For drivers who have been charged with DUI in Atlanta, the court process can seem complicated and time-consuming. While there are several different hearings that will be scheduled, the good news is that you can hire a lawyer to attend many of these on your behalf, which can minimize the disruption this process will have on your professional and personal life.
The Atlanta Municipal Court DUI Process
The day you are placed under arrest for DUI will be the date that governs the schedule for your subsequent court appearances.
This will happen 24-48 hours after you are placed under arrest. If you have been arrested on Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, your arraignment will be scheduled for the following Monday. If you have been arrested on a weekday, your arraignment will generally be the next day. Your arraignment will take place in Courtroom 5A, and the Honorable Judge Christopher Ward will preside. The purpose of this appearance is for the judge to make sure you are aware of the charges that have been brought against you and that you fully understand them. If you have not hired an attorney, the judge will ask that you obtain one. If you have hired an attorney, you do not need to attend your arraignment. Your lawyer can attend on your behalf.
This will happen about 2 weeks after you have been placed under arrest. At this hearing, the judge will ask if you have hired a lawyer. The judge will ask the prosecuting attorney if he or she has obtained all of the evidence in the case, which can include videos, test results and arrest reports obtained from the police. If you have hired an attorney, you do not need to attend your status hearing. Your lawyer can attend on your behalf.
This will happen about one month after you have been placed under arrest. At this hearing, the judge will ask both parties how the case is progressing. The judge will ask if all evidence has been obtained and if your lawyer has been able to review it. If applicable, both sides can also inform the judge if there has been any discussion of the terms of a plea agreement. You do not need to attend your inquiry hearing. Your lawyer can attend on your behalf.
This will happen about two months after you have been placed under arrest. At this hearing, the judge will ask if the defendant has agreed to a plea deal with the prosecuting attorneys. The defendant must inform the court if an agreement has or has not been reached. If one has been reached, the terms of the deal will be set forth. If one has not been reached, the defendant will elect to pursue a bench trial (your case will remain in Municipal Court and the judge will determine whether or not you are found guilty), or a jury trial (your case will be transferred to the State Court of Fulton County and a jury will determine whether or not you are found guilty).
Bench or Jury Trial
If you have not made a plea agreement, this will happen within 6 months of being placed under arrest. The final decision in your case will be made during this proceeding.
If you have been scheduled for a DUI arraignment, please call me as soon as possible. I can cover this appearance on your behalf without any interruption to your work, school, or family responsibilities. If you have already been through arraignment, you can still contact me. In either instance, we will discuss the details of your charges and your arrest and I will walk you through what you can expect at each stage of the Atlanta Municipal Court Process. Not only will you gain a clear understanding of what to expect, but we will develop a personalized legal defense strategy to get you the best possible result.