If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, there are several hearings that must happen in Municipal Court. If you have hired a lawyer, you do not need to attend all of these hearings. There are many which the lawyer will be able to attend on your behalf. The timeline goes like this:
Arrest This is the date of which you were arrested for driving under the influence. The day this happened will determine the timeline for the following court hearings.
Arraignment (24-48 hours after arrest) When a person is arrested over a weekend (including Thursday night), they will have an arraignment on Monday morning, in courtroom 5A in front of Judge Christopher Ward. If you have been arrested on a weekday, your arraignment will be scheduled for the next morning. If you have obtained an attorney for your DUI charges, you do not need to attend your arraignment. Your attorney mat attend on your behalf and take care of everything at this first appearance. This allows you not to have to be concerned about missing any school, work, or family responsibilities on such short notice. If you do not have an attorney at this time, the judge will ask that you obtain an attorney. The purpose of the arraignment is for the judge to make sure you are aware of the charges filed against you and that you understand the nature of these charges. At arraignment, the court will schedule a status hearing.
Status Hearing (about 2 weeks after arrest) If you did not hire an attorney at the time of your arraignment, at this hearing, the judge will ask whether you have hired an attorney. If you have obtained an attorney, you do not need to attend your status hearing. Your attorney may attend on your behalf and take care of everything at the status hearing. During this hearing, the judge will determine if the prosecuting attorney has obtained all of the relevant evidence (such as videos, test results, and incident reports) for the arresting agency. A date will be set for an inquiry hearing.
Inquiry Hearing (about 30 days after arrest ) At an inquiry hearing, the judge will inquire as to how the case is moving along - this includes making sure that all evidence has been obtained and that your lawyer has been given the chance to review everything. You do not need to attend your inquiry hearing. Your attorney may attend on your behalf and take care of everything at the inquiry hearing. Next, a final plea date will be set.
Final Plea (60 days after arrest) At the final plea hearing, a defendant must announce whether he or she will be entering a plea to the charges. You are required to attend the final plea hearing. If a plea deal has been worked out with the prosecuting attorneys, the parties will state the terms of the plea deal. If the parties were not able to work out a plea agreement, you have the right to transfer your case to the State Court of Fulton County (for a jury trial), or waive your right to a jury trial and request a bench trial (where the judge determines guilt) in Municipal Court.
Additional Hearings (6 months after arrest) If you were not able to work out a plea agreement, whatever hearing you and your attorney have requested should be scheduled, and the ultimate resolution of your case should occur within 6 months of your arrest.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta and are facing your arraignment or anywhere else in this process, please give Lawson and Berry a call. We can work together to minimize the disruption this court process has on your personal life and develop the a strategy for the best possible resolution of your case.