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John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

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Top Ten Ways to Damage Your Criminal Case

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Being accused of a crime is bad enough, but some people still manage to make their bad situation even worse.  Based on my seventeen years in this profession, here are the top ten ways I see people damage their criminal cases:

1. Skip bail.  If you fail to show for court, you're going to lose whatever respect the judge may have for you as well as give the proseuctor an argument for why you aren't a good candidate for probation.  The judge will issue a warrant for your arrest which will pop up at the worst possible time, like when you are standing at the airport trying to leave for vacation or when you get stopped for speeding on the way to your daughter's wedding.

2. Move, but don't tell anyone.  If I can't find you then your bail bonding company probably can't find you and the court can't find you, so now it looks like you've skipped bail, because you won't get court notices in the mail and you won't get letters from your attorney.  See #1.  Just because you may have told the Post Office your new address doesn't mean the Judge has it.  It is not the job of the court system to hunt you down. It is your job to keep them informed of your whereabouts.  If you don't want to do that, at least tell your lawyer and bail bondsman.

3. Change telephone numbers, but don't tell anyone.  So this way, the only method left of communicating with you is by mail or  email. You've now put yourself at a disadvantage because your lawyer can't find you, or at least can't find you on short notice.

4. Talk about your case on Facebook.  Facebook isn't private.  Cops and prosecutors have it too, and sometimes they can see more than other users can see.  If you are charged with stealing a TV, don't post a picture on FB of yourself holding the TV.  If you are charged with armed robbery, don't post a picture of yourself on FB holding a firearm.

5. Talk about your case on jail telephones.  Those are recorded.  Just assume that anything you say on a jail telelphone to anyone but your lawyer can and will be used against you.  Calls to your lawyer aren't supposed to be recorded, but why take the chances?  I prefer to talk to my clients in person.

6. Get arrested for something new while your other case pending.  Now you are all but assured that you are going to sit in jail without bail until both cases are resolved, and you've given the prosecutor an argument why you need prison more than probation.  If you really want to compound your problems, get arrested again for the same thing you were arrested for last time, like my client who managed to get two more DUI's while the first one was still pending.

7. Don't pay your lawyer.  I will take your case as seriously as you do, or don't.  Taking your case seriously means paying your attorney to work on your case.  If you decide you need new rims on your car more than you need to pay your lawyer, I will understand that you do not take your case seriously and neither should I.   

8. Fail a drug test.  Some judges will randomly test you for drugs while on bond.  If you fail, you're going to end up back behind bars.  Urine tests are incredibly sensitive nowadays, to the point that alcohol hand sanitizer can cause a false positive. 

9. Lie to your lawyer.  Lie to everyone else all you want, but don't lie to your lawyer.  We can't help you if you don't help us understand what's going on.  We know only as much about the case as you tell us, and everything you say is confidential.

10. Talk to police.  No single act puts more people in prison than the act of sitting down with a cop and telling "your side of the story."   Cops are trained professionals in techniquest to convince people to talk about things they shouldn't admit.  Don't fall for it.  You're digging your grave when you do.  Remain silent and call your lawyer. 

 MORE:

Another Top 10 Reasons to Remain SILENT

Why Do Innocent People Confess?

$teakley'$ Golden Rule$

Top 10 MORE Things Clients Do To Damage Their Cases

Famous False Confession Cases

False Confessions Plague Criminal Justice System With Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful "Guilty" Pleas

Don't Talk To The Police - EVER!

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Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.


He was selected by the National College of District Attorneys to attend advanced legal seminars in Santa Fe, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Houston. In 2000, he was appointed to the position of Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee by Attorney General Janet Reno, and reappointed again the following year.


In 2001, he accepted an offer from the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office and spent the next four years representing the State of Georgia in several hundred serious felony cases.   He continues to handle the most serious of cases, often winning outright dismissals of charges, or significant reductions for his clients.  For more about the type of cases Mr. Steakley has handled, click here:  Selected Criminal Cases


SteakleyCh5336x280In 2006 he was a founding partner of Crosby, Haldi & Steakley, LLC, located in Decatur.  Now in private practice since 2007 as John A. Steakley, P.C., headquartered in Marietta, he represents individuals in a wide variety of matters, using his experience to provide his clients with quality legal representation. He is licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Georgia, but focuses almost solely on Georgia.  


In 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court certified him as a Mentor for theTransition Into Law Practice Program, serving as a role model and mentoring young attorneys just entering into the practice of law.  This came on the heels of years of coaching the Emory University Law School's Mock Trial Team in how to be effective and successful courtroom litigators.


In addition to advocating for his clients in the courtroom, Mr. Steakley is a strong proponent of individual liberties.  He co-authored a scholarly work on whether the United States Constitution afforded citizens the right to record their interactions with police even in private places.  This article has garnered attention and raised awareness about this timely legal-technology issue, and was named one of the "Must Read Articles of 2012" by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 


He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, the Tennessee Court of Civil Appeals, the State Bar of Georgia, the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Gwinnett County Bar Association, and Cobb County Bar Association.


When not practicing law, Mr. Steakley is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys flying around the Southeast.  He has been a pilot since 1999.

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