Sharp Increase in Georgia Violent Crime Leads to Calls for More Mandatory Minimum Sentences
As a result of an alarming rise in violent crimes, Georgia law enforcement officials are urging legislation that would impose mandatory minimum sentences for a wider range of crimes than are prescribed under current law. Police and sheriffs across the state seek to bar early release for any crime involving use of knives or firearms, and especially for repeat offenders.
According to FBI statistics, Georgia violent crimes saw a 17.4 percent increase from 2019 to 2020, one of the sharpest rises in the nation. In particular, homicides shot up markedly from 654 to 943 — a 44.2 percent increase. Aggravated assault was involved in about 75 percent of the violent crimes reported.
In recent testimony before the state Senate Public Safety Committee, Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association suggested a mandatory sentence of five years for convicted felons found in possession of a firearm. Butch Ayers, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, singled out drive-by shootings, for which the current sentence can be as low as one year in jail depending on whether harm results to a person or only to property.
Although no bill has yet been introduced, the committee plans to hold additional meetings to continue to look at crime trends and to hear testimony on the effectiveness of mandatory minimums as deterrents to violent crime.
In Georgia, these violent crimes currently call for mandatory minimum sentences or limited eligibility for parole as follows:
- Murder/felony murder — life in prison, life without parole or death. For murder in the second degree, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years with possible parole.
- Kidnapping — 10 years in prison without parole. If the victim is under the age of 14, the minimum is 25 years in prison without parole, followed by lifetime probation.
- Rape — 25 years in prison without parole, followed by lifetime probation
- Aggravated child molestation — 25 years in prison without parole, followed by lifetime probation
- Aggravated sodomy — 25 years in prison without parole, followed by lifetime probation
- Aggravated sexual battery — 25 years in prison without parole, followed by lifetime probation
- Armed robbery — 10 years in prison without parole
Violent crimes tend to draw the stiffest sentences in Georgia even if no mandatory minimum exists on the books. If you face prosecution on a charge of doing physical harm to another person, you need an experienced defense lawyer who will challenge the state’s case and present mitigating evidence that can lead to sentence reduction.
At James D. Michael, P.C. in Decatur, Georgia, we provide effective criminal defense for clients in and around DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. Please call us at 404-857-4059 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.