By: William C. Head, Board-Certified Gwinnett DUI Lawyer and Drunk Driving Book Author
Nearly a dozen Gwinnett County courts could be your first stop at arraignment (first appearance), following your arrest for DUI in Georgia. The state of Georgia has an unusually substantial number of different courts that handle misdemeanor traffic and Georgia DUI arrests, and these tribunals in Gwinnett County, GA include the juvenile court, probate court, 14 municipal courts, a recorders court, a state court, and a superior court. Driving under the influence cases are common in all of these courts.
The very large population of Gwinnett County means a high volume of criminal cases, including violations of Georgia DUI laws. Multiple different judges occupy the bench (in multiple different courts and multiple different courtrooms) for almost all of these courts. The image of the main Gwinnett Courthouse shown above, (which is little over 40 years old) and looking at the previous courthouse in Gwinnett County, below, gives some idea of the explosive growth that has occurred in less than half a century. In 2018, a new expansion and parking lot redesign are underway.
Today, the national headquarters for Waffle House, as well as insurance giant Primerica, NCR Corporation, and America Megatrends are based in the fast-growing north central Georgia county. Named after American patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett, the first courthouse in Gwinnett County (see image, above right) was at the home of settler Elisha Winn, built less than a decade earlier. The Dacula area home was purchased by Gwinnett County on December 15, 1818, when the county still had fewer than 5,000 residents.
In Which Court Do Cases Generally Begin for Gwinnett County?
When some clients first call our law office, they are confused over what court has their Gwinnett traffic ticket. The determination of “in which court do cases generally begin,” like most other questions, is controlled by Georgia laws on misdemeanor traffic tickets. The answer is ALWAYS found on the uniform traffic citation issued by the arresting officer, plus can usually be determined by your bonding papers.
Below, see the RED oval indicating where and when your traffic court appearance is required.
Because the probate court in Gwinnett County does not handle any traffic or criminal cases, the juvenile court only deals with juvenile crimes, and since superior courts in Georgia only deal with felony cases, your most likely initial Gwinnett Traffic Court for all misdemeanor traffic ticket offenses is Gwinnett Recorder’s Court.
To be certain, simply look at your traffic ticket for the name of your specific criminal court, and your next court date, which is called an “arraignment.”
When a local city was the place of your Georgia DUI arrest or issuance of a traffic ticket, (if you were arrested within a municipality (city), such as Duluth, Peachtree Corners, Norcross, Snellville, Sugar Hill, Berkley Lake, Lilburn, Lawrenceville, or Suwanee) then your traffic court will NOT be at Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County, but will occur in that city’s municipal court.
In such municipal arrests, the Georgia DUI misdemeanor cases that are not juvenile or felony offenses go to that particular city’s municipal court. A 1st DUI offense can be in any of these courts, which share jurisdiction.
Misdemeanor DUI and other traffic ticket cases, outside the city limits of a Gwinnett municipality, (unless being charged for a juvenile driving under the influence case or as a DUI felony) start in the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County of Gwinnett County, GA. Refer to your arrest paperwork and traffic citations for this information.
Over a decade ago, Gwinnett County’s population explosion caused the Gwinnett County Commissioners to build a new Gwinnett County Courthouse that houses the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett County Juvenile Court, located at 115 Stone Mountain Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. Other criminal courts for Gwinnett County, Georgia are located ¼ mile away at 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046
Three characteristics of the Gwinnett Recorder’s Court help identify the role and function of recorder’s courts in GA, as applied within the Gwinnett County Court system. First, this specially-legislated court handles criminal, misdemeanor, and county ordinance cases only.
Second, it only has jurisdiction (the power to adjudicate) over non-jury trials, meaning that no juries are ever assembled to hear cases in this Court. If you stay in Gwinnett Recorder’s Court, a judge decides your case with no jury.
Third, the design of this court is to be a “filtration system” set up to initially screen criminal cases arising in Gwinnett County, to alleviate overcrowding and backlog in the Gwinnett State Court.
State courts in Georgia are where misdemeanor jury trials are conducted, as well as a limited number of other civil cases (like personal injury car accident cases) are heard by the judges at State Court of Gwinnett County. For any person charged with a city court case, by demanding a jury trial, your case will go to State Court of Gwinnett County.
Sometimes called the Gwinnett County Traffic Court, all sorts of motor vehicle traffic citations and misdemeanor DUI GA arrests start their court journey in the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County, GA, where a non-jury (bench) trial is available. If you have a first offense DUI charge, some common law DUI plea bargains can be obtained, but you can always bind over your case for a jury trial at State Court of Gwinnett County.
