There are two kinds of Mecklenburg County DUI courts that cases can be heard in, district court and circuit court. Which court a case goes to depends on the severity of the offense that a person has been charged with. If you want to know more about how these courts work and what to expect at trial, speak with an intelligent DUI lawyer that could answer your questions.
Misdemeanor DUI trials will be heard in the General District Court by a judge and felony DUI cases will have preliminary hearings, which are the equivalent of a probable cause hearing, in the General District Court. District court judges treat DUI charges seriously because of the risk to public safety and the high risk of injury even if no injury occurred in the specific case. Judges in Mecklenburg County DUI courts also treat these cases like they treat any other case, in that, they will not convict somebody unless the prosecution has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
General District Court judges are appointed by the General Assembly. They are not elected but are appointed by elected officials. The court determines which judges hear each case based on a preexisting schedule and not based on the cases that are scheduled to be heard.
Felony DUI trials will be heard in Circuit Court either by a judge or a jury. The Commonwealth Attorney and the person who has charged each have a right to determine whether they want their case tried before a jury. Additionally, misdemeanor appeals are tried in the Circuit Court. If someone appeals their case in the General District Court, they have a chance to have their case heard all over again by a new judge in the Circuit Court.
The Circuit Court judges treat DUI charges seriously because of the risk of public safety. Circuit Court judges often hear felony DUI charges, which are particularly serious. However, the Circuit Court judges here are very fair and they will not convict someone unless the prosecution has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Circuit Court judges are appointed by the General Assembly. They are not directly elected but are appointed by elected officials. Circuit Court judges come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are criminal defense attorneys primarily before taking the bench and others were primarily civil attorneys. Many Circuit Court judges have experience in all areas of the law prior to being appointed to the Circuit Court.
During DUI cases, it is always the defendant’s absolute right to decide whether or not they want to go to trial and, regardless of how an attorney advises them, the case might go to trial if the person insists on a trial. The lawyer might also advise the individual to go to trial for any number of reasons, including the issues that might be present in their specific case. It may be that there is no plea agreement that is worth accepting and therefore there might be a better result by going to trial.
However, in some situations, the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the defense might reach a plea agreement, the terms of which are acceptable to both the defense and the prosecution, and that might resolve the case prior to going to trial. If an individual wants to know more about plea deals and how to handle Mecklenburg County DUI courts, they should speak with a knowledgeable lawyer that could help.