Cherokee County DUI Lawyer - Cherokee County DUI Attorney
DUI, Driving Under the Influence, also known as Driving While Intoxicated, or Driving While Impaired is an offense common to all 50 states. The elements of the crime are the same, involving driving or operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over a particular legal limit. A DUI in Georgia can also involve operating a boat, riding a bicycle or even walking! You can also be charged with a DUI for being under the influence of drugs, either illegal or prescription.
Being arrested for a DUI or any criminal case can be a frightening and confusing experience. Because of the nature of a DUI, many times the person arrested has never been involved in the criminal justice system, nor had any contact with law enforcement. It is an offense that cuts across all different socio-economic borders, affecting thousands of Georgia residents every year.
Experienced DUI Defense:
Having an experienced DUI Attorney in Cherokee County Georgia is the way to make it through the disruption that a DUI arrest will cause in your life. Having an experienced DUI Lawyer in Cherokee County Georgia that was initially trained as a prosecutor is an even better way. Experience as a prosecutor gives Richard Lawson an insight into your Cherokee County Georgia DUI case that most other DUI attorneys don't have.
Knowledge of the court system and the various solicitors and District Attorney's offices will give him an advantage in his representation of you on your DUI in Cherokee County Georgia.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Cherokee County Georgia you need serious legal help. The Law Office of Richard Lawson has been defending people charged with DUI for over 25 years. Mr. Lawson is a former DUI Prosecutor in Georgia who has dedicated his law practice to defending people charged with DUI in Cherokee County and throughout Georgia. As a former DUI Prosecutor, he knows both sides of the case. He is the most reviewed DUI Lawyer in Georgia and his reviews can be found on AVVO.
In Every DUI Case There Are Two Cases:
LICENSE SUSPENSION - YOUR 30-DAY LETTER
The State of Georgia issued your driver's license with the understanding that you would abide by certain rules and regulations. Your ability to drive in Georgia and possession of your driver's license is a privilege, not a right. Violation of DUI laws in Georgia carries with it the possibility that the State will suspend your driving privileges for a period of time. A license suspension for a DUI will be automatic if you do not request a hearing.
The officer who cited you for DUI actually began two cases against you; the court case AND an Administrative License Suspension case or ALS case. The court case starts with the date given to you on your citation. The ALS case begins immediately upon the filing of your citation and gives you only thirty (30) days to file a request for a hearing or for an ignition interlock device to be installed before your license is automatically suspended!
Richard Lawson and his team will file a request for hearing in order to STOP THE IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION OF YOUR LICENSE.
The State of Georgia requires a One Hundred and Fifty Dollar($150) filing fee to be paid in order to set an ASL hearing.
Contact a Cherokee County GA DUI Defense Attorney now!
If you do not get your request for hearing in before the 30-day deadline, your license will be automatically suspended. If you refused to take the blood, breath or urine test requested by the officer during his/her investigation, your license will be suspended for ONE YEAR, with no limited permit or restricted license allowed. In other cases where you took a breath, blood or urine test, you may suffer a 30-day suspension. That suspension could result in a restricted license or a limited permit for part of your suspension, which could allow you to drive to and from work or school.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Richard Lawson have years of experience in conducting and winning Administrative License Suspension Hearings. They will appear on your behalf, sometimes without you present so you don't have to take valuable time off from work or school, or arrange for child care to attend the hearing.
The officer in your case, however, will have to attend. He or she will have to testify, just as if he were at trial. There are always potential defenses to a license suspension. As each case is different, every license suspension should be thoroughly researched in order to determine whether any of the defenses listed below apply. Those potential defenses include but are not limited to:
- Was the implied consent read correctly (substantially correct is the standard)?
- Was the implied consent warning read timely (as close to the time of arrest as possible)?
- Did the arresting officer or other officers provide information to the arrested driver contrary to the advice and meaning of the implied consent warning?
- Did the officer read the appropriate warning for the person suspected of DUI (such as the commercial warning for CDL drivers or the under 21 warning for those who are under the age of 21)?
- Did the arresting officer fail to choose an actual test (i.e. designate a test such as breath)?
- Did you rescind your refusal and agree to a test and the officer said it was too late to take the test?
- Did you request an independent test and were not accommodated? If there was a roadblock, was the roadblock handled in a constitutional manner?
