There are a few things that you absolutely must know about your Atlanta DUI charge, and there are some really common mistakes that lawyers handling Atlanta DUI charges commonly make. One of the decisions that defendants (and lawyers) really do not understand is when and under what circumstances cases should be bound over (transferred) to the Fulton County State Court. Here, we will address some of those concerns.
- Treat the Atlanta Municipal Court as an opportunity. It should be viewed as an opportunity to successfully resolve the DUI charge or an opportunity to set up procedural defenses in Fulton County State Court. There was a time when lawyers were binding cases over from the Atlanta Municipal Court without even conducting any review of the evidence or knowing anything about the case. This should never occur. Every person charged with a DUI that is pending in the Atlanta Municipal Court has the right to transfer the case out of the Atlanta Municipal Court to the Fulton County State Court, but this decision has to be made with a full consideration of the potential risks of such a decision.
- Deals do not always get better in the Fulton County State Court. Many lawyers mistakenly believe that the resolution of a case will always be better in Fulton County State Court. That could be a huge mistake. Yes, some offers on 1st lifetime DUI charges and reckless driving offers will be better, but there is always some risk in rejecting a reckless driving reduction with the hope that the offer will improve in Fulton County State Court. I have had cases where a client rejected a reckless driving offer in Atlanta Municipal Court, and the prosecutor's office in Fulton County State Court decided not to offer a reckless driving reduction of the DUI. Those cases ultimately ended in a jury trial.
- Make the State bind the case over to Fulton County State Court and use that decision to your advantage. Frequently, I will ask for a bench trial in Atlanta when I have a case that will be difficult for the City to put together or a case a with difficult legal hurdles for the state. Often times, the City will ask that the case be bound over to the Fulton County State Court prior to trial. It is imperative that your lawyer make a record of the prejudice that you and your defense will suffer if a trial in your case is delayed. Set the case up for a motion to dismiss on constitutional speedy grounds when the Fulton County Solicitor's office files on an accusation on the DUI charge approximately 14 – 18 months later. Obviously, this strategy relies upon a couple of assumptions and your lawyer must understand what types of DUI cases the City prosecutors will seek to bind over to the State Court.
- Unless the case is truly exceptional (exceptionally high BAC of .20 or greater, a really bad accident, other aggravating non-DUI history, extremely bad behavior on behalf of the defendant, etc.), a 1st lifetime DUI charge should generally not be resolved with a guilty plea to DUI involving any jail time in Atlanta Municipal Court.
- Unless the case is truly exceptional (exceptionally high BAC of .20 or greater, a really bad accident, other aggravating non-DUI history, extremely bad behavior on behalf of the defendant, etc.), a guilty plea to DUI is generally not advisable if it involves anything in excess of statutory mandated penalties in Atlanta Municipal Court.
- If you are facing a 2nd or more charge of DUI in the Atlanta Municipal Court, the City prosecutor will likely ask that your case be transferred to the Fulton County State Court. The City solicitor's office has jurisdiction to prosecute 2nd or even 3rd DUI charges within 10 years but for some reason, they tend bind these cases over to the Fulton County State Court for prosecution.
- If your case is transferred from the Atlanta Municipal Court to the Fulton County State Court and you anticipate that your case could go to trial, begin working to complete a substance abuse evaluation, Risk Reduction program, and community service if you have not done so already.
- There will be a protracted delay in the initiation of a prosecution in the Fulton County State Court. You cannot rush that process. Plan for it as your DUI is bound over from Atlanta Municipal Court.
If you face a DUI charge in Atlanta, contact The Sessions Law Firm at (470) 225-7710 for more information.
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Atlanta, Georgia 30309
Phone: (470) 225-7710