Does a Not Guilty Plea Serve As a Challenge to Venue at a Criminal Trial ?

In Graves v. State, 269 Ga. 772 (504 S.E.2d 679) (1998), the Supreme Court held that a "not guilty" plea serves as a challenge to venue at a criminal trial. Id. at 774. The majority finds that such challenge to venue is all that is necessary to preclude the slight evidence rule. A fortiori, the rule would be eliminated in every criminal trial since every such trial includes a "not guilty" plea. In reaching its conclusion, however, the majority ignores the fact that the Supreme Court in Graves also cited the well-recognized principle that slight evidence will be sufficient to prove venue when no challenge to venue is raised at trial and when the evidence as to venue is not in conflict. Id. at 773; See also: Minter v. State, 258 Ga. 629 (373 S.E.2d 359) (1988); Bass v. State, 238 Ga. App. 503, 504 (2) (519 S.E.2d 294) (1999); Frisbey v. State, 236 Ga. App. 883, 885 (2) (514 S.E.2d 453) (1999); Joiner v. State, 231 Ga. App. 61 (497 S.E.2d 642) (1998). This is a two-prong showing: to preclude the slight evidence rule there must be a challenge raised at trial and the evidence as to venue must conflict. Thus, contrary to the majority's position, a challenge to venue by virtue of the entry of a "not guilty" plea cannot, alone, preclude the fact that slight evidence of venue is sufficient to sustain a verdict.