Criminal Defense

Mr. Welch has been practicing law for over 40 years and has handled thousands of cases in court, including several hundred jury trials in Marietta, Atlanta, Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties in Georgia and Federal courts. He has a vast knowledge of the law and works very well with the prosecutors and judges in Marietta, Cobb County, and surrounding metro counties. He regularly has cases pending in Marietta, Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, Fulton, DeKalb, Forsyth, and Gwinnett counties and often in other jurisdictions.

His firm handles many DUI, traffic, and drug cases as well as serious felony charges, such as robbery, murder, theft, and sex charge matters. For more than 30 years, the firm has maintained its office in Marietta where it also has handled many divorces and contested child custody cases, juvenile court matters, and probate cases. Mr. Welch is personally involved in each case from beginning to end.

The Welch firm provides special, custom, individual treatment for each client and is able to arrange appointments for evenings or weekends. Clients may communicate with the firm by telephone or email to remain informed about their cases. Reasonable fees are set in the initial meeting with the client, with fees being flat fees, hourly charges, or contingency fees in certain cases. Most major credit cards are accepted, and payment plans are available in some circumstances. Although the firm's staff cannot give legal advice, the professional paralegals and secretaries are able to answer many questions that arise during the course of a case and reduce a client's anxiety of the unknown.

Mr. Welch obtained his BA degree at the University of Georgia and the JD (law) degree at Mercer University. He is licensed to practice law in Georgia and Florida and is admitted to the Georgia courts, Federal trial, and appellate courts, and United States Supreme Court. He also serves as a state licensed mediator and arbitrator.

Criminal cases begin with an arrest or a ticket. Juvenile cases begin with a detention or a ticket. These initial charges are issued by a police officer or other official in the executive branch. The charges could be made by the US Dept. of Agriculture (if for example, it alleges a food stamp violation), Dept. of Family and Children Services, probation or parole officer. The ticket charges might be modified by the prosecuting attorney when the file reaches the solicitor or district attorney. For example, a speeding violation might be upgraded by the solicitor to reckless driving; a pointing pistol charge might be upgraded to aggravated assault. This process sometimes is confusing but is a very common occurrence in Marietta as well as Cobb and surrounding courts.

It is important that an accused person discuss the case with an attorney very soon after receiving the charges. Although we all have a right to remain silent, most people find it impossible to exercise this right and just feel compelled to talk to the police, to explain our side of the story. Bad decision. Whether dealing with the fine police officers in Marietta and Cobb County or with other fine metro area officers, an accused person rarely will say anything to police that will help anyone but the police.

A probable cause (PC) hearing will be set (but not held) within 2-3 days of the arrest. The statute just states the accused must be taken before the judge within this time for the judge to schedule a PC hearing, which might be held many days later. An officer who arrests with a warrant must within 72 hours present the accused to a commitment judge to set the hearing date. OCGA §17-4-26. The PC also is known as a Commitment Hearing, in which the judge would hear evidence and either release the accused person or commit him to a higher court. In Marietta, like many other jurisdictions, this first hearing often results in the setting of a somewhat reasonable bail bond. The accused would be allowed to post this bond and be released from jail. Some bonds are restricted to a true surety bond, in which a bondsman (professional bail bond company) would guarantee the accused would be in court when ordered or the bondsman would have to pay off the bond. Most bonds are more flexible, permitting such commercial bonds, cash bonds, property bonds, or pre-trial release bonds. With traditional bonding company bonds, the accused would not be required to submit to random drug screens. In Marietta, Cobb County judges now require that bonds set in court are processed through the Pre-trial Release program, thus requiring possible random drug screens and regular reports to the pretrial office. The advantage of the pre-trial program is that the accused person gets most of his bail money back when the case is completed. With a professional bonding company, the money paid for the bond is the fee paid to the bondsman and is not refundable.

When an accused person is released on bond, he forfeits his right to a probable cause hearing. So, he could post bond and be released or sit in jail for a few weeks for a hearing that might produce some favorable evidence and might help him in the long run. However, hearsay is admissible in a PC hearing, and usually, the only testimony is from an arresting officer or his partner reading a one or two-page report, which we could get even if the PC hearing is forfeited. Mr. Welch for years has been conducting PC hearings and bond hearings and guiding clients whether to post a bond or sit in jail pending a hearing. Only an experienced lawyer could give good, reliable advice. The policeman, jailer, and bondsman are not allowed to give legal advice.

A slightly different bail bond rule applies to military persons, who are entitled to have their superior officer sign for them if the bond is set at a low amount and the alleged offense is not a serious crime. An accused person should have a lawyer for this complex matter.

Criminal charges begin their court procedure with an Arraignment, which is an important point because it marks the deadline for filing constitutional challenges to the charge. In practice, arraignment has become a time for the judge to determine if the defendant has an attorney and if the defendant wants to plead guilty or not guilty. It is an important court appearance requiring the defendant's presence in court unless waived by an attorney.

In courts in Marietta as well as Cherokee, Paulding, Douglas, Fulton, and area counties, the next step is a motions court appearance in which the judge hears evidenced and rules on motions the defendant or the prosecutor has filed. Next is calendar call and jury or non-jury trial. It would not be a good idea to wait until the day before court to hire a lawyer.

Mr. Welch has been through thousands of court appearances and understands the procedures. He is able to give helpful advice and save unnecessary expenses and hours. Occasionally, it is necessary to file or defend a client on appeal. Mr. Welch has vast experience in appellate courts in Georgia, federal courts, and even the United States Supreme Court.

He has served as the lead lawyer in hundreds of criminal jury trials, including felonies and misdemeanors, and has represented clients in contested cases in juvenile court, probate court, and traffic court. Initial telephone conferences are available without charge. The firm accepts most major credit cards and can schedule appointments after hours and weekends.