Opinions header text

One of the duties of the Attorney General is to give his legal opinion, when required to do so by the Governor, on any question of law connected with the interest of the state or with the duties of any of the departments. O.C.G.A. § 45-15-3(1). However, to avoid having the Governor endorse all requests for opinions originating within the departments of the state, the Attorney General receives requests for opinions directly from the heads of the executive departments.

The Attorney General will also provide opinions to other state officers, such as legislators, judges or district attorneys. The Attorney General does not generally provide legal advice, opinions or representation to county or municipal governments or officials, but will on request review the written legal opinions and conclusions of counsel for local governments.

Opinions issued to the Governor and the heads of the executive departments are classified as "Official Opinions." Those issued to other state officers (such as legislators, judges or district attorneys) are classified as "Unofficial Opinions." Additionally, from time to time the Attorney General will approve interstate compacts or issue position papers on questions of state law. Those documents are published along with the opinions of the Attorney General.

This presentation of the opinions of the Georgia Attorney General is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice to the general public. From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete.


Opinion In Reference To

Inmate firefighters should be considered volunteer firefighters as defined in O.C.G.A. § 25-4-3(9) (Supp. 2011) and not a separate category. The Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council has the authority to set minimum requirements for volunteer firefighters, the category to which inmates belong, serving as firefighters on fire departments as defined in O.C.G.A. § 25-3-21(2)(B) and to establish and modify by rule and regulation minimum requirements for such fire departments generally, regardless of whether they are staffed solely or partially with inmate firefighters.


The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act provides authority for Columbia County to assume jurisdiction over matters of juvenile delinquency occurring on the Fort Gordon military installation, except under those circumstances where the federal authority makes a certification under 18 U.S.C. § 5032 that the state system cannot assume such jurisdiction.

2012-1 An absent municipality cannot be forced under O.C.G.A. § 48-8-89 to accept a smaller percentage of the local option sales and use tax proceeds distributed to all qualified municipalities in the county than the percentage the absent municipality’s population is of the total population of all such qualified municipalities.

Investigators of the Enforcement Division who are certified as peace officers may enforce the new statute of aggravated identity fraud, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-121.1, by arrest and the execution of search warrants provided that it is the result of a criminal investigation of an alleged violation of the workers’ compensation laws of Chapter 9 of Title 34.


The five percent limitation on alternative investments for the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund is to be based upon the assets’ aggregate historical cost.

2012-1 In compliance with applicable statutes and the policies of the State Depository Board, the Office of the State Treasurer is empowered to enter into repurchase agreements and reverse repurchase agreements in connection with fulfilling its role related to managing the investment and liquidity needs of the State.


Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


A member of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission may serve no more than one complete four year term of office, as set by law, and may for a period of less than a complete term hold over in office until his successor is duly appointed and properly takes office.


The Georgia Aviation Authority is not a law enforcement agency within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 16‑13‑49 for the purpose of sharing in forfeiture funds

2011-2 Regional and county library employees paid solely with local funds are required to be members of the Teachers Retirement System.

Supplementation of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


The “Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights,” O.C.G.A. § 17‑17‑1 through ‑16, has only limited application to juvenile court proceedings.


Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


Unless and until the General Assembly adopts clarifying legislation, it is within the sound discretion of the TRS Board of Trustees to determine whether teachers who are employed not less than half-time by commission charter schools must be members of the Teachers Retirement System.


O.C.G.A. § 35‑3‑37(d)(1) permits both the original arresting agency and the Georgia Crime Information Center to recover reasonable fees for the actual cost of expunging arrest records and accompanying documents up to $50.00 each.

2010-1 The Open Meetings Act, O.C.G.A. § 50 14 1, applies to the Drug Utilization Review Board created by the Georgia Department of Community Health.
2010-4 Investigators employed by the Georgia Forestry Commission and by the Georgia Department of Agriculture are not eligible for membership in the Peace Officers Annuity and Benefit Fund.

The judicial operations fund fee imposed by O.C.G.A. § 15-21A-6.1(a) applies to the fee to be remitted to clerks of superior court for the issuance of certificates of appointment and reappointment to notaries public.

2010-2 Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.

When the General Assembly extends a sunset date in subsection (h) of Code section 48-8-67 in the manner of 2009 Ga. Laws 723, the extended authority to process unidentifiable sales tax proceeds pursuant to the Code section applies to undisbursed, unidentifiable proceeds of a preceding period of time, which began with the earlier sunset date and ended with its extension (the ¨gap period¨).


The Georgia Department of Transportation’s authority to enter a binding contract pursuant to the former Public Private Initiatives law was revoked by the 2009 Public Private Partnership law; those projects or portions of projects which were not formalized by an executed contract with the selected firm before May 11, 2009, must be re-procured under the authority and provisions of the 2009 law.


A lawyer/legislator may represent the legal interests of a Georgia company on matters in other states, including political consulting and the drafting of legislation.  However, even where there may not be a per se conflict of interest, a lawyer/legislator must always vigilantly guard against such conflicts developing depending upon the facts and circumstances of each situation, especially where matters arise involving the lawyer/legislator’s own actions in the consideration of legislation within the General Assembly.


The state and its departments, agencies, and authorities, including the Georgia Department of Transportation and its construction projects, are not subject to the “post-development stormwater runoff” regulations or other ordinances adopted by a local government, local authority, or regional authority, including the model ordinance promulgated by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.


