Usually, No. Unlike in a civil case, all criminal cases are resolved in court. Even when the prosecutor dismisses a case, a judge must sign off on the dismissal. For the most part, criminal defendants must eventually appear in court; however, a Georgia DUI Attorney can make many of the appearances for his or her clients.
A Georgia DUI lawyer can attend the arraignment and most pretrial meetings with the prosecutor. Some judges will also allow a defendant to be excused from the calendar call. That being said, if the client is settling a case with a plea agreement or is taking the case to trial, the defendant must be present.
Why Does the Judge Want the Accused to Come to Court?
DUI is a serious criminal offense. Most judges feel the need to take part in the process by encouraging people to change their behavior. Encouragement can be through comments made from the bench or through punishment. Neither can be accomplished when the accused does not come to court.
Plea in Absentia:
In limited circumstances an attorney can enter a plea on behalf of his client. This is usually allowed when a person lives out of state and cannot attend court. Additionally, a plea in absentia is allowed in less serious cases such as with traffic tickets.
The client must complete a plea in absentia form and sign it before a notary. The form must inform the accused of his or her constitutional rights.
A judge is not required to accept a plea in absentia. As a result, it is important first to ascertain whether a particular court will allow an attorney to handle a case without the client appearing.
Also, most judges want a defendant to complete all of the conditions of their sentence before allowing a plea in absentia.
As a result, we have our clients complete their community service, DUI school, counseling and provide their fine payment to us before going to court.
In courts that require 24 hours in jail for a first offense DUI, a plea in absentia will not be allowed.
Moral of the Story:
For the most part, your Georgia DUI case cannot be resolved out of court. However, our office can help minimize the inconvenience of attending most of the court appearances before the final resolution of the case.