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What is Criminal Charge Stacking?

May 1, 2024 Posted In Criminal Defense

As if being charged with a criminal offense was not difficult enough, you could be facing several criminal charges related to a single event. This is commonly referred to as criminal charge stacking.

Multiple charges may apply and could result in substantial criminal penalties and collateral consequences that could permanently alter the course of your life. Understanding the allegations against you and the potential penalties associated with a conviction will be paramount as you begin to strategize your defense.

Defining Criminal Charge Stacking

Criminal charge stacking refers to a defendant facing multiple criminal charges at one time. The law enforcement officials reviewing your case will consider whether multiple laws were broken during a single event. For example, if you were charged with driving under the influence of drugs under Georgia Code § 40-6-391, you might also be charged with drug possession under O.C.G.A. 16-13-30, drug trafficking under O.C.G.A. 16-13-31, or even evading arrest under Georgia Code § 40-6-395 if you do not comply with the arresting officer’s commands.

The state will often stack criminal charges to strengthen the district attorney’s case against you. This increases the likelihood of securing a guilty verdict, even if you are ultimately acquitted of one or more of the other charges against you. It is important to know that criminal stacking can occur in virtually any type of criminal offense, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, sex crimes, property crimes, and other offenses.

Types of Charges That May Be Stacked Together

There are countless possible scenarios that could result in criminal charges being stacked together. We see this often in instances of drug offenses. However, it can also occur in other types of crimes. For example, if you are accused of assaulting another patron in a nightclub, not only could you be charged with assault under Ga. Code § 16-5-20, but if you are accused of assault with a firearm, you could also be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm under Georgia Code § 16-11-123 if you are a convicted felon.

Another example could be if you are accused of committing a white-collar crime. Let’s say you were accused of embezzlement. Depending on the type of embezzlement you allegedly committed, you could also be charged with extortion O.C.G.A. §16-8-16(d), identity theft under Georgia Code § 16-9-121, or even money laundering.

What to Expect if Your Criminal Charges Are Stacked

If you are facing stacked criminal charges, it is important to exercise your right to defend yourself. The state is likely pursuing multiple criminal charges not only because you allegedly committed the offense, but because they want to ensure you are convicted on at least one of the charges against you.

It is important to prepare for the worst but work with your criminal defender to understand the severity of the charges you are facing. If you are convicted on several of the stacked criminal charges, the length of your sentence may be far more severe if your sentence is not to be served concurrently.

Steps to Take If You Are Facing Multiple Criminal Charges in Georgia

When you are accused of committing multiple criminal offenses, it is critical to get legal support. You may have the option of consulting a public defender who can help you present the strongest defense possible. However, they are often overworked and unable to give the accused the attention they are entitled to.

Consult a legal professional to prearrange bail, represent you during your pre-trial hearings, and negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charges against you reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed entirely. If going to trial is necessary, you should feel confident that your chosen criminal defender has done everything in their power to secure your acquittal.