The director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council has broad authority and is responsible for the day to day operation of the agency.   The Council’s limited responsibilities, to be carried out concurrently with the director, include setting standards, conducting audits, making financial disclosures, receiving funds, providing for legal education, reporting to the General Assembly, and providing procedures for the appointment of conflict council.


Code section 46‑2‑5 is constitutional; the Commission does not have the authority to declare the statute unconstitutional; the Commission is not free to disregard the statute; the Commission may not select a chairman for a two-year term; and a chairman whose term commences on July 1, 2009, may serve beyond January 16, 2010, only if there are no other commissioners eligible to serve as chairman under O.C.G.A. § 46‑2‑5(b)(2).


Because of the constitutional requirement that the branches of government must remain forever separate and distinct, an assistant district attorney, whether paid by a county or by the State, may not serve as a member of the General Assembly.


The City of Snellville is preempted by the Georgia Air Quality Act from adopting a comprehensive ordinance that would impose air quality related regulatory requirements and emission limitations on the operation of a crematorium.


Under general law, Georgia boards of education are not empowered to share services by creating and utilizing a nonprofit corporation such as the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia, Inc., for the purpose of challenging state school funding by litigation or otherwise.


The General Assembly was authorized to place the GPDSC in the executive branch and a suit by GPDSC, whether by pro bono counsel or otherwise, against the State for so placing the GPDSC in the executive branch (or for any other reason) would be ultra vires and illegal.


Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


Vacancies in the offices of mayor and council members for the City of Willacoochee should be filled by special election held on a statutorily authorized date and not by appointment of the remaining members of the city council.


Georgia law prohibits the Office of Child Support Services from honoring a request from a custodial parent to disburse any portion of child support monies it receives to a private collection agency.


The enforcement provisions of O.C.G.A. § 40‑6‑253 remain in effect, including for bottles of wine resealed pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 3‑6‑4, and the 2008 changes in Georgia law were not intended to and did not authorize carrying open alcoholic beverage containers in the passenger area of vehicles.


Fingerprinting in regard to 2008 legislative amendments to O.C.G.A. § 40‑5‑20 and O.C.G.A. § 40‑5‑121.


The Department’s probation staff may assist prosecuting attorneys in obtaining necessary reports and files and in creating delinquency petitions but may not conduct an accusatory proceeding.  The Department’s probation staff must also comply with valid court orders issued pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15‑11‑24.2(6).


The amount required to be withheld and paid over to the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund in criminal or quasi-criminal cases for violation of state statutes, county ordinances, or municipal ordinances is not required to be withheld and paid over in cases involving the failure to wear a seat safety belt in a motor vehicle under O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1(e).

2008-3 Members of the Teachers Retirement System who performed active duty military service while serving in a reserve component may establish service credit within the System, and they may do so even though that service time has also been used to establish service credit for a military retirement.

The Department of Revenue is authorized to provide access to the information contained in the Georgia Registration and Title Information System only for the purposes mandated by the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, or to those state agencies designated in O.C.G.A. § 40-2-130(c), O.C.G.A. § 40-3-23(d), and O.C.G.A. § 33-34-9.


Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


A probate judge serving in a county with a population of over 96,000, where jury trials are authorized in the probate court, must have been both admitted to the practice of law and be a member of the Georgia Bar for seven years prior to his or her election.


Miscellaneous questions concerning the procurement of goods and services under the set aside provisions of Georgia’s State Use Law.


A county may not borrow from county Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) proceeds to fund expenditures other than voter-approved capital projects authorized in the SPLOST statutes. 

2007-3 All-terrain vehicles operating on the roadways in the State of Georgia are motor vehicles and as such are governed by the Uniform Rules of the Road as set forth in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-1 through 40-6-397.
2007-4 The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not prevent the release of information on copies of death certificates about the cause of death of an individual, as well as conditions leading to the persons death and information regarding surgical proceedings conducted on the deceased, if any, that are released under the Georgia Open Records Act.
2007-2 A consumer reporting agency or a credit reporting business that is exempt from licensure requirements as a private detective business under O.C.G.A. § 43-38-14(a)(2) nevertheless must obtain a license from the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies to perform private detective business activities as defined in O.C.G.A. § 43-38-3(3) that do not fall within the scope of this exemption or some other exemption.
2007-1 Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.


The documentation requirement in O.C.G.A. § 35 8 22, as amended, does not prevent a governmental unit from seeking reimbursement after July 1, 2003, for the training of a peace officer hired before July 1, 2003.


Absent explicit statutory provisions to the contrary, the Merit System Act does not generally authorize the State Personnel Board or the commissioner to promulgate rules or adopt policies that would be binding on agencies or departments that are not covered, nor can such rules or policies be promulgated pursuant to a gubernatorial executive order.


O.C.G.A. § 47‑20‑50(a), which requires generally that retirement bills be concurrently funded, and section 2 of 2006 Ga. Laws 117, which requires a specific determination of concurrent funding regarding O.C.G.A. § 47‑17‑71 (Supp. 2006), do not repeal O.C.G.A. § 47‑17‑71 (Supp. 2006), which allows for the grant of creditable service to peace officers for service prior to January 1, 1976, if the officer was denied membership to the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund because of race or ethnicity.