Alabama DUI Court Procedure

Posted by Steve Eversole | Sep 12, 2007 | 0 Comments

When you are arrested for a DUI in Alabama your case will be heard in a particular court.  The specific court your case is docketed in depends on several factors; including which police agency arrested you and how many Driving Under the Influence convictions you have.  If it's your first DUI or your second, the case is still a misdemeanor and your case will be in either a municipal or district court of the county in which you were arrested.  If you have three DUI convictions, your case is a felony and you will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the District Court of the county in which you were arrested.  A felony DUI conviction may also be heard originally in the Circuit Court of the county you were arrested, depending on how you were charged.

If you are arrested for a DUI in a municipality by a municipal police officer, your case will be heard in the municipal court of that city(i.e. Mountain Brook) if that city has a municipal court.  Municipal courts and district courts are what we lawyers call, "courts of limited jurisdiction."  This just means that these courts have no power to hear felony DUI cases.  A district court can, however, have preliminary hearings in felony DUI cases. 

There is no right to a jury trial in either a municipal or district court.  If one of these courts hear your case and you exercise your right to have a trial, then you will have a bench trial.  A bench trial is a trial before a judge only, with no jury.  If you chose to have a trial in either a district or municipal court and are convicted, you have a right to appeal that conviction to a circuit court of the county you were arrested for a new trial.  In order to perfect your right to a DUI conviction from a district or municipal court, you must file a notice of appeal within 14 days of conviction and post an appeal bond.  If you do not file within the time allotted you forfeit your right to any appeal.  You are entitled to a jury trial in circuit court.  If you lose in circuit court, you can always appeal that decision to the Alabama appellate courts.

About the Author

Steve Eversole

Admitted to practice in All State and Federal Courts in Alabama: AllAlabama State Courts, Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Court of Appeals,Northern...


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