Which Court are My DUI Charges In?

by | Jan 3, 2019 | DUI |

After a DUI arrest, a night in jail, and an early morning bond hearing, you’ve made it home, exhausted and stressed to the max. One of the first questions you may have is, “Which court are my DUI charges in?”

You know that you have a court date. You know that you must be there – if you miss your court date, you may be convicted of DUI in your absence and the court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest…

The answer may be more complicated than you think – your DUI charges may be in the magistrate court, a municipal court, or General Sessions Court. Your court date may change after your attorney requests a jury trial. If you have an implied consent suspension, there may be an administrative hearing that is held on a different date and in a different location.

You will receive paperwork at your bond hearing that tells you when and where your initial court date will be. Bring this paperwork to your DUI defense lawyer when you meet with them but be aware that your court date will likely change – stay in touch with your attorney and ask when your court dates are and whether you will need to appear.

Which Court are My DUI Charges In – Magistrate and Municipal Courts

DUI first offense charges in the Myrtle Beach area will be heard by either a magistrate or the municipal court depending on where the traffic stop and arrest happened.

If you were arrested within city limits, your initial court date will be at the municipal court (city court) for that city. If you were arrested outside of city limits, your initial court date will be in the magistrate court for the location where you were arrested.

DUI first offense charges are usually written on a blue ticket – you can find the date and location of your initial court date written on the blue ticket but be sure to confirm this with your attorney because it may change after your attorney requests a jury trial.

What is the Initial Court Date in a DUI Case?

In the magistrate and municipal courts, your initial court date is when you either: 1) plead guilty; or 2) have a bench trial.

In most cases, you should never plead guilty to a DUI first offense at your initial court date. The alternative, a bench trial, is not much better. A bench trial is when the judge hears your case without a jury – the judge will most likely ask the officer what happened, ask you what happened, and then find you guilty…

This means that most DUI defense lawyers will file a jury trial request before your initial court date. Once your attorney files the jury trial request, your case is moved to the jury trial roster and you no longer have a court date.

This gives your attorney time to investigate your charges, negotiate with the officer or prosecutor, and prepare for a possible trial. Your attorney will later get a notice to appear at a roster meeting or pretrial conference (what it’s called depends on which court you are in) where your attorney can negotiate your case or set a jury trial date.

Which Court are My DUI Charges In – General Sessions Court

If you are charged with DUI second offense or higher, felony DUI, or any DUI-related offense that is not DUI or DUAC first offense, your case will most likely be in General Sessions Court.

In General Sessions Court, you will not be given a “bench trial date” like in the lower courts. You will be given notice of the date and time of your initial appearance (or first appearance) and your docket appearance (or second appearance) when you are released from jail.

These “court dates” are roll call – not a guilty plea or bench trial. You should confirm the dates and location of the appearances and make plans to be there. Although your DUI attorney at Coastal Law may get you excused from roll call dates, you will usually need to attend at least one of them and you must plan on being there unless and until your attorney confirms that you are excused.

If you do not appear at a roll call date and were not excused, your prosecutor will get a bench warrant for your arrest…

As in the lower courts, stay in touch with your attorney and make sure that you know when and where you need to appear in court.

Which Court are My DUI Charges In – Implied Consent Hearings

To complicate things a bit more, implied consent hearings are held in a different court, at a different location, and on a different day than other court appearances in your DUI case.

You do not get paperwork at your bond hearing telling you when your implied consent hearing is, because you must request an implied consent hearing before a hearing is scheduled.

You will receive implied consent paperwork, however, and it is important that you bring all paperwork to your DUI attorney when you first meet with them because the DMV may require your attorney to request the hearing using the original implied consent form you were given.

If you request the hearing within 30 days (just bring the paperwork to your attorney and let them do this), you will then receive notice of the date and location of your implied consent hearing. In most cases, you do not need to attend the implied consent hearing, although you can if you choose to.

SC DUI Defense Attorneys in Myrtle Beach

Which court are my DUI charges in? It will depend on where you were arrested, what you were charged with, and whether your attorney requests a jury trial in the lower courts.

If you have been charged with DUI, DUAC, or felony DUI in Horry County, call the Myrtle Beach DUI Defense lawyers at Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or send us a message to find out how we can help.

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