Yeargan & Kert - April 2019


APRIL 2019 404-467-1747

MY ROAD TO BECOMING A LAWYER A JOURNEY WORTH TAKING If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve just received the very first edition of our firm’s newsletter. Our team has some great articles lined up, covering everything from some of our most frequently asked questions concerning Georgia law to fantastic recipes. But for this first article, I want to reflect on how this firm came to be. In a way, it all started on the couch with my grandmother. When I was young, my grandmother and I loved to sit and watch old crime shows like “Barney Miller,” “L.A. Law,” and “Hill Street Blues.” As I got older, these shows were replaced with “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue.” The dramatization of the criminal justice system fascinated me, and it wasn’t long before I started learning about the real thing. Between my interest in the law and my desire to own a business one day, I knew early in life that I wanted to be an attorney. With hard work and a lot of reading, I earned my undergraduate degree at Emory University and my law degree at Mercer in 2003, then I set out to make my mark on the world. Of course, I was just 25 at the time, so I had spirit in spades along with an utter lack of experience. I wanted to work as a prosecutor so I could really learn the ins and outs of criminal law, but those positions are notoriously competitive. Feeling like I was getting nowhere and needing to clear my head, I went with friends to the Virginia Highlands on a whim. This was strange. Normally, I never went to the Highlands — being 25, I usually went out in Buckhead. Nevertheless, I had a strange and unshakable feeling I needed to go there. I’m glad I chose to head there on that particular day, because this chance decision changed my life forever. While strolling past the shops and restaurants, I bumped into an old friend from law school. He was working for the City Court of Atlanta, which was undergoing a transition from being controlled by the state to being controlled by the city. A lot of prosecutors left the court during this shift because they were afraid they were going to lose their jobs. I sent him my resume, and I was hired shortly thereafter. At the time, I thought this job was going to last for 12 months until the court closed, and then I would have to find something else.

I hadn’t fully grasped just how understaffed this court was. Normally, new prosecutors have an extended training period, during which they shadow and assist a more experienced lawyer. This training period usually lasted 12 months. Instead, I had my own courtroom and was trying cases by myself after just 8 weeks. While it was extremely stressful at the time, I found I was learning lessons they just can’t teach in law school. I had to be independent, think on my feet, and internalize the fact that no two cases were the same. To this day, I’m grateful for the skills those early prosecutorial days taught me. Of course, my time as a prosecutor wasn’t devoid of mentorship. Early on, I was assigned a trainer: a great lawyer by the name of Julie Kert. She went above and beyond when it came to showing me the ropes, and I couldn’t be more grateful. When she left the prosecutor’s office to join a private firm, it was clear that the state had lost one of its best. After three years as a prosecutor, I too would strike out on my own. About eight years later, Julie and I ran into each other at a seminar and decided to get lunch together. After a bit of catching up, I half-jokingly threw out the offer for her to come join my firm, believing she’d politely decline. To my amazement, she said yes, and we were suddenly working together once again — this time to defend rather than prosecute. Looking back, there certainly was a lot of serendipity involved in the creation of our firm. There were times along the way that definitely felt like a roller-coaster ride, but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being a lawyer may not be as dramatic as those old TV shows I watched with my grandmother, but I’ve never known more rewarding work than protecting people’s futures. What I thought was going to be a 12-month job just to gain some legal experience has turned into a 16-year career that I love.

