VENUE IN A GEORGIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE CASE
Despite the repeated efforts of the Georgia appellate courts, prosecutors in Georgia criminal casescontinue to have issues with proving venue. Venue is an element of every criminal prosecution in Georgia, and the State is required to prove venue beyond a reasonable doubt in every criminal case. “[V]enue is a jurisdictional fact the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in every criminal case, ‘the determination of whether venue has been established is an issue soundly within the province of the jury.’” Rouse v. State, 296 Ga. 213, 215, 765 S.E.2d 879 (2014).Venue is, generally speaking, the county in which the crime is alleged to have occurred.
VENUE FOR HOMICIDE CASES IN GEORGIA
The rule for determining venue and what must be proven in a Georgia criminal case involving homicide allegations is:
Criminal homicide shall be considered as having been committed in the county in which the cause of death was inflicted. If it cannot be determined in which county the cause of death was inflicted, it shall be considered that it was inflicted in the county in which the death occurred. If a dead body is discovered in this state and it cannot be readily determined in what county the cause of death was inflicted, it shall be considered that the cause of death was inflicted in the county in which the dead body was discovered.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT CANNOT BE DETERMINED WHERE VENUE PROPERLY LIES IN GEORGIA
OCGA § 17–2–2(c). Subsection (h) of this statute further provides:
If in any case it cannot be determined in what county a crime was committed, it shall be considered to have been committed in any county in which the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that it might have been committed.
The State may prove venue both direct and circumstantial evidence. See Jones v. State, 272 Ga. 900, 902–903, 537 S.E.2d 80 (2000).
For recent consideration of venue in a Georgia homicide case, see Crawford v. State, No. S15A0895, 2015 WL 5316792, at *2 (Ga. Sept. 14, 2015).
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