THE CURRENT PROCESS FOR HANDLING DUI CHARGES IN THE CITY OF ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT
At the beginning of 2013, there was a dramatic change in the way that DUI charges are processed in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. Basically, the changes made the process more predictable and formalized. Predictability is certainly a trait that most people charged with a DUI really want. That being said, when Courts are more systematic in the process by which any criminal charges are processed, there tends to be less “slippage” – less charges tend to be thrown by the wayside, as a general rule.
Basically, the Atlanta Municipal Court has adopted the recommendation of the DUI Court Committee and instituted a goal for the disposition of ever case within 6 months from the date of arrest. The 1st appearance in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court is generally within 48-72 hours after the date of arrest. After the 1st court appearance in the Atlanta Municipal Court, each case is placed on an “inquiry” court date. After the “inquiry” date, the case is placed on a final plea date – which is typically 60 days after the date of arrest.
There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation regarding what occurs on the “final plea date” and whether defendants are being forced to plea or bind their cases over prior to the completion of discovery. This is emphatically not the case in the Atlanta Municipal Court. The Court has been very flexible in permitting resets of cases beyond the “final plea date” when discovery has not been completed.
WHAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO AT YOUR 1ST APPEARANCE ON YOUR DUI CASE IN ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT
The first court date in Atlanta on your DUI charge is very simple and straightforward. Unlike many courts, the arraignment date is an actual arraignment. You will have the option of having the prosecutor read the actual charges pending against you out loud to you. (Yes, that is a bit unusual, but I digress.) The Judge will ask you if you understand the charges, and depending upon how you answer, that will be it. Your case will be reset for an “inquiry” date and you'll be excused. The Court does not ask you how you are pleading at that time.
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