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What Is the Court Process After an Arrest for DUI?

What Is the Court Process After an Arrest for DUI?

Being placed under arrest for any reason can be an intimidating experience, especially for an offense as serious as a driving under the influence (DUI). Understanding how the court process works for DUIs in Georgia can help make the experience a little less daunting.

The following is a brief overview of what you can expect after your arrest for DUI:

Charges filed

The very first step is the officer pulling you over, detaining you, and charging you with DUI. After you’ve been arrested, officers will take you to a local county sheriff’s department or police department. Once processing is complete, your case will move to a judicial officer, who will listen to the testimony of the officer and decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.

Bail set

If an arrest warrant is issued, the judicial officer will also decide whether you can be released on bail. If you have a bail listed for your case, it must be paid for you to be released. This serves as the court’s guarantee that you will show up to all required court appointments. If you do not have the money to post bail, you may need to borrow money or contact a bail bondsman for assistance. Otherwise, you must remain in a detention facility.

Court hearings

Upon your release on bail, you will receive an initial court date, at which you will establish the status of your legal representation. If you cannot pay for an attorney, you may qualify for a public defender. This hearing also sets the date of your trial.

Your next court appearance will be the trial itself. Your arresting officer may be present to testify. You and your attorney must also decide how to proceed with your case. You could plead guilty, or enter a plea bargain (an agreement to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for leniency). Plea bargains are not very common in Georgia because of the state’s tough drunk driving laws. You could also waive your initial hearing so you can review video evidence or request a preliminary hearing.

If your plan is to fight the DUI charges against you, your lawyer may use a preliminary hearing to question the officer who made the arrest. This can better inform you of the case the district attorney’s office has built against you.

Circuit court

Once the case has been moved to circuit court, you will be arraigned (brought before a judge to enter your plea). As soon as this process is complete, your attorney can begin the discovery process, allowing you to collect evidence to defend yourself against the charges in question. You will also receive scheduling orders for two additional discussion dates and a plea date. If you do not plead out or get your case dismissed, you will go to trial.

To learn more about the process of a DUI defense case in Georgia, contact a skilled attorney at the law office of James D. Michael, P.C.