Due to the number of courts in the Atlanta area and the different procedures and rules associated with each one, it is imperative that if faced with a criminal offense you consult with an Atlanta criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so you know what to expect even before appearing. An experienced lawyer can do everything from inform you of where your case will be heard, to prepare you to testify if necessary. To learn more or begin building your defense, call and schedule a consultation today.
Atlanta is a city that actually sprawls into three different counties, Fulton County, DeKalb County, and Clayton County, each one of which has their own court system with three levels of courts. These levels include traffic court, which is also called the recorder’s court, a state court, which is where a person can have a jury trial for misdemeanor cases, and superior court where all felony cases go.
This can be very confusing at times, as The Municipal Court of Atlanta also prosecutes cases meaning someone charged with a traffic offense, may go to the Municipal Court of Atlanta if the offense occurred in Fulton County where the Municipal Court of Atlanta actually rests. If, however, it was in the portion of Atlanta that’s in DeKalb County, it will go to DeKalb Recorder’s Court or if it’s in that small portion of Clayton County which is where the airport is located, it would go to State Court of Clayton County.
If you are convicted in a municipal court or recorder’s court, your appeal will be brought to the superior court in the portion of Atlanta that you are located in.
If you are convicted in either the state or superior courts you can appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. From the Georgia Court of Appeals, a person can then appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, but that is discretionary, meaning the Georgia Supreme Court has the right to decide whether or not to hear that appeal. Beyond that, a person can appeal to the federal court to include the US Supreme Court.
One of the most important things to remember about a court system is that if you are charged with a crime, whether it’s a traffic ticket or something far worse, when you go to court, there will be a prosecuting attorney for the other side intent on seeing that justice is done. Ideally, that would mean that they review the evidence and sometimes decide the charges should be dismissed.
However, in a practical matter it quite often means that that prosecuting attorney just wants to get his or her caseload lightened up. One of the quickest ways to get caseloads lightened, because they do have huge caseloads, is to offer plea deals to people to try to get them to close their cases. And while a plea deal can be attractive in the sense that it means you don’t have to go to trial, it’s important you have a defense attorney by your side to assess the options and advise you on the probability for reaching the best overall outcome.
Unless you’re an attorney yourself, you won’t know how to invoke the rules of court, and the rules of evidence in the same way that the prosecuting attorney will. So, if you are charged with a crime for which you are concerned about the outcome, you should consult with an attorney in person before you go to court.