WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE TO APPEAR WITHOUT A LAWYER FOR MY 1ST APPEARANCE ON A DUI IN ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT?
It is not at all uncommon for people to appear at their 1st appearance on a DUI in Atlanta Municipal Court without an attorney. Do not be discouraged, overwhelmed, or afraid if you are in this situation. Understanding a few basic rules about the process followed in that court can make your appearance go very smoothly. Below are some of the basic rules that you must know when you appear in the Atlanta Municipal Court.
WHY IS THE 1ST COURT DATE ON YOUR ATLANTA DUI SO SOON AFTER YOUR ARREST?
The Atlanta Municipal Court is really focused on efficiently resolving cases. Most people recognize that part of efficiently resolving cases is getting people to court, informing them of the process, and getting the process going. So, the Court generally gets people arrested for DUI to court the next business day. That is extremely quick in comparison to many other courts that handle DUIs. This short timeline, however, means that many people cannot obtain counsel prior to their 1st appearance. Do not worry about that. I can assure you that nothing substantive is going to happen at that appearance, unless you want to enter a guilty plea at the 1st appearance. Generally, you should not enter a guilty plea at the 1st appearance.
THE JUDGE IS GOING TO ASK YOU IF YOU WAIVE FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT. THIS IS NOT A TRICK.
Many people are really confused by the question from the Judge about whether they waive formal arraignment upon their charges. Do not over think this question. It is not a trick question. Whether you waive formal arraignment or not, that decision is not going to have any real impact upon your rights and the charges whatsoever. Most lawyers that regularly appear in the Atlanta Municipal Court for DUI charges recognize that little information, if any at all, is gained by virtue of the formal arraignment process in that court, and no strategic advantage is gained by being formally arraigned upon the charges. When you are asked if you waive formal arraignment, I would generally recommend that you respond say “yes, Your Honor” and move the process along.
IS THERE A WAY THAT I CAN BE EXCUSED FROM APPEARING FOR MY 1ST APPEARANCE IN MY DUI CASE IN ATLANTA?
Yes, you may be excused from your 1st appearance in a DUI case if you have retained a lawyer and that lawyer has filed an entry of appearance.
MUST I APPEAR AT 8:00 A.M. ON MY CASE?
If you do not have a lawyer, you must arrive at the scheduled time for the 1st appearance on your Atlanta DUI case. Some courts do not start on the scheduled court time, but this is not one of them. Appear at 8:00 a.m.
WHAT IS THE “INQUIRY” COURT DATE THAT THE COURT REFERENCED AT MY 1ST APPEARANCE FOR MY DUI CASE?
The inquiry court date scheduled by the Atlanta DUI court at your 1st appearance is a status hearing. At it, the Court is really just looking to see if the City prosecutor has provided discovery to you and also conveyed an offer to the defendant to resolve the case.