Crossing The Guard Line Attorney in Georgia
One crime that is unfamiliar to a lot of Americans is crossing the guard line. It occurs when someone enters into a prison or other correctional building with a gun, pistol, alcohol or drugs. An example of a way the police often charge someone with crossing the guard line is when after a DUI arrest someone forgets that he or she had drugs or weapons in a pocket
During a Georgia DUI Arrest, the police officer will do a pat-down search of the accused. Although most weapons are easily detected, the police may miss small quantities of drugs. Many of my clients are so distracted by their arrest that they forget about the contraband on their person.
The trouble happens when they are searched a second time (or realize they have it) after entering the jail. When a jailer finds the contraband, then a person can then be charged with the felony offense of Crossing the Guard Line in Georgia.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §42-5-15
It shall be unlawful for any person to come inside the guard lines established at any state or county correctional institution with a gun, pistol, or any other weapon or with or under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, amphetamines, biphetamines, or any other hallucinogenic or other drugs, without the knowledge or consent of the warden, superintendent, or his designated representative.
The example above illustrates a situation that where the police can charge someone with a felony, where they have no intention to commit a crime. The offense is created by the arrest for a misdemeanor. Our legislature never intended to have people prosecuted for a mistake.
Crossing the Guard Line in Georgia, as a criminal violation, is a law designed to punish someone who tries to sneak contraband into a jail or prison. If someone is driving under the influence and then is arrested, he or she had no criminal intent even to visit a jail, let along sneak something in. It is appalling that the police charge a specific intent crime when there is, of course, no intention at all.
There is very little appellate case law regarding Crossing the Guard Line. However, the issue of intent has been covered in several cases.
In Georgia, a woman was convicted of crossing the guard line. Bradley v. State, 292 Ga. App. 737, (2008). The accused, Bradley, worked as a correctional officer at a state prison. One morning after Bradley had crossed the guard line, a drug-detecting dog walked by her car and was alerted to the presence of drugs in her car. Prison employees discovered a cookie box that contained marijuana, rock cocaine, and small amounts of powder. Bradley argued that she had no knowledge there were drugs inside the box. She testified that she picked up the cookie box from a man she did not know at the request of a friend and agreed to deliver the box to a third person inside the prison. Bradley said she was in a hurry to get to work, so she did not notice anything unusual about the box.
During the trial, the jury concluded that the correctional officer's actions were not reasonable. The court held that it was unreasonable for a corrections officer to take a suspicious package, from an unknown person, into a prison to give to an unknown recipient. Even though Bradley stated that she had no idea drugs were in the cookie box, the Court found by looking at the totality of the circumstances that she knew she possessed contraband. Therefore, the jury convicted Bradley of crossing the guard line in Georgia.
As stated above, in the context where the charge occurred after the arrest for some other crime, the issue is criminal intent. Criminal intent is an essential element of a crime, and the prosecutor must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Intent to Cross the Guard Line would have to be shown by examining the evidence. If someone came at a correctional institution with contraband, while visiting someone else, then there is a clear intention to violate the law. If someone tried to pass drugs or a weapon to a correctional officer, there also is clear criminal intent.
If someone is arrested for a DUI and happens to have less than an ounce of marijuana in his or her pocket, they had no intention to bring it into the jail. They had no intention of going to jail in the first place.
If someone is convicted of crossing the guard line in Georgia, they will face a punishment of prison for one and four years and will be guilty of a felony. However, felony convictions extend beyond a prison term and can affect you from obtaining employment, credit, or a house.
As with any felony conviction, you can lose your right to vote and own a firearm. You also will lose your privilege to travel both throughout the United States and Internationally.
The other collateral consequences of a felony conviction are too numerous to list in this article.
As with any felony offense, if a person decides to plead guilty, they can ask to be sentenced under the first offender act. As a first offender, the court can withhold the adjudication of guilty during a person's probation. If the defendant completes probation, without any violations, they will be adjudicated "not guilty."
Remember, a person can only use the Georgia First Offender Act one time in their lifetime, and it does not apply to a DUI Arrest.
Richard Lawson and his Georgia DUI Attorneys have over 25 years experience and are here to help you. If you have been charged with crossing the guard line, contact our office today. We are here to help, and more importantly, defend you. The fact that contraband was brought into the jail does not make you automatically guilty. Our best argument is common sense. Call now.