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Georgia senator faces criminal charges, possible suspension

Republican Senator Don Balfour of Snellville, Georgia, is facing numerous criminal charges, including creating a false certificate, illegally claiming legislative costs, double-billing and theft. A panel has also recommended that the lawmaker be suspended from his duties.

Last September, a grand jury charged Balfour with the felony charges. Although the embattled senator admitted to committing mistakes, his attorney asserted that no crime was committed by the lawmaker.

The senator had been under the microscope for payments he received during his tenure in the General Assembly. Previously, he agreed to pay a penalty of $5,000 from the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting in-state work pay.

In addition, a panel led by the state's Supreme Court Chief Justice and two Republican lawmakers have recommended that the senator be suspended. According to the state's Constitution, the Senator will be suspended until the expiration of his term or until an outcome of his criminal case is reached. The Senate's Republican leaders also removed him from several Senate committees, where he held various titles including Chairman and Vice-chairman.

Criminal charges are often magnified when the accused person is in the public eye. However, whether the accused holds a high position or is an ordinary DeKalb County resident, a felony charge should never be taken lightly. Mere allegations can do damage to a person's reputation, and a conviction can lead to a hefty fine and possibly a prison sentence.

A DeKalb County resident facing serious charges needs to consider all of their options. One option is to prepare an aggressive defense to challenge the veracity of witness accounts, evidence and errors during the investigation process.

Source: Online Athens, "Panel Recommends Suspension of Georgia Lawmaker," Nov. 13, 2013

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