- Was the arrested driver in custody for purposed of Miranda warnings?
The other advantage of an ALS Hearing is that the officer's testimony will be 'on the record,' which means that we will get a copy of what he says which we can use to compare to his testimony at later hearings. If his story changes, we can use that to show that he is not a credible witness and that perhaps there were errors in his investigation that could lead a judge or jury to believe that you are not guilty.
Simultaneous to filing the request for an ALS Hearing, the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson will also appear on your behalf for the court case in Cherokee County, defending your rights and making sure the State does not take advantage of you. Your best defense begins here!
The Court Process in Cherokee County, Georgia
The Court process in Georgia is a fragmented and confusing system. Which court you report to depends on what county you are cited in and where in the county you actually get arrested. In Cherokee County, Georgia if you are arrested in one of the municipalities, Canton, Holly Springs, Ball Ground, Nelson or Woodstock, your case will be cited into one of the local municipal courts. Your case will proceed in Municipal court unless you decide to set it for a jury trial, in which case it will be bound over to Cherokee County State Court.
Driving under the influence charges in Cherokee County, Georgia, may be heard in one of the county's five municipal courts, State Court, or Superior Court. Misdemeanor DUI cases will be heard in State or municipal court. If you are charged with a felony, your case will go to the Cherokee County Superior Court. If you are cited outside of the boundaries of one of the above listed cities, you will be cited directly into State court where it will remain for both pretrial processing and trial. All jury trials are heard in either State or Superior Court. There are no jury trials in any municipal court in Georgia.
Municipal Courts have jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases, traffic offenses, and local ordinance violations that occurred within the corporate limits of the municipality. The cities of Canton, Holly Springs, Ball Ground, Nelson, and Woodstock all have municipal courts within Cherokee County. All misdemeanor DUI cases that occur within the city of limits of any municipality in Cherokee County will be heard in municipal court. However, you always have the option to send the case to the State Court of Cherokee County for a jury trial. There are no Jury trials in any municipal court in the State of Georgia.
Arrests made in Cherokee County by a Georgia Department of Public Safety officer or a Cherokee County Sheriff's Deputy are generally referred to the State Court of Cherokee County which hears all misdemeanor and traffic cases for the county. The Georgia Department of Public Safety is the agency in charge of the Georgia State Patrol. The Solicitor General prosecutes all Misdemeanor DUI Cases, heard in State Court. Always hire a Cherokee County DUI Lawyer to help you with your case.
Felony charges are tried in the Superior Court of Cherokee County. DUI is most commonly a misdemeanor offense in Georgia, but a fourth DUI within ten years (all past convictions occurring since 2008), DUI Serious Injury By Vehicle, Habitual Violator, and DUI Vehicular Homicide and Feticide are all felony offenses. All felony DUI cases, even those that occur within a municipality, will be heard in Superior Court. All Felony cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office.
If your case originates in a city municipal court, you have the option to transfer your case to the State Court of Cherokee County for a jury trial. Because you have a Constitutional right to have a trial by jury, and municipal courts do not have jurisdiction to impanel juries, the municipal court judge cannot deny this request. This can be a strategic move if you are unable to negotiate an acceptable resolution to your case in the municipal court. The ability to demand a jury trial can be used as leverage to force a better outcome in municipal court.
However, there are many benefits to a case originating in a municipal court as opposed to the State Court. Prosecutors in a municipal court may have more latitude to negotiate a plea that would not likely be offered by a solicitor in the State Court. Additionally, many municipal courts in Cherokee County have created programs to benefit first time offenders that result in no conviction and keep the person's criminal record clean. The City of Holly Springs has a Pretrial Diversion program for certain types of offenses. The program requires the payment of a fee, a period of probation with random alcohol and drug screening, and community service. If the charge is misdemeanor possession of marijuana a clinical evaluation may be required as well to determine if there is substance abuse or dependency that should be treated. After all conditions of the program are successfully completed, the judge may allow for the arrest to be restricted from the person's criminal record.
Your first court date will be an arraignment date. DUI charges referred to the State Court of Cherokee County are arraigned in the DUI Treatment Court on Thursdays. DUI Court is a supervised treatment program run by one of the Cherokee County State Court Judges. It is designed as an alternative to punishment, with the goal of rehabilitating people charged with a second or more DUI. Your Cherokee County DUI Attorney will help you decide the DUI Court Program is a good idea for you and your individual situation.
