Have your been arrested for DUI in Fulton County Georgia?
Filed Under: Fulton County DUI Lawyer – Fulton County DUI Attorney
Fulton County DUI Lawyers Bryan Howard and Christina Chamagne have been defending people throughout all of Fulton County for quite sometime. As a former DUI Prosecutor, his experience is the difference. Our office has helped many residents of Fulton County Georgia with complicated DUI cases throughout all of Fulton County. Remember, you only have 10 days to protect your right to drive in Georgia. Be warned that the 10 day letter is the key to your entire Fulton County DUI Defense.
What is the 10 Day Warning?
If you have been arrested in Fulton County Georgia, you only have 10 days to protect your right to drive. Contact us now to file for your ALS Hearing. Without this hearing, your drivers license or privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended for up to one year. This does not have to happen. You can save your license and your freedom by contacting us today. Act now. Your case will not defend itself. It takes a DUI Attorney in Fulton County to help. Only a DUI Lawyer in Fulton County knows how to successfully navigate the Fulton County Court System. If you don’t have your lawyer send the letter, you are facing 12 months without a license. We offer a FREE Consultation!!!
If you have been arrested for DUI in Fulton County, you have a choice as to who you hire. Our office is exclusively devoted to DUI Defense in Georgia. Our Fulton County DUI Lawyers are here to help you. It is all we do.
Whether it is a serious DUI or related offense, our office will be able to help. Some arrests are made by the Georgia State Patrol or a police officer from one of the many municipalities within Fulton County. The procedures in each of the courts of Fulton County are different. It is important to hire professionals that know the law and procedures relevant to your case.
Fulton County Georgia is a County of Municipal Courts:
If you are arrested for DUI in Fulton County you are likely to be arrested one of the many municipalities. In Fulton County Georgia, your arrest will be in one one of the following cities:
What this means, in effect, is that your case will begin in the city court. This is always an advantage to the accused. There is a financial motivation for the municipal court to be fair to people accused of DUI. It also gives your Fulton County DUI Lawyer the ability to negotiate at the municipal court level. Most cases are resolved in municipal court. Although, it is always important to keep all options open. A DUI Trial in Fulton County State Court is always an option.
If you are unable to resolve the case in municipal court, then the case can be bound over to the State Court of Fulton County for a jury trial. As a result, Fulton County DUI Lawyers have two bites at the apple to resolve your Fulton County DUI case. Experienced Fulton County DUI Attorneys understand how to use the 2 court systems (Both Municipal and State Court) to your advantage.
DUI In Fulton County – Why Hire a Fulton County DUI Lawyer?
Being an aggressive litigator is the difference in any case. In these times, many attorneys have started to dabble in DUI Defense. In between their regular practice, these attorneys have started to take DUI cases throughout Fulton County. Be care as to who you hire. Fulton County DUI cases are handled differently than in other counties. In fact, each municipal court handles DUI cases in a unique way. If you come to court without a qualified Fulton County DUI Lawyer, you will most certainly waive potential DUI Defenses.
These defenses can include challenges to the stop, the roadblock, the probable cause to arrest, the field sobriety tests, the preliminary breath test (alcosensor), the implied consent warning, and the chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. Our Fulton County DUI Lawyers investigate ever case for these possible Fulton County DUI Defenses. No case should ever be settled without a full investigation of the case. We watch “Fulton County DUI Attorneys” plea people to DUI everyday where there are potential defenses that are never raised.
Each DUI arrest originating in Fulton County, GA is unique but many DUI cases follow a similar pattern of events over the course of the legal process. Defending a DUI charge requires several court appearances and court procedures can be a confusing maze of rules, statutes, and deadlines that can significantly affect the outcome of your case. One of the worst things you can do is walk into a courtroom for the first time completely unprepared with little or no knowledge of how to proceed. An attorney will provide you with information so that you know exactly what to expect at each stage of your case and give you confidence that your case is being handled properly.
If you were arrested for DUI in East Point, Chattahoochee Hills, Milton, Palmetto, Sandy Springs, or any other incorporated city within Fulton County, your case will begin in that city’s municipal court. Municipal courts have jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases, traffic offenses, and local ordinance violations.
