Legal Question in Criminal Law in Georgia

I was arrested in a parking lot of a business for simple assault and reckless conduct. There were 4 or 5 potential witnesses there that never gave a statement to police. The police did not take any statements except from me and the person I had an argument with.

I cannot afford an attorney. Is it ethical (or legal) to ask the other witnesses to give a statement? I am able to get in touch with them and their statement would exonerate me before even having to go to trial because the solicitor will not go forward with a case that she cannot win or that will embarrass her.

Asked on 10/22/13, 10:26 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Gardner Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP

Solicitors may decide to dismiss a case where they know witnesses will tell a story that does not lead to guilt. On the other hand, they will not just take your word for it, and written statements may be enough to convince, but they people would have to be willing to come to court and actually testify to make their statements admissible. Also, solicitors may or may not listen to a person who does not have an attorney, and may think that you case would be easier to win because you do not know the rules of evidence which would be applicable in a trial. If you cannot afford an attorney, see if you can obtain the services of a public defender. If you can do neither, try and have a few of the witnesses available with you when you make your first court appearance, and let the solicitor know that they are there and willing to speak. One last caveat, these witnesses may say something that tends to incriminate you, and not knowing the elements of the crimes you are charged with makes what they say a double edged sword.

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Answered on 10/22/13, 11:07 am

Glen Ashman Ashman Law Office

Some people try very hard to break into jail, and representing yourself in a case like this is a great way to get convicted. Since a criminal conviction can leave you unemployable for life at a decent job, you CANNOT afford not to hire counsel (if you are indigent, get a public defender). Bear in mind that the witness statement you solicit could also be used AGAINST you, and that statements are NOT admissable in court. The witnesses must come to court, and since you do not know the rules of testimony and evidence, you probably will not get their statements in.

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Answered on 10/22/13, 11:48 am

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