The DUI Treatment Court program was developed for those who have been convicted multiple times for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are incentives for agreeing to participate in the DUI Court program. Those participants who enter the DUI Treatment Court may receive less jail time to enable the treatment process to start earlier, may receive less time on house arrest due to intensive monitoring while in the program, may receive credit for community service hours through participation in counseling sessions, and will receive a high level of support in dealing with their substance abuse problem.
The target group for the program includes repeat DUI offenders with two or more convictions in the past 5 years or offenders with three or more lifetime DUI convictions who live in Cherokee County. Offenders who have violent felony convictions will be presumed to be ineligible. Participants are required to attend two weekly group counseling sessions, individual sessions, bi-monthly status conferences with the judge and a required number of AA/NA meetings. There is an initial fee of $150.00 for orientation and a $90.00 weekly participation fee.
This is a 12 to 24 month long program divided into five phases. Participants are promoted based on their individual treatment plans. Phase I is orientation and an initial clinical assessment to determine the level of treatment that is recommended. Phase II is a minimum of 4 weeks and includes beginning treatment. Participants are required to attend three group sessions per week and one individual session per week. Participants are also required to attend 90 self help meetings in 90 days. Phase III is active treatment and early recovery and lasts a minimum of 24 weeks. Participants are required to attend two group sessions per week and one individual session per week. After they have attended 90 self help meetings in 90 days, participants are required to attend three meetings per week. Phase IV is relapse prevention and mentoring and lasts a minimum of 21 weeks. Participants are required to attend one group session per week and one individual session per week. Two self-help meetings per week are required. Phase V focuses on continuum of care and lasts a minimum of 8 weeks. A counselor will determine an individualized plan for the participant during this final phase of the program.
Because participation in the program is a condition of probation, the judge can impose sanctions if there are any infractions such as a failed drug or alcohol screen or missed court appearances or counseling sessions. Penalties range from a verbal or written reprimand by the Court, additional community service, probation violation petition and warrant, jail time and even expulsion from the DUI Court Program. As an example, if a participant in Phase III fails an alcohol or drug screen they will be asked to restart Phase III in addition to other sanctions imposed by the judge. If a participant in Phase IV or V fails an alcohol or drug screen they will be asked to return to Phase III and will not be promoted to Phase IV until they have achieved a minimum of 60 days sober.
DUI Court Sanctions can be severe. The purpose of the program is to treat alcohol dependency. The benefit to the participant is less jail-time. However, if a person violates the rules of the program, they may be given sanctions that are more severe than had they just accepted punishment for the DUI at the time they entered their guilty plea. So, it's important to only enter into the program if you are confident that you will be successful. Otherwise, you may serve more punishment over the 12-24 months in the program than had you just been punished up front.
Defendants with only one lifetime DUI arrest will not be eligible for the DUI Court program and after attending the session the case will be referred to the solicitor's office to formally accuse the case. At the next arraignment date, a formal accusation will have been entered for the charges the State intends to prosecute. You will be advised of your right to an attorney and asked if you wish to apply for a court-appointed attorney. You will also be requested to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere to the charges against you.
Motions must be filed at or before your arraignment date or they will be considered out of time. Motions may be filed to present defenses to the charges against you or to challenge the evidence or witness testimony intended to be admitted at trial. If your Cherokee County DUI Attorney does not file the appropriate motions at or before arraignment, those challenges to the evidence will be waived.
Cases not already resolved with a plea will be scheduled for Calendar Call, which is a status date used to determine if there are any outstanding issues in any cases and which cases are ready for trial. If a case is not prepared for trial, it may be continued to the judge's next calendar. If a case is ready for trial, the judge will ask if it will be heard by the judge or by a jury. The defense always has an absolute right to a jury trial for any DUI in Cherokee County, Georgia.