There are many advantages to having your case heard in a municipal court as opposed to a State Court. Most importantly this gives you two chances to negotiate a fair and reasonable plea to resolve your case. Whether you were arrested in Atlanta or by the Fairburn, Hapeville, Mountain Park, Union City Police Department, or any other municipal police department within Fulton County, if your case begins in that city’s municipal court, you always have the right to transfer your case to the State Court of Fulton County for a jury trial.
You have a Constitutional right to a jury trial and the municipal court cannot deny your request to transfer your case to Fulton County State Court. This does not mean that you must proceed with a trial, instead your case will essentially start over and you will have a second opportunity to negotiate a plea with a new prosecutor and a new judge presiding over the case.
Many municipal courts within Fulton County have also created programs that give you an opportunity to complete certain requirements and if completed, have your charges dismissed. If the charge is dismissed, in some cases it is possible the charge can also be expunged (permanently removed) from your criminal record. No conviction will be recorded upon successful completion of these programs and you will be able to honestly state that you were never convicted of the charge on college and job applications.
Additionally, if no conviction is entered you may avoid many of the harsh penalties that are applied by other agencies upon conviction of certain offenses such as driver’s license suspensions and ineligibility to receive financial aid. If you fail to complete the requirements or are charged with committing a new offense before completing the program, you may become ineligible and you will face prosecution of the original charges along with any potential consequences.
Pretrial Diversion is a common program available in certain cases if you are a first time offender. Roswell and John’s Creek Municipal Courts, among many other city courts within Fulton County, have Pretrial Diversion Programs available for Minor in Possession of Alcohol, certain traffic offenses, and Shoplifting charges. This is a supervisory program with certain requirements that you must complete in a specified time period. If you complete the program, your charges will be dismissed and you will be eligible to have the charges expunged from your record. The most common requirements are the payment of a program fee, community service, random drug and alcohol screens, alcohol or drug awareness courses, or a Risk Reduction course.
A Conditional Discharge is another common alternative that permits a judge to dismiss a drug or alcohol-related charge upon completion of certain conditions. Sentencing as a Conditional Discharge is only available to use once and only to persons who have never previously been convicted of the underlying charge. The conditions typically consist of a term of probation, random drug and alcohol screens, payment of a fine, community service, and a Risk Reduction course (DUI school). Failure to complete the conditions as provided by the court, failing a drug or alcohol screen, or being convicted of a new offense may cause the court to revoke your conditional discharge status and proceed with the original charge.
Municipal courts have an incentive to retain jurisdiction and have you resolve your case resolved within the city. If the court imposes a fine as a part of your sentence, that money goes into the city treasury. If your case is transferred to the State Court of Fulton County and resolved there, any fine imposed will go into the county treasury. There is a strong incentive then, for cases to be resolved in the municipal court and a clever attorney will negotiate a plea with this in mind.
Even though most courts follow a similar sequence of court appearances in an attempt to resolve a case, many courts also have procedures that are distinctive and worth mentioning here. The particular officers, prosecutors and judges presiding over cases in the court can also have an impact on how your case is resolved and what agreements are likely to be reached and accepted.
While most courts try to resolve cases quickly and efficiently, the City of Atlanta Municipal Court has a strict rule requiring a case to be resolved or transferred to the Fulton County State Court within 60 days. This means you only have a short period to gather evidence, investigate and negotiate your case.
Your attorney will fight for your DUI to be reduced to a lesser charge and if the prosecutor can be convinced that certain defenses to the charge could be successful at trial, he may decide that the risk is too great and will be more willing to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense. In the Chattahoochee Hills Municipal Court and in College Park Municipal Court, the prosecutor will consult with the arresting officer in most cases before agreeing to reduce or dismiss a charge and before agreeing to a plea that varies from the court’s standard conditions. This makes it very important for your attorney to develop relationships with the officers in courts that have these policies and to speak with the officer prior to your court date.
If your DUI charge is reduced to a Reckless Driving offense in Alpharetta Municipal Court, you will likely serve time in jail. It is common for courts to impose similar sentences upon a guilty plea to DUI or Reckless Driving, but while you may serve 24 hours in jail for a first time DUI conviction, you will likely serve 72 hours in jail if the DUI charge is reduced to Reckless Driving in Alpharetta Municipal Court.
