Recently, news outlets have been abuzz about the sentencing of Apollo Nida, known for his recent appearance on the television show, "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Reports are saying that Nida, whose wife Phaedra Parks is an attorney, got "an enormous break" by talking to investigators and giving up information about his criminal activities. TMZ. (2014 July 8). "Housewives' Star Apollo Nida: 8 Years In Prison Sentence Shortened For SNITCHING" Retrieved from http://www.tmz.com/2014/07/08/apollo-nida-sentencing-money-fraud-charges-guilty-plea-prison. The important takeaway from these news reports is not that defendants should quickly tell investigators or police everything they know in hopes of a more appealing outcome. The better takeaway, which is unstated in many articles, is that Nida was represented by an attorney who worked to help him receive a more lenient sentence, and criminal defendants would be wise to have counsel of their own.
Text messaging is fast eclipsing phone calls as the preferred method for efficient communication for both personal and business matters. Our smartphones are never far from our hands, buzzing at all times to signal someone has something important to tell us right away. While driving our cars, however, just the slightest glance at our screens makes us subject to being pulled over and cited by the police. And nowhere in Georgia is that more likely to happen than in Gwinnett County.
I recently went to DeKalb Recorders Court for a client with a serious traffic violation. The only reason we were even in Recorders Court instead of State Court (where I can almost always get you a much better deal) was because our Motion for a Jury Trial was DENIED. Now you may be saying, "But, Laura, don't you have a constitutional right to trial by a jury of your peers?" You would be absolutely correct, but it's fairly simple to waive (give up) that right. We never allow our clients to waive their trial rights unless we have worked out a good plea deal for them. Unfortunately, this client had appeared in court before retaining us and unknowingly waived all his rights by signing a simple form.