case for a new trial or even dismiss the charges. Although most appeals are unsuccessful, the process is often very lengthy.

PAROLE - "Parole" is the release of a person from prison before the end of his sentence, under certain conditions or restrictions which must be met or the person will be returned to prison. You may request to be notified by the Board of Parole of hearing dates and Board decisions prior to an individual's release. Contact the Victim Assistance Program for further info.

OTHER RELEASE STATUS - Contact Department of Corrections to requested notification on other releases (escape, sentence expiration, work release, etc.,) Contact the Victim Assistance Program for further info.

VICTIM'S COMPENSATION - Georgia law provides compensation for victims of violent crimes, or their dependants, who have suffered out-of-pocket losses due to physical injury, loss of income, or death. Contact the Victim Assistance Program for additional information.

* important notice: even though you are not required to be present, you may come if you wish. Contact the Victim Assistance Program for times and dates.



Where can I get more help?

Since it is not possible to give you all the information you may need on this webpage, please contact the District Attorney's Office or the Victim Assistance Program for more information. Most importantly, contact the Victim Assistance Program if you move or change your telephone number. We may not be able to get in touch with you otherwise. The DA's Office and the Victim Assistance Program are concerned about you and your case.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATING COUNCIL
(Victim Compensation Information)
404-657-1956
cjcc.georgia.gov

GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
404-656-3300
law.ga.gov

GEORGIA BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLE (VICTIM SERVICES)
1-800-593-9474
pap.georgia.gov/georgia-office-victim-services

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
478-992-5261 (General Information)
404-656-4661 (Inmate Information)
www.dcor.state.ga.us

NATIONAL CENTER FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME
1-800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)
www.ncvc.org

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
staffed 24 hrs. a day by trained counselors
1-800-799-7233
www.thehotline.org

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR VICTIM ASSISTANCE
1-800-879-6682
www.try-nova.org

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY'S COUNCIL OF GEORGIA
770-282-6300
www.pacga.org

District Attorney's Office - Coweta Judicial Circuit ©