At trial, the prosecution has the burden of proof and must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor and defense attorneys will make opening statements to the judge or jury. The prosecutor presents evidence to the jury first. In a DUI case, the main evidence will be the testimony of the arresting officer and the video recording, if one exists, of the arrest. If the defense has any evidence or witnesses to testify, it can present its case after the prosecution has rested its case. After closing arguments, the judge will read his instructions to the jury in order to inform them of the law as it should be applied to the case. The jury will deliberate privately until a verdict is reached. If you are found guilty, you will then be sentenced by the judge. If you are found not guilty, you will have been acquitted of the charge and free to leave.
Canton Municipal Court
Holly Springs Municipal Court
Ball Ground Municipal Court
Nelson Municipal Court
Woodstock Municipal Court
Cherokee County State Court
Cherokee County Superior Court
Your court case begins with an arraignment, or initial hearing. If you have hired the Law Office of Richard Lawson to represent you, we will file paperwork with the court letting them know that we are representing you and that you intend, at this early stage of the case, to plead NOT GUILTY. That means that you will not have to come to court for the arraignment and that you do not have to take time off from work or school or find daycare.
After we file our Notice of Appearance, we will immediately begin working on and analyzing your case. We will get copies of all the relevant police reports, any taped statements or videos that may have been taken during the investigation, and copies of the testimony of the officer if you had an ALS Hearing.
Once we begin compiling our case, we will have an idea of exactly what evidence the State has collected and can begin negotiations with the prosecutor.
The court case will proceed through several different stages, from arraignment, through pretrial, to trial. Descriptions of each of these stages can be found on our website and will give you an idea of what takes place during each. Of course, we will also be speaking with you and meeting you, either in person or telephonically, throughout your court case and will be available to answer questions at any time about court hearings, plea negotiations, evidence, and any other developments in your case.
We are a 'hands-on' law firm and we take pride in the high level of communication we maintain with our clients. You DO NOT want to hire an attorney who does not return phone calls within a day or two or one who does not employ an educated staff that can answer most questions quickly and accurately.
If you are arrested for DUI in Cherokee County, or anywhere in Georgia, it is very confusing. During these emotional times, it is easy to make a bad decision when considering whether to hire an attorney to represent you and once you decide to hire one...which one?
The Law Office of Richard Lawson is here to guide you through this complicated process and offer a free consultation to discuss your case to help you determine how you would like to handle it.
If you would like to do some research ahead of time, our website offers a wealth of free information, which will allow you to become an informed client. Check out the pages on DUI Consequences in Georgia, Georgia DUI Penalties, Georgia DUI Defenses, Georgia DUI Laws.
Once you have determined that it is time to hire a DUI Attorney in Cherokee County Georgia, set up your free consultation with us. And because we recognize that DUIs can happen at any time of the day or night, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are also aware that taking time off from work to meet with a DUI Lawyer in Cherokee County Georgia can be difficult for some people. Because of this, we can also set up a phone conference and evaluate your case without the inconvenience of setting up an in-person meeting. You time is valuable and we hope to make your experience as painless as possible.
DUI LAW IS EXTREMELY COMPLICATED - YOU WILL NEED REPRESENTATION BY AN EXPERIENCED DUI LAWYER IN CHEROKEE COUNTY GEORGIA
The Law Office of Richard Lawson handles DUI cases exclusively. You do not want to hire an attorney who is not familiar with the complicated case law and statutory law relating to a DUI in Georgia. Because there are so many DUI cases cited each year and so many of the DUI investigations have serious legal issues, there are generally many DUI cases that result in an appeal. When a court case is appealed to higher courts, the judge or judges will often write an opinion. The opinion they write then becomes law. If your DUI Attorney in Cherokee County, Georgia is not fully up to speed on new case law, your rights can be seriously jeopardized!
Richard Lawson is a recognized expert in DUI defense, and has attended and taught seminars on DUI defense throughout Georgia and the United States, teaching other attorneys how to defend DUI cases. You can hire an attorney that TEACHES OTHER ATTORNEYS how to be effective DUI defense lawyers!
Defenses to Your Cherokee County Georgia DUI:
For more than 25 years, our office has developed and researched 50 Defenses to Driving Under the Influence cases in Georgia. These defenses are divided between defenses that show you were in fact not impaired and defenses to the procedures the arresting officer followed (or did not follow) in your case.
