Statewide / Nationwide
AFTER YOU'VE BEEN ARRESTED FOR DUI IN GEORGIA
You have been arrested and have posted bond. You either posted cash for the full amount of the bond, posted a property bond, or paid a commercial bondsman. If you posted a cash bond, the full amount will be returned to the person who posted the bond upon final resolution of your case.
The person who posted the cash bond for your Georgia DUI charge is the only one entitled to the return of the bond. If the cash bond is in someone else's name, and if you want the cash bond returned to you, let us know and we will prepare an assignment of bond form allowing the bond to be returned to you.
If you posted a property bond, the property will act as security until your case is over. The property will then be released as security.
If your bond was paid through a commercial bondsman, you paid him a percentage of the amount of the bond. You can kiss that money good-bye. However, if you paid any collateral above the percentage, that amount will be returned to you once your case is finally over.
For more technical information on bonds, visit GeorgiaDefenders.com.
AFTER YOU'VE POSTED BOND COMES THE ARRAIGNMENT
Upon release from jail, you were probably given a court date (your arraignment date). You could have been given a separate form with that information. If you were given a traffic citation, that information could appear at the bottom of your ticket.
At your DUI arraignment, you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, in most cases you will be sentenced on the spot. If you plead not guilty, you will receive notice of your trial date.
Some courts will allow us to waive the arraignment for your DUI case and plead not guilty without your having to appear in court. Other courts require your presence at your arraignment. You are required to obey the rules of the court in which you must appear.
If you plead not guilty at your arraignment (or if we waive arraignment and plead not guilty for you) we will file certain motions on your behalf. These motions are very important, very specific to your DUI case, and preserve certain valuable rights. For example, in order to receive scientific reports in the possession of the prosecutor, a motion must be filed. We need to know what scientific reports the prosecutor has in order to 1) attempt to suppress the evidence, or 2) hire an expert witness to testify as to the validity of the scientific evidence in the event it cannot be excluded from evidence at trial.
A hearing on motions filed at arraignment is held before trial. We must file motions to do the following:
- If we are going to attempt to have your charges thrown out;
- Determine if the officer had a "reasonable suspicion" to stop you;
- Determine if the officer had "probable cause" to arrest you;
- Suppress any statement you made in custody because you were not read your "Miranda" rights;
- Suppress any improperly obtained sample of your blood, breath or urine; and
- Suppress any other illegally obtained tangible evidence.
A pretrial hearing will be scheduled to determine these issues. At the hearing, the judge will decide what evidence is admissible and what is not. The judge will also determine if your case will be thrown out because the officer either had no reasonable suspicion to stop you or no probable cause to arrest you.
This paragraph is very important. It is not always possible to get a clean win at a motion hearing. However, a successful trial (where you win) oftentimes is set up by a seemingly unsuccessful motion hearing.
Other types of pretrial matters include such things as administrative license suspension hearings and pretrial negotiations with the prosecutor.
Two types of trial are possible. At a jury trial for a misdemeanor, a six-person jury will hear a misdemeanor case. For a felony, a twelve-person jury will hear the case. At a bench trial, your case will be heard only by the judge. Various factors will determine which type of trial your attorney will request. These factors include the technical issues involved, the fairness of the judge, and how fast you want your case finalized.
For your trial, you may have witnesses who can give favorable testimony on your behalf. Make sure you provide their current addresses and phone numbers so we can subpoena them on your behalf.
You might need to subpoena an expert witness to deal with certain evidence, which the trial judge did not exclude from evidence at trial. Expert witnesses charge fees over and above any legal fees you have paid. You must approve any expert and you must pay the expert witness in advance of trial.
You will also have to pay the court reporter to "take down" your case in a misdemeanor trial. At a felony trial, you do not have to pay for the "take down". However, if a transcript of the trial is needed, you will have to pay the court reporter for the transcript. Transcripts can be expensive.
Just because your case appears to be set for a date certain does not mean that it will be heard on that date. Oftentimes, several cases other than yours will be scheduled at the same time. Obviously, some of the cases will not be heard. Many times the prosecutor will ask for a continuance for a variety of reasons. Sometimes your attorney will have scheduling conflicts. In case of such a conflict, your attorney will proceed with the oldest case.
If your case is not reached on the date it is called, you could be placed on "call". This means you can go home or to work until your case is called in for trial. This keeps you from having to sit around court until you are reached.
It is quite possible that your case will not be reached during the week or weeks that your case is scheduled for trial. In that event, your case will be scheduled for the next available trial calendar. Unfortunately, the courts do not care if you have to miss an important business meeting, or if you have to reschedule your vacation. The trial judge will want you available to try your case when it is called for trial.
You should always be careful what you say at all times. If you are having a jury trial, jurors are everywhere. A slip of the tongue can seriously jeopardize your chances at trial. You should dress in your best attire. If you have a suit, wear a suit. If you have a blazer, wear the blazer and slacks. If you have neither, at least wear a clean white shirt, conservative tie, and dress slacks. It wouldn't hurt to shine your shoes.
Women should not wear too much make-up or jewelry. Dress conservatively (no short skirts or revealing blouses). Make sure you do not smell of alcohol. If you are taking prescription medication, bring your prescription bottle with you.
During jury selection and trial, you should appear interested in your case. Take notes. Do not speak to your attorney during testimony. If you have something important to tell your attorney, write it down on a piece of paper and show it to your lawyer. Be respectful to the judge and even the prosecuting attorney. And remember jurors are everywhere and are always observing you.
If you are acquitted at trial, you can bid the court a fond farewell and leave (assuming you were not previously being held in jail in which case you will have to go back to the jail and process out).
On the other hand, if you are convicted, the judge could conduct a sentencing hearing. At this hearing, the prosecutor will attempt to introduce evidence in aggravation of your punishment. Your attorney will introduce evidence in mitigation of your punishment. Either way, the judge has the final say-so and may sentence you to the maximum allowed by law. For most misdemeanors, this could be one year in jail, or a $1000.00 fine or both.
If you are convicted of a crime leading to a license suspension (DUI for example) your license will be suspended at the time of your conviction. Have someone drive you to court because you might not be able to drive home.
You have the absolute right to appeal any criminal conviction within thirty days. You will have to pay for your trial transcript for your appeal.
Furthermore, if you are sentenced to a jail term, you might or might not be entitled to an appeal bond, which would allow you to remain free during the appeal process. Any appeal bond will have to be approved by the Clerk of the Court. Many clerks require cash bonds only. Some allow you to use a commercial bondsman. An appeal bond postpones your punishment. However, it will not postpone any driver's license suspension.