–Jim Yeargan



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For the Record April Fools’ Day might be the only appropriate time of year for you to prank your friends or coworkers with gags like dipping an onion in caramel and offering it as a candy apple or loosening the tops of the salt and pepper shakers. It’s also the one day of the year when big companies get to join in the mischief as well. Check out these company-wide April Fools’ jokes that left millions of people scratching their heads. NETFLIX’S PSA In 2015, everyone’s favorite online streaming company issued a PSA that warned binge-watchers all over the world of the social, physical, and psychological dangers of watching too much TV. In fact, if viewers watched more than two consecutive episodes of a show on April 1, they were greeted with a PSA from popular actors, like Michael Kelly from “House of Cards” or Taylor Schilling from “Orange Is the New Black.” Some stars even told Netflix users to “Turn off the TV and take a shower. You stink!” BURGER KING’S CHOCOLATE WHOPPER Just last year, Burger King fooled hungry customers by creating the Chocolate Whopper. The imaginary fast-food treat is made with chocolate cake buns, a chocolate “beef” patty, raspberry syrup as the ketchup, rings of white chocolate as the onions, milk chocolate as the lettuce, vanilla frosting Some of the most pressing questions new clients ask us have to do with their criminal records. This is completely understandable — creating or adding to an existing record can spell trouble for your ability to find employment down the road. Here are our answers to a few common concerns people have asked us about. WHAT ARE ‘FINGERPRINTABLE’ OFFENSES? As the name suggests, these are crimes for which the accused will be fingerprinted and photographed for the state’s records. There are many misdemeanors in the state of Georgia that are deemed “fingerprintable,” including DUI and possession of marijuana. In general, the only crimes that are not fingerprintable are city ordinance violations, county ordinance violations, and most traffic violations. For instance, reckless driving, a charge that is included in many DUI arrests, is not a fingerprintable offense, making it that much more important to fight drunken driving charges. WHEN DOES AN OFFENSE GO ON MY RECORD? If you are arrested on a fingerprintable offense, it will be recorded during the arrest process. This means that even if charges are dropped, an arrest may persist on your record, requiring you to request that it be restricted. Having a charge dismissed in a court of law may result in the arrest being restricted from your record. Offenses that

as mayo, and candied blood oranges as the tomatoes. This prank was quite a creative feat by Burger King staff, and merely watching the advertisement spiked glucose levels everywhere. EHARMONY’S ‘FUREVER LOVE’ DATING SERVICE FOR DOGS Perhaps the most wholesome

prank that’s ever been peddled to the masses was the launching of eHarmony’s FURever Love: Canine Compatibility Companion Service. The dating website claimed that based on the algorithms they use for creating compatible human relationships, they built this service to “create robust profiles for dogs based on key dimensions of their personality.” The biographies they created for the pups’ profiles included canine mate preferences, like “Looking for a tug-o-war partner,” “Must love squirrels,” and “It’s been ruff finding a quality stud to go on walks with.” While these April Fools’ Day jokes were all made in jest, the pranks certainly kept audiences guessing long after April 1 had passed, and it’s not hard to see why.


are not fingerprintable do not appear on your criminal history even when your fingerprints are taken at the jail. Charges that are not fingerprintable will not appear on your criminal history even if you are later convicted of the charges. WHAT’S ON MY RECORD NOW? For various reasons, people may wish to know if their past mistakes are still being kept by the state. For a fee (usually about $15), you can obtain a copy of your Georgia criminal history from your local police department or sheriff’s office. HOW DO I REMOVE A CONVICTION FROM MY RECORD? Unfortunately, Georgia remains one of the harshest states when it comes to record restriction (formerly known as expungement). While there are proposed laws that would allow Georgians to clear their names, the current system prevents anyone convicted of a fingerprintable offense from purging their record. Charges that are dismissed may be restricted by applying for restriction to the state, or the court may automatically forward the information for restriction. Keep in mind that just because charges are dismissed, this does not automatically mean they will be restricted from your record. Therefore, the best way to keep your record as clean as possible is by having an attorney handle your case properly from the beginning.



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Georgia Marijuana Misconceptions CLEARING THE AIR


The Atlanta City Council made waves in 2017 when they voted unanimously to reduce the penalties of marijuana possession to a $75 fine with no jail time. In the two years since, several Georgia cities and counties have followed suit. While these decisions were lauded by legalization advocates, it’s


