At Zeliff | Watson, we have over 20 combined years of DUI defense under our belt. Both of our founding partners, Peter Zeliff and Evan Watson, worked for one of the largest DUI defense firms in the Southeast before founding the firm. While both attorneys are well versed in criminal defense, both place an emphasis- and have a true passion for- defending DUI cases.
In a previous article written by Partner Evan Watson, a comprehensive overview of defending an Alpharetta DUI is described, but this article focuses in on why your case may not be resolved in Alpharetta. Of course, we counsel our clients every step of the way, weighing options and potential outcomes before making any final decisions.
So, specifically, what's the difference between defending a DUI case in Alpharetta's municipal court and the Fulton County court system?
Alpharetta, as a municipal court, has the luxury of getting the first opportunity to dispose of DUI cases. Anytime an Alpharetta Police officer or State Patrol officer makes a DUI arrest in Alpharetta, the case will go to their municipal court first. A first court date is usually given within 45-60 days of arrest.
As a municipal court, Alpharetta does not have the power to conduct jury trials, that is, a trial by 6 of your peers in the city. Instead, if you want a jury trial, you must elect to transfer your case to Fulton County. Additionally, Alpharetta does not currently conduct trials before a judge on DUI cases. Again, if you want a trial in front of a judge, you must also transfer your case to Fulton County's court system.
A transfer to Fulton County means a long wait. Judges will say 12-18 months, but in reality, it can be 23-24 months. If Fulton does not catch the case within a 2 year period from your date of arrest, the case will usually be dismissed, or simply not prosecuted. However, Fulton has made a craft of catching cases and beginning the prosecution process 23 months after arrest. Our firm has had cases started by Fulton with a week or less on their 2 year mark!
So, why not just work every case out in Alpharetta? It depends. Like most things in life, resolving your case in Alpharetta is a negotiation. Our firm prides itself on handling a DUI from Day 1 through trial, unless a highly favorable outcome can be reached before trial. Therefore, depending on your circumstances, your best outcome may not be had in Alpharetta. Of course, many cases are resolved there, but it's not an assumption we make, seemingly unlike many attorneys who will drill a plea into your head from Day 1. (Of course, pleading a case in Alpharetta is quicker for everyone, so it's easy to see why a lot of attorneys jump at the opportunity...)
There are multiple aspects to look at before making a final decision on your DUI in Alpharetta. License issues, career moves, and future plans all play a major role in the decisions we will make about your case. And, while we cannot guarantee a final outcome, we can guarantee that we will be beside you, and give you our honest advice and counsel on defending your DUI case.
If you have been charged with DUI in Alpharetta and have an upcoming court date, call us today to discuss your next steps and how Zeliff | Watson will defend you. We are available on an individual and team basis to defend your case. We can be reached 24/7 at (770) 676-1340.