Our Success Stories
A business client contacted our office after receiving a demand letter from an attorney representing a medical billing company who was seeking payment for an alleged breach of contract. Client was told the billing company could provide a practice management software that would include electronic medical records in real time, simple and automated medical billing for insurance companies and Medicare, electronic data exchange, ability to access software from mobile devices, and reduce overall staff time. From the onset, there were issues that resulted in backlogged billing for as long as eight months, and caused extra work for staff and doctors. Our attorney responded to the demand letter, pointing out the factual inaccuracies and providing documentation to refute the billing company’s demands. In the interest of resolving the matter without further litigation, and while denying liability, a $1,000.00 settlement was offered and accepted. Savings to Client, $4,408.85.
Client contacted our office for assistance after her puppy died following unsuccessful treatment for Parvovirus. Client’s son purchased a male Yorkshire terrier puppy for his mom as a gift; at the time of the purchase, the company warranted that the puppy was healthy and up to date on his immunizations. Three days after the purchase, the puppy was hospitalized due to vomiting, diarrhea and other issues. Unfortunately, the puppy did not respond to the intensive care treatment provided by the medical team. Our attorney wrote a letter to the breeder demanding a refund of the purchase price of the puppy and reimbursement for the veterinary bills that were incurred for his treatment. In response to our letter, we received a check for the full amount demanded. Recovery for Client, $2,336.39.
Client contacted our office for assistance with an issue she was having with a nationally recognized cruise liner. Client and her family were guests on one of the company’s ships when they, as well as many other passengers, were infected with a virus. They first noticed the symptoms after eating at the buffet onboard the ship. After falling ill, client and her family were placed in quarantine, where they remained for the remainder of the cruise. Client was offered a discount on a future cruise, but wanted to be compensated for the cruise and airfare. Our attorney wrote a letter to the corporate office demanding a refund of the cost of the cruise and compensation for client’s travel expenses. In response to our letter, the company remitted the requested compensation. Recovery for Client, $2,236.82.
The Importance of
Georgia’s First Offender Act
You may have heard the old adage that you only get, “one bite of the apple.” That principle may apply to a discussion of Georgia’s First Time Offenders Act. (O.C.G.A. §42-8-60, et. seq.). When it comes to having second chances or a new lease in life, it is critical for everyone to understand and familiarize themselves with this law. We often receive phone calls regarding expungements and restricting criminal history reports. The discussion regarding the First Offender Act often comes up in our consultations with clients.
Georgia’s First Time Offenders Act is a law that allows some first time offenders charged with certain crimes to enter a plea of “guilty” or “nolo contendere” (no contest), but avoid a conviction. To reiterate, a first offender sentence is not a conviction, rather it is considered a, “deferred adjudication.” Accordingly, when the individual has completed the terms of their sentence ,the court discharges the case without a conviction. Once the discharge is entered, the criminal records, maintained by the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC), are sealed from the individual’s official criminal history report. Ultimately, the individual will not have a conviction; however, if he or she violates the terms of the sentence or probation, the judge has the discretion to revoke First Offender status and then the person will face a criminal conviction. In that situation, the court may also sentence the individual to the maximum allowable penalty for the offense. Under Georgia law, GCIC is required to change the first offender sentence to a conviction if, prior to successful discharge, the individual is convicted of another offense, or it is determined that the individual has received prior First Offender Act treatment. Courts may also revoke a first offender sentence and change it to an adjudication of guilt.
In order to be eligible and qualify for first offender status, an individual cannot have a prior felony conviction in any State, nor ever have been sentenced as a first offender. The First Offender Act is not available for certain type of crimes, which includes DUI (driving under the influence); serious crime committed against a law enforcement officer; serious violent felony; serious sexual offense; child pornography; and electronic sexual exploitation of a minor. To be considered for first offender status, the defendant or his or her counsel must ask the judge for treatment under the First Offender Act before they are sentenced. The judge then has the discretion to approve or deny the request. A denial of a request for first offender treatment cannot be appealed.
Please call our office if you have questions about Georgia’s First Offender Act. Sometimes, a first offender charge will still show up on a GCIC criminal history record, despite receiving the judge’s Order of Discharge. Often, prospective employers conducting criminal background checks obtain records from private background check companies and may report a person’s discharged first offender case. Certain complications can arise related to those issues, which may necessitate the intervention of an attorney.
Update From The Gold Dome
The 40-day Georgia legislative session is drawing to a close on March 29, 2018. On Crossover Day, February 28, 2018, several bills “crossed over,” from one chamber to another for State legislators to consider whether the proposed legislation will pass this legislative session. Here are a few bills that many Georgians are following closely:
SB 407 provides criminal justice reforms. Judges will be able to consider the criminal defendant’s financial resources when setting bail for misdemeanor offenses and allow opportunities to convert fines and fees into community service.
HB 605 extends the time for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits against abusers. The current law gives victims until the age of 23 to bring such a lawsuit, but under the proposed changes, victims will be able to sue for damages until age 38.
HB 673 aims to reduce distracted driving and would enact a hands-free driving law. The number of points added to driver’s license would also increase, except in cases when the use of hand held device is used for reporting a traffic accident.
HB 764 allows post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain patients to register with the state registry to use medical marijuana. In 2015, Georgia made it legal for sufferers of cancer, in addition to other illnesses, to use cannabis oil with physician approval.
HB 834 would enable domestic violence victims to end a lease without facing early termination penalties. This would help those victims that are trying to leave their abusers and escape a dangerous environment.
HB 999 will try to keep guns out of hands with those with mental illness. Currently the GBI purges records of those unwillingly committed for mental treatment after five years.