Does the Sheriff of Paulding County work for the District Attorney?
No, definitely not. Both the Sheriff and the District Attorney are constitutional officers, that is, people who are elected and serve pursuant to provisions in the Georgia Constitution. While according to the Georgia Attorney General, the District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer of this judicial circuit, the sheriff is the principal peace officer. The District Attorney has no powers of arrest, but is charged with enforcing the laws. The Sheriff commands unincorporated county patrol operations, oversees courthouse security and runs the common jail of the county.
Does the Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney prosecute only felonies?
No, there is no state court in Paulding County and the District Attorney’s office therefore prosecutes all crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. The Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney also prosecutes all offenses in the Paulding County Juvenile Court.
How many Assistant District Attorneys are there in the Paulding County District Attorney’s office?
There are currently Fifteen Assistant District Attorneys in the office.
Assistant District Attorneys currently on staff:
1. Steve Messinger, Chief Assistant District Attorney, Emory U.
2. Tom Cole, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney, (Felonies) U of Ala Cumberland School of Law
3. Michael Viscuse, Senior Assistant District Attorney (Felonies) Nova Southeastern
4. Matthew Rollins, Senior Assistant District Attorney (Felonies) Walter F. George Law at Mercer
5. Emily Harsen, Senior Assistant District Attorney, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit AJM
6. Alexandria A. Clark, Assistant District Attorney, Juvenile Division, Atlanta's John Marshall (AJM)
7. Brett Williams, Assistant District Attorney, (Appeals, Drug Court) Cumberland School of Law
8. Brook Demeke, Assistant District Attorney (Felonies) Thomas Cooley Law School
9. Tarrea Williams, Assistant District Attorney
10. Eric Logan, Assistant District Attorney (Misdemeanors) GSU School of Law
11. Bridgett Bray, Assistant District Attorney (Felonies) GSU School of Law
12. Ashley Cox, Assistant District Attorney (Misdemeanors) AJM
13. Chandler Bridges, Assistant District Attorney (Indictments)
14. [OPEN], Assistant District Attorney
15. [OPEN], Assistant District Attorney
All Assistant District Attorneys in the District Attorney’s office in the Paulding Judicial Circuit are career prosecutors; together, they have more than one hundred fifty years experience.
What other people work in the Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office?
There are now Five Victim-Witness Advocates, Four InvChandler Bridgesestigators, and Nine administrative assistants.
What do District Attorney’s Office Investigators do?
Our investigators interview victims and witnesses, and provide reports to our Assistant District Attorneys. They also transport witnesses and victims to court hearings and trials. All of our investigators are P.O.S.T. (Peace Officers Standards and Training Council) certified peace officers, and have powers of arrest and all the powers customarily granted to law enforcement officers, which they are.
What do Victim-Witness Advocates do?
Our Victim-Witness advocates are required by law to keep victims and families of victims advised as to the progress of criminal prosecutions in our courts. They also interview witnesses and victims (as do the investigators) and make Assistant District Attorneys aware of restitution requirements and special needs of victims. All victims have a right to appear in court at the trials, pleas and sentencing hearings of criminal defendants in whose cases the victim or witness may have an interest or claim. All our Victim-Witness Advocates have special training and education in Victim-Witness services.
How long does it take for a criminal case to come to trial?
Once the case file is sent to us by the arresting agency and a proper warrant is issued, the case comes to the District Attorney assigned to one of Paulding County’s three superior court judges. Then the Administrative Assistant assigned to that courtroom begins to gather the data needed and gets the file ready for review by the Assistant District Attorney assigned to that same judge. The Assistant District Attorney then reviews the evidence and reports, and makes a decision regarding the “charging document”, that is to say, he or she decides whether it is appropriate to file an accusation (for misdemeanors and some specific felonies) or draw an indictment to be presented to the Grand Jury (for felonies). This is a matter requiring at least two months, and perhaps longer if we need to have our investigators do additional interviews and track down witnesses. Then the charging document must be filed (if an accusation) or the matter brought before the Paulding County Grand Jury, which meets normally once a month. After the charging document has been filed (accusation) or an indictment (which has been handed up to the superior court judge, and then handed down to the clerk of the court), then the case is placed on the active case roster, and the defendant is sent notice for arraignment, where he or she will be arraigned and a plea entered (guilty, sentenced on the spot, or not guilty, come back for trial when you get notice). Then the case is set on a trial calendar. Trial calendars are called by each of the judges at least once a month, and the cases that are on the active list may be tried at that time. In the ordinary course of events, each judge can try two cases, sometimes three, in a trial week. That means a maximum of nine cases would go to trial in any jury term week. The remaining cases are disposed of through pleas. Since we take in approximately 150 cases each month, the necessity for negotiating pleas is obvious.
