Judge Denise Andre was elected to serve as judge in Franklin General Sessions Court in 2006. She is the presiding judge over all Division I cases. In 2010, Judge Andre created the Williamson County DUI Court. This court has been her passion and her team members have dedicated a lot of their time helping those that suffer from addiction. Recently, Judge Andre was reelected to serve a second eight-year term. She has presided over thousands of DUI-related cases and takes those offenses very seriously. Click here to view her profile.
Judge Tom Taylor was recently elected to serve as judge in Franklin General Sessions Court. He is the presiding judge over all Division II cases. He has years of experience as the long-time judge of Fairview City Court and has presided over numerous DUI-related cases and is well-versed in DUI law.
If you are arrested for DUI in Williamson County, the officer will inform you of a future court date that will be at 1:00pm on a Thursday afternoon in Franklin General Sessions Court. If you have obtained a lawyer before this court date, you can have your lawyer waive your appearance, which means you don't have to come to court. However, if you have not obtained a lawyer by this court date, then you will be required to attend. At this court date, you will be given a 9:00am court date in which all witnesses against you will be subpoenaed. The court date is usually a couple of months off and gives you plenty of time to hire a lawyer and figure out your next move. Once you arrive at the 9:00am court date, your attorney will enter into plea negotiations with the district attorney's office. Hopefully, you can come to a positive resolution in your case. However, if the district attorney is not agreeable to plea bargain, you may have to have a preliminary hearing.
A preliminary hearing is a probable cause hearing. The district attorney will call the arresting officer as a witness, which allows him an opportunity to testify before the judge the alleged facts of your case. This also gives your attorney an opportunity to cross examine the police officer to look for any inconsistencies in his statements. The preliminary hearing is an invaluable tool that allows your attorney to ascertain whether the officer made a constitutional stop. It also allows your attorney the opportunity to test the officer's training in field sobriety and DUI detection and enforcement.
In lieu of having a preliminary hearing, the district attorney will offer your attorney the opportunity to review the evidence. Under the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defense is not entitled to discovery in general sessions court. Therefore, any discovery given at this stage is at the discretion of the district attorney. Although waiving a preliminary hearing to view evidence early can be disadvantageous at times, it does allow the opportunity to settle your case in general sessions court without the added expense of proceedings in circuit court. The district attorney will usually allow you and your lawyer to look at the video of the stop and determine whether you should plea guilty in general sessions court.
Unless you plea guilty in general sessions court, your case will be bound over to the grand jury either by indictment or direct presentment. The grand jury will meet once a month to determine whether there is probable cause to take your case before the circuit court. Once the grand jury determines probable cause, your case will be set for arraignment in circuit court.
If you are charged with a DUI second or third offense, then it may be possible to have your case reduced to a DUI first offense upon acceptance into DUI Court. However, acceptance into this court is much more difficult than doing the additional jail time. Although you are trading in jail time for more probation, the intensive nature of the probation can make the jail time seem a lot easier. Unless you have a drinking problem and a dedicated to your sobriety, DUI Court will only result in a lot more jail time. If you are dedicated to your sobriety, then Williamson County DUI Court gives you 11 months and 29 days to change your life. However, you must comply with several conditions of intensive probation:
Although these points do not cover the entirety of the program, they are the highlights necessary to give you an idea of what to expect. If you feel you have a drinking problem and are facing a second or third DUI offense, please contact me. The sooner we can get your screened, the sooner you can enjoy your sobriety. For more information on DUI Court, click here.