CHALLENGES TO THE EVIDENCE
Defenses to actual impairment usually take the form of challenges to the field sobriety tests and the state's chemical test (breath, blood, or urine test). The basis of the defense is that YOU WERE NOT DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE. You were not impaired. The chemical test is incorrect. The breath testing machine was not working correctly or was not calibrated correctly. These defenses usually need the use of an expert witness to challenge the State's evidence. The expert is used to explain why the State's position that you were impaired is not correct. Richard Lawson has, over the years, developed relationships with various highly effective and well-respected experts in the areas of impairment, challenges to blood, breath and urine testing procedures and machines, and the field sobriety tests. These relationships and experts will play a major role in the defense of your DUI case.
As a former prosecutor himself, Richard Lawson is well aware of and keeps a list of the defense experts that all prosecutors hate having to cross-examine. If there is an expert who can blow a hole in the State's case against you, you want that person testifying at your trial, on your side!
Procedural Defenses can sometimes be even more important. These are defenses to the manner in which the investigation was conducted and how you came to be arrested. In Georgia and throughout the entire United States, police officers have to follow certain procedures that are consistent with the United States Constitution and the Georgia law.
A procedural defense is generally one that is presented to the judge BEFORE a trial is even scheduled. Richard Lawson and his team of attorneys and staff will prepare written motions to file with the court. The motion is a written statement outlining some of the facts and why we believe that the State violated your rights and ultimately asking that the case be dismissed without the need for a trial. As you can see, this is a very powerful weapon in the defense attorney's arsenal.
A procedural defense is one that raises a question about how the investigation was conducted and whether your rights as a United States and Georgia citizen were violated. There are many procedural defenses. One of them is reasonable suspicion. The question that arises in a case where reasonable suspicion is an issue is did the officer have a reasonable, articulable reason for stopping you? (Articulable is one of those legal words that doesn't really exist in the outside world...it means a reason that can be stated...not just a 'funny feeling'). A police officer cannot just stop you without a reason. If he has a reason, he must be able to state it to the judge and testify to it under oath. Generally stops in DUI cases are made because you have violated some traffic law...violation of most traffic laws constitute reasonable suspicion to make a stop.
However, if the officer did not have a decent reason to stop you, and we can convince the judge of that, your case can be dismissed altogether.
A lack of probable cause is another powerful defense. In order to place you under arrest in the United States, an officer must have probable cause...that is, he must be able to state that he had sufficient evidence that you had committed a crime. Whether the evidence collected by the officer was sufficient or not is a question the judge must decide. We will take the position that the officer DID NOT have enough evidence to arrest you, the State will take the position that the officer had enough evidence to arrest you...the judge will decide and if he decides in our favor, the case is dismissed.
Some other procedural defenses include the constitutionality of the roadblock and the advisement of the implied consent rights in your case. Again, the best part about procedural defenses is that they are complete defenses to the DUI case. That means, when we are successful in presenting these defenses to a judge, the State cannot prosecute the case. That is why we recommend investigating every Cherokee County DUI arrest. These procedural defenses are not readily apparent to a person arrested. That is why you need to hire the best DUI Lawyer in Cherokee County, Georgia.
Every year, the Law Office of Richard Lawson sets many of its client's cases for evidentiary hearing, and every year they get many of those cases dismissed after showing that there were errors in the investigation, there wasn't enough evidence, or that the evidence gathered was somehow misleading or tainted. This is one of the best possible outcomes for any DUI client!
Where Can People Find Information About Georgia DUI Laws?
This website has been written to provide around the clock Georgia DUI Information. The DUI Information in Georgia is updated on a daily basis. Sometimes we update the site several times a day. We also provide daily Georgia DUI News in our Georgia DUI Information Blog. We are a state-wide DUI defense firm. We cover all of Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Our Cherokee County, Georgia DUI Attorneys explore and investigate all potential defenses in order to get the best possible outcome.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN CHEROKEE COUNTY GA FOR A DUI, CONTACT ONE OF THE PREEMINENT DUI ATTORNEYS IN GEORGIA!
THE LAW OFFICE OF RICHARD LAWSON OFFERS FREE CONSULTATIONS AND A 24 HOURS A DAY/ 7 DAYS A WEEK HOTLINE.
We are always here to help guide you through the DUI case process and do not feel you should have to wait until Monday morning. Contact us today for immediate legal help.
Cherokee County DUI Resources: