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Georgia Criminal Justice Reform – Behavioral Incentive Dates

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For many years Georgia had the highest per-capita rate of citizens either incarcerated or under community supervision. In the past decade Georgia has led the nation in criminal justice reform under the direction of the Office of the Governor and Justice Boggs of the Georgia Supreme Court. One of the provisions included in the sweeping criminal justice reform is Behavioral Incentive Dates (BIDs).

A BID is a date on which felony probation is reviewed and likely terminated early, so long as the defendant has complied with the terms of probation including completing all special conditions of probation (fines, restitution, community service, classes, etc.).

Who qualifies for a BID?
There are a number of criteria that must be met to get a BID.
a) The Defendant must have NO PRIOR FELONY CONVICTIONS.
b) Must be a felony conviction, or plea pursuant to conditional discharge or the first offender act.
c) The sentence must be entirely probated or no more than 12 months imprisonment followed by probation.

What happens with a BID?
If the criteria above are met then the Judge should include a BID in the sentencing order. The BID may not be more than 3 years from the date of the sentence. This effectively offers a mandatory maximum of a 3 year early-termination date to any first felony sentence. To put this in perspective, many felony sentences last for 5, 10, 15, or more years.
If the defendant completes all the terms of probation and does not violate any of the general conditions of probation, then on the BID the probation office will send a letter to the Judge and the DA saying so. The DA may object to the BID and then the case would be set for a hearing so that the Judge can determine if it is in “the best interest of justice and the welfare of society” to allow the defendant to get the benefit of the BID.

How could I lose my BID?
a) Getting arrested for anything but a nonserious traffic offense. Nonserious traffic offenses are essentially any traffic offenses that are not labeled as “serious traffic offenses” – there are seven of them that include DUI, reckless driving, vehicular homicide, fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, and a couple of others. Getting arrested for anything but a nonserious traffic offense would include being arrested for a new felony or any other misdemeanor.
b) Not complying with the general and special conditions of probation. There are a number of general conditions of probation, including keeping contact with your probation officer, not breaking the law, paying all fines, holding a job, and supporting your dependents. Failure to do so may result in a violation of probation (you go to jail) and a loss of the BID.
c) Not paying all restitution owed (if any). Restitution is an amount paid to the victim of a crime for the costs of the crime committed. The State has an interest in making sure the victims are properly compensated so you must pay all restitution by the BID to have the BID considered.

Sentencing is often overlooked by many attorneys and is actually one of the most important parts of any criminal case. The vast majority of cases end in some kind of plea deal. Also, the vast majority of cases are over-charged, and the plea is often to significantly reduced crimes compared to what was originally alleged.

Crafting a fair and reasonable sentence is often done in conversation between the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge. That said, even some attorneys don’t know all the tools they have to work with. For any case, you want an attorney who knows what tools he or she has available from the beginning of the case to the end of the case, that includes being well-prepared for sentencing. The attorneys at Perrotta, Lamb, and Johnson, LLC. keep a vigilant watch on criminal justice reform in the state of Georgia in order to constantly keep the best tools, the best laws, readily available for your case. The first question is always whether the State can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but if they can then the next question will be how to get the most favorable outcome for our clients. BIDs are just one of the many ways that we can work for you to get the best possible outcome in your case.

Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-1(a)(1)(B) (eff. July 1, 2018)
Ga. Code Ann. § 40-6-390, et. seq. (eff. July 1, 2018)

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