- Managing Partner
When facing federal or state crimes, people seek Tom’s diligent counsel and innovative representation. Tom handles all phases of the criminal justice process, from protecting folks who are initially targets of criminal investigations to representing them through trial, when trial is the only option. In these roles he successfully guides men and women through complicated pre-indictment and pre-trial negotiations, having secured the very rare, pre-trial diversion and non-prosecution agreements in federal and state courts, so people can live without the stigma of a conviction. Tom is also the veteran of hard-fought trials, where he presented juries with more than just the government’s version of the allegations, and as a result, juries unanimously awarded his clients with outright acquittals. From misdemeanors, like DUI, to complex and violent state and federal prosecutions, involving crimes such as armed robbery, child abuse, child exploitation, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and firearms, people turn to Tom’s ever-evolving knowledge of criminal law and procedure to guard their constitutional rights.
Regarding federal criminal cases, Tom understands the voluminous, harsh and fluctuating United States Sentencing Guidelines, which apply to almost every resolution, whether a client goes to trial or not, and require the consideration of many difficult concepts, such as relevant conduct and specific offense characteristics. Before and at sentencing, Tom’s knowledge of the Guidelines greatly assist his clients in appreciating their magnitude and the “how and why” of his or her guideline score.
Formerly, Tom served a felony prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office in Augusta, Georgia, which covered one of the largest and most diverse judicial districts in Georgia, and where he gained extensive trial experience. Unlike many of his peers, Tom’s background gives him a better understanding of law enforcement investigations and prosecutorial strategy, which drives his ability to resourcefully investigate charges and effectively defend his clients.
As well, Tom’s practice focuses on workers’ compensation law, where he protects and obtains important income and medical benefits that belong to men and women who were injured on the job. In immigration law, he represents foreigners who face complicated issues such as status adjustment and removal. He litigates other civil matters involving real estate, where issues of foreclosure, confirmation and bankruptcy arise, and probate and estate law. And, he is active in municipal law, serving as City Attorney for the City of Lyons, Georgia, where he advises its governing body and administration on matters such as condemnation, employment and ordinance compliance.
Finally, Tom’s practice maintains an active real estate transactional component. He is a member of the American Land Title Association and a title insurance agent for First American Title Insurance Company. During his career, he has handled numerous residential, commercial, agricultural and timber closings, frequently represent buyers and sellers, as well as community, regional and national banks and credit unions.
In sum, Tom routinely achieves successful outcomes for his clients whatever the issues involved.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Justice 60%
- General Civil Litigation 10%
- Municipal 10%
- Real Estate Transactions 10%
- Immigration 5%
- Workers Compensation 5%
- Georgia, 2002
- Georgia Court of Appeals, 2002
- Supreme Court of Georgia, 2002
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Georgia, 2006
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Georgia, 2013
- Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law, Macon, Georgia
- Juris Doctorate, 2001
- University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
- Bachelor's of History, 1997
- The Bank of Soperton, Soperton, Georgia
- City of Lyons, Georgia
- H.V. & T.G. Thompson Lumber Company, Ailey, Georgia
- The Millhouse, Brunswick, Georgia
- Peterson Dermatology, P.C., Vidalia, Georgia
- Tom Peterson Inc., Realtors, Vidalia, Georgia
Honors and Awards
- International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award, 2001
- Advisory Committee for the United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Member from 2013-present
- Circuit Public Defendant Advisory Panel, Middle Judicial Circuit, Member from 2012-present
- National District Attorneys Association/National Advocacy Center, 2004 and 2005
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Member
- National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Member
- Cornerstone Children’s Center of First United Methodist Church of Vidalia, Inc., Former Board Member
- Southeastern Early College and Career Academy, Board Member
- First United Methodist Church of Vidalia, Inc., Former Board Member
- Kiwanis Club of Vidalia, Inc., Former Board Member and President
- United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties, Former Board Member
- Vidalia Onion Run Committee (Kiwanis Club of Vidalia, Inc.), Former Chairman