Navigating the Criminal Justice System in Savannah: A Guide for Defendants

As in any city or town, there are certain places in Savannah where you are likely to be seen or to see certain people. This is especially true if you are a person of color and someone with whom the police have their sights on. If you plan on being in this city for any length of time, it’s a good idea to learn something about your surroundings—and the people who live there. As an incarcerated individual, you probably already know that the system has particular rules and problems that can make reentry into society particularly challenging. But do you know how these systems work? What might help mitigate some of the challenges ahead? Do you know where and how to ask for help? If not, this article is going to help a lot.

What is the Criminal Justice System?

The criminal justice system is a set of organizations and practices that exist to maintain social order and punish those who break the law. There are two main components of the criminal justice system: Public safety and Jurisdiction Public safety is made up of the police force and the court system, which together work to minimize crime in society while maintaining public peace. Jurisdiction deals with how criminal offenders are charged and monitored. From arrest through sentencing, this branch ensures that offenders are held accountable for their crimes, which keeps them from committing further offenses. The American criminal justice system is based on three pillars: Prosecutors, Judges and Prisoners.

How Does the Criminal Justice System Work?

The criminal justice system is intended to prevent crime and punish those who commit it. If a person is accused of committing a crime, they will likely be arrested by the police and be offered the opportunity to have their charges reduced or dismissed in exchange for pleading guilty. The person may also be offered a plea bargain that includes some type of community service. As an offender, you will likely go through various courtrooms. These are typically located within the same building as other state offices. The first courtroom that you may go into is called the preliminary hearing. After your arrest, there may or may not be an indictment issued against you on the day or the next day. At this time, your case will be reviewed by either a grand jury or a prosecutor with jurisdiction over your case. In most cases, there will also be a bail hearing where bail is set and/or conditions are set on your release from custody.

Where to Go for Help in Savannah

The criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate, but there are services and support available for you. If you have questions about the criminal justice system, the first place to go is your local jail. The jail is where you will be taking your first steps into the judicial process. The staff at the jail will fill you in on what to do next, as well as answer any other questions that come up during this time. If you’re looking for more of a general resource, try visiting a nearby police station or community center. This may sound unusual, but these places are often great sources of information about the local legal system, including those who have been incarcerated before—and have a lot of experience with navigating it successfully. And if you still need help after doing all that searching, contact an attorney. Many attorney firms offer free consultations for criminal defendants who are facing legal issues and could use some advice on how to proceed from someone knowledgeable about the courts and their rights as a defendant in Savannah’s criminal justice process.

Ask for Help or Resources

Savannah is still a small, tight-knit community. You will have a lot of options, and it’s important to keep in mind that many people in the city want to help you. If you need legal assistance or a place to stay for the night, your first stop should be the local office of the public defender’s office. They can provide you with an overview of how the criminal justice system works as well as assistance with navigating the process. If you need assistance from someone else (such as finding employment), reach out to Savannah Legal Services (SLS). This organization helps create pro-bono opportunities for those able to afford their services but who do not have immediate needs. In addition to these organizations, consider reaching out to one of Savannah’s churches. These institutions are often well-versed in dealing with people in crisis situations because they have assisted so many people over time and have been doing so since before Savannah was even founded!

Get a Familiar Face in Court

In the criminal justice system, your court appearance is a very important event. It’s a chance to explain why you did what you did and try to persuade the judge or jury of your innocence. You may be able to use this time to make a deal for reduced charges and/or other concessions… or even just get the word out about your case. But, like with many parts of life, it pays to be prepared. For you to have that same opportunity, you need to know what face might show up in court on your behalf and how they can help as much as possible. This is where legal representation comes in.

Know Your Rights as an Inmate Re-Entry Program Participant

Once you’re released from the correctional system, it’s important to know about your rights as a re-entry program participant. There are many rights you have as a re-entry program participant that will help you succeed in your life after incarceration. Some of these include the right to housing, employment, education, public assistance, and more. The first step to knowing what rights you have is understanding which programs are available to you. There are several programs available for former inmates. Some of these include transitional housing and residential drug treatment centers. If one of these programs doesn’t suit your needs, there are also other options for assistance such as community service hours or a job training program. You can access these services by going through the re-entry office in the correctional institution at which you were incarcerated.

Stay Safe and Sound While on Release

The main thing you should remember is that while your time in the Savannah jail is over, you are still subject to the rules of society. This means that if you make it difficult for law enforcement to capture or find you, they will have no choice but to use greater force. If this happens and you get hurt, it’s going to be your own fault. If you try to avoid being caught by law enforcement, there’s a good chance that you will be seen as a criminal and face additional charges. If that happens, try taking a more casual approach with law enforcement from then on out—because if they can identify you at the courthouse before your trial, chances are they can identify you anywhere else down the line.
As an incarcerated individual, one of the most important things you can do is stay safe while on release. Keep an eye out for potential threats and take appropriate action as needed. Furthermore, always remain aware of your surroundings; don’t walk alone at night, and don’t stand too close to someone else who looks like they might pose a threat. There are also some other general tips to keep in mind: Stay calm and collected during arrest-related events; do not resist arrest; cooperate with law enforcement officials; obey all police orders; avoid making dramatic moves that might draw attention from onlookers or passersby; wear appropriate clothing during court proceedings; and maintain contact with family members or friends back home so they can help support you if needed.


Savannah is a big city, and with that comes a big criminal justice system. If you are on trial or in jail, you could end up in any number of courtrooms and jails in the city. So, what can you do to navigate the system? Contact criminal defense attorney Jarrett Maillet today to help you with your case. We are happy to help!
Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C.

210 E 31st St

Savannah, GA 31401