important to remember that this measure is neither legalization nor full decriminalization. In fact, those charged with possession of marijuana can still face harsh penalties, including up to 12 months of jail time, a $1,000 fine, and a drug charge on their criminal history. Here’s why. CITY LIMITS These reduced penalties for possession have only been passed by city and county officials, meaning they are constrained to city limits. Thus, in the Atlanta area, the severity of your sentence can simply be a matter of which side of I-285 you’re on. For those caught in possession of marijuana outside Fulton County, you could be looking at jail time or a fine of up to $1000, since possession of marijuana is illegal statewide. COMPETING JURISDICTIONS Even within the city of Atlanta, it’s still possible to be jailed for having any amount of marijuana. That’s because state laws still call for harsh sentencing for possession, which can still be enforced despite contradictory local legislation. Any law enforcement officer, including certified members of the Atlanta Police Department, still has the ability to exercise discretion on whether to enforce city or state laws. HIDDEN COSTS Being found guilty of possession of marijuana has far-reaching consequences. A conviction may go on your criminal record, which can put your future in jeopardy. In fact, when one considers the possibility of denied scholarships, school admissions, and job applications, the cost of being found guilty, or pleading “nolo contendere,” is still incredibly high. So, contrary to popular belief, it is still illegal to possess any amount of marijuana in the state of Georgia. If you are charged with possession, it’s important to take steps to protect your livelihood, future, and criminal history. Our aggressive, experienced defense attorneys can help you do just that.

Inspired by

This super easy stir-fry is the perfect weekday dinner. It manages to pack a ton of flavor using just a handful of ingredients.

INGREDIENTS • 3 slices bacon • 3 cloves garlic,

• Salt and black pepper, to taste • 1/3 cup canola oil • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

coarsely chopped • 2 bunches spinach • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Heat a large skillet to medium. 2. While skillet is warming, cut bacon into squares.

3. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is almost to your desired doneness. If desired, you can remove bacon fat from skillet and replace with 1 tablespoon oil. However, keeping the fat is recommended for flavor. 4. Add garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes. 5. Add spinach and crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 10 minutes. 6. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.



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Yeargan & Kert, LLC 1170 Peachtree Street NE Suite 1200 Atlanta, GA 30309 404-467-1747



Jim’s Story

3 Hilarious April Fools’ Pranks Played by Businesses What Goes on Your Criminal Record?

Has Marijuana Really Been Decriminalized? Easy Bacon and Spinach Stir-Fry

Understanding Media Ratings



Despite guidance from ratings systems, it can be difficult for parents to discern what digital content is appropriate for their children. Learn more about ratings guidelines for common entertainment media and how to decipher that information so you can make educated decisions that work for your family. MOVIES: G-rated movies are considered suitable for all ages, whereas PG, PG-13, and R-rated movies are progressively less appropriate for kids because of violence, nudity, and language. Some ratings come with age limits; children who are under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult at R-rated movies. TV SHOWS: Due to laws that limit inappropriate content on public airwaves, TV rating systems follow unique codes. In the U.S., shows that are rated as TV-14 (content that is suitable for those ages 14 and older) can only air after 5 p.m. Meanwhile, TV-MA (content that is appropriate for mature audiences) can only air between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Most shows airing between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. are rated TV-G or TV-PG. These are similar in content to their movie counterparts. Some television children’s shows will also be rated as TV-Y or TV-Y7, and their only distinction is that TV-Y7 has been deemed appropriate for young children ages 7 and older. TV ratings

can also have additional descriptors attached to them to explain what kind of content earned the rating.

VIDEO GAMES: There are seven video game ratings: Early Childhood (EC), Everyone (E), Everyone 10+ (E10), Teen (T), Mature (M), Adults Only (AO), or Rating Pending (RP). These ratings provide consumers with more information about content. Again, as the age of the intended user increases, content progresses from allowing mild violence or suggestive content to adult themes. When choosing family entertainment, experts suggest using both the rating and the description of the media to make your decision since the rating system may not fully explain media content. For example, studies have found that a PG-13 movie can sometimes have just as much violence as an R-rated movie. Additionally, you may be fine with the content in a T-rated video game for a more developmentally advanced 11-year-old. Once you get past all the combinations of numbers and letters, you as a parent might find that ratings for video games, movies, and TV shows provide helpful information. Couple the ratings with your own research and your own values, and put an end to worrying about what surprises may lurk in your children’s media.



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