Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a MISDEMEANOR.
It is NOT just a traffic ticket.
Criminal cases generally are divided into 3 groups:
The jail term is 1 year or longer;
The jail term is up to 11 months, 29 days; and
These are generally not really criminal matters. They
usually carry only a fine, and are civil in nature.
However, certain traffic cases such as vehicular
homicide are felonies, and certain traffic cases such as
Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving on a revoked
or suspended license are misemeanors.
There are 3 types of Courts in Shelby County, Tennessee for Driving on a revoked or suspended license criminal cases.
This is a Court of a municipality such as Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville, or Millington. These Courts can conduct trials of traffic cases and misdemeanors.
The traffic cases involve only violations of city ordinances.
These Courts can only hold prliminary hearings of felonies.
A preliminary hearing is held to determine if enough
evidence exists to refer the case to the Grand Jury for
indictment and trial in Criminal Court. The preliminary
hearing also can lead to dismissal if no evidence is found.
General Sessions Court:
These Courts have the same authority as Municipal Courts. These Courts hear traffic cases from the County outside any municipality. These Courts try violations of state criminal laws the same as Municipal Courts, including preliminary hearings for felonies.
These Courts are the same as Circuit Courts in other counties. However, in Shelby County they try only criminal cases. These cases can be either misdemeanors or felonies which are violations of state law.
A case is brought to the Criminal Court as a result of an indictment by the Grand Jury. The indictment can follow a Municipal Court or General Sessions Court appearance, or it can first be brought by the Grand Jury. This is the Court where you obtain a jury trial for a criminal or driving with a revoked or suspended license charge.
Fees are generally less for Municipal Courts and General Sessions Court. This is because trials and appearances are much shorter than in the other Courts. The savings in time is passed on to the client in the form of lower fees.
Time spent on appearances in Criminal Court is longer and trial time is much longer than Municipal or General Sessions Courts. Thus the fees charged are far more substantial. It is rare for a trial to last less than 2 days in Criminal Court. The allotment of such a large amount of time must be compensated.
Lawyers must spend a great deal of time preparing a case for trial. They may need to hire an investigator, or interview witnesses with a Court Reporter, the likes of whom cost considerable sums of money. Therefore, fees may appear high, but in reality are not. Fees cover the overhead of the lawyer as well as provide personal income to the lawyer.
A. Guilty Pleas
The Attorney will examine all of the evidence and research all of the applicable law. He will then advise he client of the alternatives available, including his evaluation of the case. The client then has to decide whether to chance going to rrial and receiving a harsher result, or settling the case by pleading guilty and receiving a lighter sentence.
The guilty plea can involve a fine, a jail sentence, probation, restitution, or any combination of these. It can also be diversion, which is a probation period which, if completed without incident, results in a dismissal of the case and expungement (clearing) of the client's record.
Fines and Court costs can be paid in installment payments to the Court Clerk. These must be arranged with the clerk after a guilty plea or after a guilty verdict.
Sometimes a trial is the best course of action. The client then has the right to have a jury of his peers hear the evidence, and then decide whether or not the client is guilty, and what the sentence will be.
C. Lack of Guarantees
There are no guarantees. There are too many "people" variables. All a lawyer can do is prepare the best that he can, and use all of his experience and ability to try the case in a manner which is most favorable to the Client.
Judges are people. Some have conservative leanings and some have liberal leanings. Some are tough, some are thoughtful. It is the luck of the draw, and is a factor to be considered when debating whether to go to trial or plead guilty.
V. Constitutional Rights
Every United States citizen has certain rights granted under the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, our courts have been enforcing these rights less and less since the 1970's. Motions to suppress evidence are rarely granted any more.
The courts are, however, enforcing rights to jury trials and right to a speedy trial.
Generally, most uninformed people are against enforcing these rights because they feel that it benefits "criminals." However, they usually take a different position when the defendant is them or their relatives. Then they are insistant on having their constitutional rights protected and honored.
Call 901-757-5557 for a free appointment to discuss your situation.
291 Germantown Bend Cove,
Cordova (Memphis), TN 38018