When the English King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, only the nobility and the clergy were educated, and the majority of the common people could neither read nor write. When a person was arrested or charged with a crime, that person was brought into the king’s court (which is why we still go to “court”) and the charges were read to the accused (because the accused usually was not able to read) and the accused was then asked whether he or she would plead guilty or not guilty. That is still the law in Georgia today. A defendant may waive arraignment if he or she wishes to do so, but if arraignment is not waived and the reading of the indictment is not waived, the District Attorney is required to read aloud to the defendant in open court all of the counts of the indictment and inquire as to the defendant’s plea as to each count.
Does the Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney work for the Attorney General of Georgia?
No. The Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney is elected by the people of the Paulding Judicial Circuit (in this case, a single-county circuit; there are some circuits in Georgia with as many as eight counties) and the District Attorney works for the people of the State of Georgia. The District Attorney’s boss is each registered voter in the circuit.
Why are some cases dismissed?
There are various reasons why cases can or should never come to trial. In many instances, when the case is ready to be tried, witnesses are not able to be located or are no longer able to recall events, or are no longer willing to come to court to testify. Some cases are dismissed for legal reasons, and some for equitable reasons. Many cases are placed upon the “dead docket,” a device unique in the courts of Georgia. The cases on the “dead docket” are no longer on the active list, but may be brought back from the “dead docket” by the prosecutor or the court if desired at some future date. Cases in which an order for nolle prosequi has been entered cannot be revived after six months from the date of entry of the order, or when the statute of limitations on the offense has run, whichever is later.
How will I know a case is coming up for arraignment or trial?
Defendants will receive notice by mail from the Paulding County Clerk of Superior Court, provided the defendant has kept the Clerk advised of his or her current address. Victims will receive notice from one of our Victim-Witness advocates. Witnesses are not required for arraignment, and defendants, victims and witnesses will receive notice by mail for trials. Victims and witnesses will also very likely be contacted by the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case before trial, to go over expected testimony and to prepare for trial. Victims and witnesses will also be contacted by one of our Victim-Witness advocates well in advance of trial.
If I’m a defendant, do I need a lawyer?
Everyone who comes to court as a defendant needs a lawyer. The District Attorney’s office represents the State of Georgia, and all our Assistant District Attorneys are licensed attorneys.
If I’m going to plead guilty, do I need a lawyer?
If I receive a subpoena, do I have to come to court?
Yes. Subpoenas are issued as an order of the court, by the Clerk of the Court, with the authority of the judge, and you must appear. Failure to appear subjects the person subpoenaed who fails to come to court to a fine of $300.00. If you receive a subpoena from the District Attorney’s office, PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE to (a) let us know you have received the subpoena, and (b) give us a telephone number and let us place you “on call” so that you don’t miss work or school. When the case for which you’ve been subpoenaed comes up, we’ll call you, then you come to court.
If I receive a summons to appear and serve on the Grand Jury or trial jury, and I no longer live in Paulding County, whom should I call?
Clerk of Superior Court Treva Shelton’s office will advise you. Call 770-443-7534. The District Attorney’s office does NOT have the authority to excuse you.
How do I apply for record restriction (expungement)?
The application process is only for arrests which occurred prior to July 1st, 2013.
• On-line, go to: http://gbi.georgia.gov, then click on “Services” and then click on “Georgia Criminal History Record Restrictions”; click on PDF to download instructions and forms.
• Remember, all restriction requests must be turned in to the arresting agency, not to the District Attorney’s Office. The arresting agency will send the properly completed forms to the District Attorney for approval or rejection, after which you will receive notification by mail. The following dispositions are among those eligible for restriction:
1) Dismissals prior to Accusation or Indictment
2) Nolle Prosequi - with the following exceptions:
- Prosecutor was barred from introducing material evidence against the individual on legal grounds, including, without limitation, the granting of a motion to suppress or motion in limine - O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(i)(1)(B)
- Conduct which resulted in the arrest of the individual was part of a pattern of criminal activity prosecuted in another court of the state or foreign nation
– O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(i)(1)(C)
- The individual had diplomatic, consular, or similar immunity or inviolability from arrest of prosecution - O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(i)(1)(D)
- The charges were tried and some but not all of the charges resulted in an acquittal - O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(i)(2)
- Acquitted of all charges but later determined that acquittal was the result of jury tampering or judicial misconduct - O.C.G.A. §35-3-37(i)(3)
3) Misdemeanor conviction of a Youthful Offender (under 21 years of age) with no arrests for a 5 year period from date of conviction
4) Sentenced under and successful completion of Conditional Discharge Program O.C.G.A. 16-13-2
5) Dead Docket for more than 12 months
6) Grand Jury returned two no bills
7) Not presented to Grand Jury
9) No further action anticipated
Can I pay for traffic citations at the District Attorney’s Office?
No. Payments for traffic offenses are handled through the Probate Court.
Can I report a crime, file a complaint or take out a warrant for an individual’s arrest with the District Attorney’s Office?
No. we are the prosecuting law enforcement agency. You must begin with the local agency where the crime occurred.