In reality, very few Georgia DUI trials occur in non-jury courts like the Gwinnett Recorders Court, since driving under the influence is very serious and a jury trial typically offers better odds of acquittal from a statistical standpoint. Your DUI attorney can explain this dynamic to you, as well as the cost and time requirements needed for an expert witness.
The Prosecutor for Recorders Court of Gwinnett County is called the Solicitor-General, and the prosecutors who oversee Gwinnett Recorder’s Court are from the same office of the State Court of Gwinnett County’s Solicitor-General’s office. But, a separate office is maintained, on the second floor of the courthouse at 115 Stone Mountain Street, which is the same floor as the three courtrooms for the Judges of the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett.
A simple request for transfer of your case to Gwinnett County State Court will cause your file to be moved over to that Court, which has jury trial jurisdiction, in Gwinnett County, GA. Don’t plead guilty to DUI Georgia, even if facing a 1st DUI, without consulting a DUI law firm that specializes in drunk driving defense.
Under Georgia DUI laws, all misdemeanor criminal cases are heard by a six-person jury. The Gwinnett State Court is located at 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville GA 30046, which is the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center. Statistically, a jury is more likely to acquit for a DUI charge than a judge hearing your case without a jury.
Every Judge in the State Court of Gwinnett County is different from the three judges at the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County. Pushing 1 million residents, Gwinnett County is now the second largest county in GA, other than Fulton County, where the capital city of Atlanta is located.
With growth comes industry, including the Mall of Georgia (in the Buford, GA area), Gwinnett Arena (now renamed the Infinite Energy Arena), plus is the home of the Gwinnett professional baseball team: the Gwinnett Stripers (formerly the Gwinnett Braves), and the highly successful Atlanta Gladiators (a professional hockey team).
Arrests for Georgia DUI in the following fourteen (14) Gwinnett county municipalities usually START the criminal court process in that city court, which are more commonly called “the municipal court.”
Auburn Municipal Court, 1361 Fourth Street, Auburn, GA 30011
Lawrenceville Municipal Court, 70 South Clayton Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Loganville Municipal Court, 605 Tom Brewer Road, Loganville, GA 30052
Buford Municipal Court, 95 Scott Street N.E., Buford, GA 30518
Berkeley Lake Municipal Court, 4040 South Berkeley Lake Road, Berkeley Lake, GA 30096
Dacula Municipal Court, 442 Harbin’s Road, Dacula, GA 30019
Duluth Municipal Court, 3167 Main Street, Duluth, GA 30096
Grayson Municipal Court, 475 Grayson Parkway, Grayson, GA 30017
Snellville Municipal Court, 2342 Oak Road, Snellville, GA 30078
Lilburn Municipal Court, 34 Main Street, Lilburn, GA 30047
Norcross Municipal Court, 65 Lawrenceville Street, Norcross, GA 30071
Peachtree Corners Municipal Court, 310 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
Suwanee Municipal Court, 323 Buford Highway, Suwanee, GA 30024
Sugar Hill Municipal Court, 5039 West Broad Street, Sugar Hill, GA 30518
Like Gwinnett County DUI arrests that start at Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County, any citizen can demand a jury trial, and his or her case is then “bound over” and transferred to Gwinnett County State Court, in Lawrenceville. A six-person jury and a Judge of Gwinnett State Court will then decide the Georgia DUI.
Plus, an entirely different solicitor (prosecutor) for DUI-DWI cases then considers, negotiates, and goes to trial on the case, on behalf of the city police who made the arrest for DUI in Georgia.
Six Gwinnett State Court judges are assigned to preside over misdemeanor traffic offense cases, including a DUI in Georgia. Whether the case originates at the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County or a Gwinnett county municipal court, this is where a jury trial can be obtained.
Plus, these are “courts of record”, meaning that a court reporter is assigned, and a direct appeal (to the Georgia Court of Appeals, of the Supreme Court of Georgia) can be obtained, after an adverse verdict or motions hearing ruling. Our DUI attorneys have handled several hundred DUI cases in these Gwinnett courts over the last decade.
Ten different Gwinnett Superior Court judges have been elected as Gwinnett Court judges, in Superior Court of Gwinnett County. This Court, under Georgia laws, is the court of general jurisdiction in the county. Occasionally, a Gwinnett Magistrate Court judge will be presiding over a Superior Court case and sitting in for a Gwinnett County Superior Court judge. All Superior Court Judges and Courtrooms are at 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA.
Felony DUI cases include a fourth DUI in Georgia in ten years or any DUI-based, first-degree vehicular homicide that occurs in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The Gwinnett County District Attorney oversees and prosecutes all felony cases occurring within Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Vehicular homicide in GA (also called homicide by vehicle) by being a drunk driver carries up to 15 years in state prison, per “count” (per death, or serious bodily injury) by driving under the influence (DWI-DUI). Serious injury by vehicle GA cases can carry a 1-15 year potential prison sentence.
