Question: I caught a DUI charge in Atlanta and I want a jury trial. I have to go to the Atlanta Municipal Court on Garnett Street. But I might want a jury trial, so I'd like to know how to get a jury trial for my DUI before I go to court.
I was stopped by the Atlanta Police Department after a night out in Buckhead. I went through a red light and the cop pulled me over. He asked me some questions and I did say that I was drinking vodka earlier in the night, but not for about 2 hours. I took all his drunk tests and I think we had a good relationship.
But then he arrested me and took me to jail where I took the breath test and I scored a .172. It's fairly high but I think I might like a jury trial. But I'm not sure. What do I need to do to get a jury trial at the Atlanta Municipal Court?
C.L. in Atlanta, Georgia
Answer: The Atlanta Municipal Court does not have jury trials. In the state of Georgia, municipal courts are not legally empowered to hold jury trials. Jury trials are only available in Superior and State Courts.
If you want a jury trial, you will have to bind-over the case to the Fulton County State Court. Municipal Court bind-over cases are sent directly to the state prosecutor, the Fulton County Solicitor General, for review.
Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 17-3-1, the Solicitor General has two years from the date of the incident to file a formal accusation of a misdemeanor traffic charge (and that includes most DUI cases). Only with the filing of charges will a formal case be initiated against you in Fulton County State Court.
Due to the heavy caseload in the Fulton County State Court, it may take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before your case is formally accused. And sometimes, the case is accused too late.
We know how the system works. We've worked as a Magistrate Judge, Assistant Attorney General and Senior Assistant County Attorney.
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