2020 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 10 - Offenses Against Public Administration
Article 5 - Offenses Related to Judicial and Other Proceedings
§ 16-10-97. Intimidation or Injury of Any Officer in or of Any Court

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-10-97 (2020)
  1. A person who by threat or force or by any threatening action, letter, or communication:
    1. Endeavors to intimidate or impede any grand juror or trial juror or any officer in or of any court of this state or any court of any county or municipality of this state or any officer who may be serving at any proceeding in any such court while in the discharge of such juror's or officer's duties;
    2. Injures any grand juror or trial juror in his or her person or property on account of any indictment or verdict assented to by him or her or on account of his or her being or having been such juror; or
    3. Injures any officer in or of any court of this state or any court of any county or municipality of this state or any officer who may be serving at any proceeding in any such court in his or her person or property on account of the performance of his or her official duties

      shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or by imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both.

  2. As used in this Code section, the term "any officer in or of any court" means a judge, attorney, clerk of court, deputy clerk of court, court reporter, community supervision officer, county or Department of Juvenile Justice juvenile probation officer, or probation officer serving pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 8 of Title 42.
  3. A person who by threat or force or by any threatening action, letter, or communication endeavors to intimidate any law enforcement officer, outside the scope and course of his or her employment, or his or her immediate family member in retaliation or response to the discharge of such officer's official duties shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both.

(Code 1981, §16-10-97, enacted by Ga. L. 1988, p. 391, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 14, § 16; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 16; Ga. L. 2010, p. 999, § 2/HB 1002; Ga. L. 2011, p. 59, § 1-63/HB 415; Ga. L. 2012, p. 623, § 1/HB 541; Ga. L. 2015, p. 422, § 5-25/HB 310.)

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2011, p. 59, § 1-1/HB 415, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Jury Composition Reform Act of 2011.'"

Ga. L. 2015, p. 422, § 6-1/HB 310, not codified by the General Assembly, provides, in part, that this Act shall apply to sentences entered on or after July 1, 2015.

Law reviews.

- For article on the 2015 amendment of this Code section, see 32 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 231 (2015).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

O.C.G.A. § 16-10-97(a)(1) was unconstitutional as applied to the defendant, because there was no reference to any form of violence in the defendant's communications, not even an intimation of such. Harrell v. State, 297 Ga. 884, 778 S.E.2d 196 (2015).

Phrase "while in the discharge of such . . . officer's duties" was intended simply to limit the application of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-97(1) to those situations which arise out of or are related to the performance of the court officer's official duties, whether the proscribed activities occur while the court officer is actively engaged on the matter giving rise to the offense or whether the proscribed activities occur at some other juncture. Moon v. State, 199 Ga. App. 94, 404 S.E.2d 273 (1991), cert. denied, 199 Ga. App. 906, 404 S.E.2d 273 (1991).

Indictment insufficient.

- Defendant's special demurrer challenging the sufficiency of charges of impeding a court officer under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-97(a)(1) was properly sustained because the indictment provided no information about the language of the defendant's alleged threatening communications, how they were communicated, or how the communications allegedly impeded a court officer. However, the trial court erred in dismissing the entire indictment. State v. Cerajewski, 347 Ga. App. 454, 820 S.E.2d 67 (2018).

Contract probation employee is officer of the court.

- Trial court did not err in determining that a contract probation employee is an officer of the court within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-97. Edwards v. State, 247 Ga. App. 835, 545 S.E.2d 143 (2001).

Cited in In the Matter of Farmer, 307 Ga. 307, 835 S.E.2d 629 (2019).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Threats of violence against juror in criminal trial as ground for mistrial or dismissal of juror, 3 A.L.R.5th 963.

Construction and application of § 2A6.1 of United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG § 2A6.1), pertaining to sentence to be imposed for making threatening communications, 148 A.L.R. Fed. 501.

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