Driving Under the
Influence (DUI) is a MISDEMEANOR.
It is NOT just a
Criminal cases generally are divided into 3
The jail term is 1
year or longer;
The jail term is up to
11 months, 29 days; and
These are generally
not really criminal matters. They
usually carry only a
fine, and are civil in nature.
traffic cases such as vehicular
homicide are felonies,
and certain traffic cases such as
Driving under the
influence (DUI) or driving on a revoked
or suspended license
There are 3 types of
Courts in Shelby County, Tennessee for Driving on a
revoked or suspended license criminal
This is a Court of a
municipality such as Bartlett, Germantown,
Collierville, or Millington. These Courts can
conduct trials of traffic cases and
The traffic cases
involve only violations of city
These Courts can only
hold prliminary hearings of felonies.
A preliminary hearing
is held to determine if enough
evidence exists to
refer the case to the Grand Jury for
indictment and trial
in Criminal Court. The preliminary
hearing also can lead
to dismissal if no evidence is found.
These Courts have the
same authority as Municipal Courts. These Courts
hear traffic cases from the County outside any
municipality. These Courts try violations of state
criminal laws the same as Municipal Courts,
including preliminary hearings for
These Courts are the
same as Circuit Courts in other counties. However,
in Shelby County they try only criminal cases.
These cases can be either misdemeanors or felonies
which are violations of state law.
A case is brought to
the Criminal Court as a result of an indictment by
the Grand Jury. The indictment can follow a
Municipal Court or General Sessions Court
appearance, or it can first be brought by the Grand
Jury. This is the Court where you obtain a jury
trial for a criminal or driving with a revoked or
suspended license charge.
Fees are generally
less for Municipal Courts and General Sessions
Court. This is because trials and appearances are
much shorter than in the other Courts. The savings
in time is passed on to the client in the form of
Time spent on
appearances in Criminal Court is longer and trial
time is much longer than Municipal or General
Sessions Courts. Thus the fees charged are far more
substantial. It is rare for a trial to last less
than 2 days in Criminal Court. The allotment of
such a large amount of time must be
Lawyers must spend a
great deal of time preparing a case for trial. They
may need to hire an investigator, or interview
witnesses with a Court Reporter, the likes of whom
cost considerable sums of money. Therefore, fees
may appear high, but in reality are not. Fees cover
the overhead of the lawyer as well as provide
personal income to the lawyer.
The Attorney will
examine all of the evidence and research all of the
applicable law. He will then advise he client of
the alternatives available, including his
evaluation of the case. The client then has to
decide whether to chance going to rrial and
receiving a harsher result, or settling the case by
pleading guilty and receiving a lighter
The guilty plea can
involve a fine, a jail sentence, probation,
restitution, or any combination of these. It can
also be diversion, which is a probation period
which, if completed without incident, results in a
dismissal of the case and expungement (clearing) of
the client's record.
Fines and Court costs
can be paid in installment payments to the Court
Clerk. These must be arranged with the clerk after
a guilty plea or after a guilty verdict.
Sometimes a trial is
the best course of action. The client then has the
right to have a jury of his peers hear the
evidence, and then decide whether or not the client
is guilty, and what the sentence will
C. Lack of
There are no
guarantees. There are too many "people" variables.
All a lawyer can do is prepare the best that he
can, and use all of his experience and ability to
try the case in a manner which is most favorable to
Judges are people.
Some have conservative leanings and some have
liberal leanings. Some are tough, some are
thoughtful. It is the luck of the draw, and is a
factor to be considered when debating whether to go
to trial or plead guilty.
V. Constitutional Rights
Every United States
citizen has certain rights granted under the United
States Constitution. Unfortunately, our courts have
been enforcing these rights less and less since the
1970's. Motions to suppress evidence are rarely
granted any more.
The courts are,
however, enforcing rights to jury trials and right
to a speedy trial.
uninformed people are against enforcing these
rights because they feel that it benefits
"criminals." However, they usually take a different
position when the defendant is them or their
relatives. Then they are insistant on having their
constitutional rights protected and
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