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Talk to Gwinnett DUI attorney Bubba Head or his two law partners, Gwinnett DUI lawyer Larry Kohn and Cory Yager, Gwinnett criminal defense attorneys. Both Georgia lawyers share Mr. Head’s passion for criminal justice, beating a DUI charge, or obtaining the very best outcome for each and every client facing a traffic offense or felony criminal charges.
Because DUI in GA is one of the most highly litigated types of crimes, our Gwinnett attorneys regularly have contested cases in the municipal courts in Gwinnett County, or in the State Court or Recorder’s Court.
DUI attorneys Larry Kohn and Cory Yager, have never worked anywhere else as attorneys in Georgia, except as criminal attorneys with William C. Head, Georgia’s most famous driving under the influence attorney. Whether facing a first offense DUI or a 2nd DUI in GA, our criminal defense lawyers are prepared to help and are experienced when it comes to knowing how to beat a DUI in court.
In 2016, drunk driving attorney Larry Kohn was asked to write a drunk driving book chapter as part of a comprehensive, national DUI Practice Guide for DUI attorneys seeking to improve their DUI trial practice skills and learn how to beat a DUI. So, he joins DUI lawyer Bubba Head as a drunk driving book co-author.
Georgia DUI lawyer Cory Yager brought a unique set of skills to Mr. Head’s DUI Law firm in 2007. A former NY firefighter, before moving to Georgia to become a Cobb County Police Officer, and (later) a Roswell, GA Police Officer, criminal defense attorney Yager managed to work full-time as a cop while also achieving the second highest honor graduate position at his law school, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.
Georgia DUI attorney Larry Kohn has worked with senior partner Bubba Head since 1996, after finishing his first year of law school at Georgia State University, graduating magna cum laude. Very few drunk driving lawyers in all of Georgia can claim to have achieved such high academic standing.
Mr. Kohn, a Super Lawyer for 2017-2018, has personally handled over 2,700 DUI cases, misdemeanor and felony, in nearly 20 years of law practice. Larry Kohn has successfully handled multiple high-profile criminal law cases, including the highly publicized trial of a city councilman charged with DUI and child endangerment in Fulton County State Court, and the highly-publicized circus elephant abuse case in the City of Atlanta. Mr. Kohn has also successfully handled numerous criminal defense cases for athletes and celebrities, including two number one NBA draft players.
For the past seven years, this has meant that over 100 drunk driving cases per year that were assigned to Atlanta DUI lawyer Cory Yager have been reduced or dismissed, without going to trial.
Attorney Cory E. Yager shares Mr. Head’s top Martindale-Hubbell ratings av 5.0 of 5.0 and has (for 6 consecutive years) been named as a Super Lawyers Rising Star (the designation for attorneys under age 40), which is unprecedented for a DUI lawyer in the state of Georgia.
Of the dozens of lawyers in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia who have worked with Bubba Head, no other attorney in Atlanta ever was named to so many consecutive Super Lawyers awards as Cory Yager. Since he turned 40 years old this year, Mr. Head expects Mr. Yager’s streak to continue in the Super Lawyers category.
Winning criminal cases is no easy task, and requires experienced DUI lawyers who are familiar with Georgia DUI laws and all aspects of pre-trial motions, trials (and appeals, if needed). Our drunk driving lawyers gladly talk about prior DUI case reports in Gwinnett County, so that prospective clients know that we are on their side and that we know how to beat a DUI.
Criminal defense attorneys who never fight a DUI in Georgia have no real chance of being offered a plea deal such as a DUI reduced to reckless driving, until and unless that criminal lawyer has proven that he or she will challenge the field sobriety tests, the breath alcohol test, and all aspects of the GA DUI arrest.
All three of our DUI law firm partners are instructors in the NHTSA standardized field sobriety test protocols.
Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court phone number: 770-619-6100
Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court Solicitor-General: 770-619-6140
Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court fax number for Clerk: 770-619-6005
Gwinnett County District Attorney phone number: 770-822-8400
Gwinnett County State Court information phone number: 770-822-8100
Gwinnett County State Court Solicitor-General: 770-822-8300
Gwinnett County Superior Court, criminal records phone number: 770-822-8100
Gwinnett County Sheriff: R.L. “Butch” Conway
Gwinnett County Jail Address: 2900 University Parkway, Lawrenceville, GA 30043
Gwinnett Jail general information number: 770-619-6500
Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department phone number for warrants: 770-619-6800
Recent Detention Center at Gwinnett County Jail Arrests Link: http://www.gwinnettcountysheriff.com/smartwebclient/
Gwinnett County Courts – Online Case and Calendar Search: https://www.gwinnettcourts.com/