Frequently Asked Questions

Caution The responses are Not Legal Advice. You are advised to consult with an attorney if you need legal advice.

What is the District Attorney's jurisdiction? [TOP]
The South Georgia District Attorney's Office prosecutes felony crimes throughout Baker, Calhoun, Decatur, Grady and Mitchell County. The District Attorney's Office also prosecutes misdemeanor crimes in Baker and Calhoun County and juvenile court in Mitchell and Baker County. We serve a population of approximately 90,000 people.

If I get a subpoena do I have to go to court? [TOP]
Yes, you must go to court. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. Be sure to bring your subpoena with you to court.

Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime happen. [TOP]
Witnesses are not limited to eye witnesses. You may not have seen the crime happen but you may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or you may know something that contradicts another witness's testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it. There is probably a common-sense reason.

As a witness, do I have to talk in front of the defendant in court? [TOP]
Yes. The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say about him/her. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and will ask you questions after the prosecutor does.

Is the district attorney my attorney or do I need to get my own attorney? [TOP]
The district attorney represents the People of the State of Georgia in criminal court. The district attorney does not have authority to prosecute civil cases on behalf of individual citizens.

If I miss work to testify, will the district attorney pay for my loss in wages? [TOP]
No. Witnesses must go to court to testify about matters that they have knowledge of. It is a civic duty imposed upon all citizens in order to insure a just and fair judicial system.

Where is the court? [TOP]
Criminal Trial Courts are located in downtown Camilla, Bainbridge, Cairo, Newton, and Morgan. Criminal hearings take place at the jail courtroom. If you are not clear about where court takes place please call us for direction.

Who decides what charges to file, and how do they make that decision? [TOP]
A assistant district attorney reviews cases brought to the District Attorney's Office by local law enforcement agencies. The attorney reviews the reports in light of current law to decide the appropriate filing decisions.

What is plea bargaining? And do I as a victim have anything to say about it? [TOP]
There are not enough prosecutors, judges, or courtrooms to try before a jury, the hundreds of cases filed each year in our circuit.. For those defendants taken to trial, or for those who plead guilty before a trial, there are not enough jail cells in the state to hold them. These practical demands plus the defendant's right to a speedy trial, the seriousness of the cases, the strengths or weaknesses of cases, the victim's wishes, public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence are all interests that are considered by the prosecutor when deciding how to proceed. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests. Most cases are resolved in a relatively short time by the defendant's plea - many times a plea to the charged offense.

I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the defendant and the defendant's next court date? [TOP]
The DA's Office can provide you with the name of the defendant and the next court date if we have filed charges against the defendant. To obtain this information, please contact our victim services unit.

What is an arraignment? [TOP]
The arraignment is a hearing in court in which the defendant is formally charged with an offense, given a copy of the indictment, and informed of his/her constitutional rights. The defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty at this hearing.

Can you provide me with legal advice? [TOP]
No. The District Attorney's Office is prevented by law from answering legal questions or offering legal advice.

How do I report a crime? [TOP]
All crime reports should be directed to the law enforcement agency in the area where the crime occurred. The District Attorney's Office does not take crime reports. If you're trying to report an emergency situation, call 911 on your telephone to be connected to the emergency services you require.

How do I get a copy of a police report? [TOP]
Contact the law enforcement agency that created the report to obtain a copy.

Can I gain access to criminal records online? [TOP]
There is no mechanism in place for public access to criminal records online through our office unless it is directly related to a case.

Where do I find a list of all District Attorney employees and their email addresses? [TOP]
For security reasons, none is provided. If you would like to contact an employee we will forward your correspondence to that employee. You may also call 229-246-1823 to be connected to that employee or his/her voicemail.

How do I find what employment opportunities exist in your office? [TOP]
Typically all employment opportunities are listed at the Prosecuting Attorneys Council website at http://www.pacga.org

I'm a victim of identity theft. How can I restore my credit? [TOP]
The law offers powerful solutions for victims of identity theft. For steps you can take to prevent identity theft or clear your credit report of negative entries resulting from this crime, see Identity Theft

How can I have my criminal record expunged? [TOP]
Because there are different procedures depending on what the crime was and how the sentencing was handled, you need to go to the sheriffs office in the county you were convicted and request, the correct forms and procedures for expungement. Another approach is to request clemency from the Governor of Georgia. With this approach your record is not expunged, but you're given clemency. For more information see Expungments PDF .

How do I verify if a business is operating legitimately or if it has been the subject of complaints? [TOP]
The Better Business Bureau provides information about businesses and consumer complaints.

Where do I go to make a complaint about a problem with a privately retained attorney? [TOP]
The Georgia State Bar Association takes complaints against attorneys, investigates those complaints, and prosecutes/disciplines attorneys. The State Bar investigates and recommends prosecution of unauthorized practitioners of law, including non-attorneys posing as attorneys and attorneys who have been disbarred.

I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop charges. Can I do that? [TOP]
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to "press charges" against the abuser, or to later "drop the charges." All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Georgia. ONLY the prosecutor can issue or dismiss charges. Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the prosecutor, the victim's opinion is important and the prosecutor will take those wishes into account when making his or her decisions regarding the case. A variety of factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether to honor a complainant's request not to proceed with a prosecution. These include the nature and extent of the defendant's prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger to the community (including the current victim).

I was the victim of a violent crime. What services are available to me? [TOP]
Our Victim Assistance Program offers a variety services to victims of crime.

I want to file a complaint about a police officer (or sheriff). Can the District Attorney help me? [TOP]
No. You'll need to report the matter to the officer's employing agency.

I have a complaint against the DA's office. How do I contact you and will you respond? [TOP]
We hold our reputation in the community to a high standard, and are mindful to be respectful of everyone. Should you have any complaint we encourage you to contact our office immediately.

Where can I find information about obtaining a restraining order? [TOP]
Our office is happy to explain what a restraining order is, the various types of restraining orders, how to obtain a restraining order and much more.

What if I have a question that is not answered in you FAQ's? [TOP]
Call anytime you have a question. Our receptionists will try to assist you. However, the South Georgia District Attorney's Office is not a free legal clinic or a clearinghouse of legal information. We cannot give legal advice on private legal issues.