Municipal courts follow a similar sequence of events as other courts in proceeding with its cases. Your first court appearance will be your arraignment date. At arraignment you will be formally accused of the charges against you and expected to enter a plea to those charges. If you plead guilty, you will go before the judge to be sentenced and your case will be over. If you are fighting the charges, though, you can discuss your case with the prosecutor and attempt to reach an agreement to resolve your case.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may have to make a decision on how to proceed. You will have to decide whether to enter a plea or have a trial. Municipal courts only have jurisdiction to hold bench trials, which is a trial by judge. As discussed earlier, you have a right to a trial by jury and can choose to transfer your case to the State Court of Fulton County. Again, having your case transferred to the State Court does not require you to proceed with a jury trial, but allows you to have another opportunity to negotiate a resolution to your case.
It will take several months for your case to be accused in the State Court of Fulton County. Typically it takes between 6 and 12 months before you will receive your next court date. This can be advantageous because during this time evidence can be lost, witnesses can move or lose contact with the court, the arresting officer may be fired or transfer to a new agency out of state or otherwise become unable to testify against you. The amount of time it takes to transfer your case also has the potential to be harmful, though if your situation changes and you relocate so that it becomes burdensome and expensive to travel to Georgia for court appearances. New laws could also go into effect during that time period that could impact your case or increase the penalties upon conviction.
Not all cases begin in municipal courts. If you were arrested for DUI by a Georgia State Patrol officer, a Georgia Department of Public Safety officer, a Fulton County Sheriff’s deputy, or if you were arrested in an unincorporated part of Fulton County, your case may begin in the Fulton County Magistrate Court and, after a Probable Cause Hearing, your case will be transferred to the State Court of Fulton County.
The probable cause hearing is used to determine if there was enough evidence available to the officer to determine that you were under the influence of alcohol while operating a moving vehicle before placing you under arrest. A Fulton County DUI attorney will utilize this hearing to gain vital information about the officer, his or her training, and the stop and subsequent arrest that will be essential in defending your case. A DUI attorney in Fulton County knows how to best utilize this hearing to get information on the record, which can later be used at motion hearings and at trial.
Whether it is your first, second, or third DUI in Fulton County, the State must still prove that probable cause existed for your arrest. However your lawyer knows exactly what the State must be able to show to create probable cause for a DUI arrest. An odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes, two of the most common reasons an officer will state indicated to him that you were intoxicated, are not enough by themselves for arrest. If field sobriety tests were administered, a well-trained Fulton County DUI attorney will know exactly what questions to ask to determine if enough clues were present to place you under arrest.
This hearing has a lower burden of proof than required at trial and the State must only show that it is more likely than not that you were driving under the influence of alcohol. If a Magistrate Judge determines that probable cause did exist for the DUI arrest, the case will be sent to the Fulton County State Court for arraignment. Just as when a case is transferred to Fulton County State Court from a municipal court, this process can take several months before the case is formally accused and a new court date is set.
Your first court date in the State Court of Fulton County, whether the case originated in State Court or was transferred from a municipal court or Fulton County Magistrate Court, will be an arraignment date. A formal accusation will be entered for the charges the State will prosecute. You will be expected to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. If you plead guilty, you will waive your rights to a trial, to cross examine witnesses, and your right to be presumed innocent as well as your other Constitutional rights in a criminal proceeding and you will go before the judge for sentencing and your case will be resolved. The conditions of your sentence will be imposed and you will likely serve some period of time in jail or on probation beginning that day.
If you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will continue. If you intend to file motions in your case, they must be filed at or before your arraignment date or they will be considered out of time. This can have a significant impact on your case and you may lose the chance to have key evidence suppressed at a motion hearing so that the prosecutor cannot use that evidence against you at trial. The results of a motion hearing can also impact the prosecutor’s willingness to negotiate a favorable plea that may resolve your case prior to trial.
All cases that remain open will then be scheduled for a Calendar Call, which is used by the judge to schedule further motion hearings and trial dates. In a typical DUI case, you can have a bench trial heard only by a judge or a jury trial decided by six jurors. A bench trial may be a better option if a jury may not be able to fully comprehend the details of the evidence and the science behind your defense. The State has the burden of proof at trial and must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer and other witnesses and magnify the weaknesses in the State’s case to persuade the judge or jury to find you not guilty. Once the verdict is read, your case will be resolved.
We can help! If you or someone you know has been arrested in Fulton County Georgia on a DUI Charge, please contact the Howard Law Group ASAP so we can start working on your case asap.