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The Greenest Urban County in America
 
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ABOUT US | NEWSROOM | LIVING IN DEKALB | DOING BUSINESS WITH DEKALB | VISITING DEKALB
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  FAQ
Recorders Court
 
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Recorders Court
3630 Camp Circle
Decatur, GA 30032
 

 
   
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

* The information is provided by DeKalb County Recorders Court and is current and accurate, but is not intended or meant as legal advice. It is your responsibility to confirm independently the information provided on this site. Policies of the court are subject to change. Legal requirements can be explained by an attorney or independent research into the Official Code of Georgia, or the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances. DeKalb County Recorders Court employees are not allowed to give legal advice or to help anyone fill out any forms or pleadings. Anyone who wants legal advice should contact an attorney.

SPECIAL NOTE:
We will attempt to respond to your e-mail in a timely manner, however, due to to the volume of e-mails that are received, a response should not be expected immediately. Your email will be answered in the order in which it was received. Sending duplicate emails may delay the response time. In the meantime, please call our IVR on 404-371-3272 for additional information or visit the Court. Abusive, profane or insulting emails will be deleted and the sender will be blocked.

WARNING: Sending an e-mail is not a substitute for appearing on your court date. A failure to appear will result in the suspension of your license by the state and the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.

1. What offenses can suspend my license?

2. What is the significance of points?

3. How many points does it take to suspend a license?

4. I forgot to come to court / I lost my ticket / I had something else to do on my court date / I was out of town; What happens now?

5. Will I just get another court date?

6. Are cases ever re-set after a failure to appear?

7. What if I want a trail and don't want to pay the ticket?

8. I tried to pay the ticket on-line or the at the cashier before my court date, but they said it was a mandatory court. What does that mean?

9. When do I have to pay my fine?

10. How can I find out my fine amount(s)?

11. Why is the fine so high?

12. Can I pay my fine with a credit card/debit card?

13. I was cited for an expired tag, suspended registration or no insurance in a borrowed car. Since it was not my car, why did I get the citation?

14. I was cited for an expired tag (not suspended registration) or I was cited for an equipment violation such as no tag, tail, brake, head light, cracked windshield at the time of the stop and have gotten it fixed: Do I still have to come to arraignment?

15. I was cited for no license on person, wrong address on my license, expired license, wrong class license, wrong endorsement on license, failure to obtain a Georgia license, and I have corrected whatever problem was in place when I was cited, do I still have to come to arraignment?

16. I think I need an attorney. Will the court appoint me an attorney?

17. What happens when I come to court?

18. The officer told me that he would make this a warning. Why do I need to come to court?

19. What do I need to know to conduct my own trial?

20. Can I subpoena witnesses for myself?

21. What happens if I am convicted at trial?

22. Can I appeal the verdict of Recorders Court?

23. What if I take a defensive driving class before I come to court?

Under 21?
If you are under 21, your license can be suspended for any one offense that carries 4 or more points, or for the accumulation of 15 points in a 24 month period. If you are under 18, your license can be suspended for any one offense that carries 4 or more points or for the accumulations of 4 points in a 12 month period.

You may be eligible to participate in the District Attorney's Diversion Program. Unless you are an out of state college student, or living independently of your parents, you will need to come to Arraignment with your parents to request this class and speak to a District Attorney (DA).
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WILL MY LICENSE BE SUSPENDED
 
1. What offenses can suspend my license?
Please click on this link for the Georgia Department of Driver Services for an official list of suspendable offenses.
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2. What is the significance of points?
In Georgia, your driver's license can be suspended if you accumulate enough points. Please click on this link to the Georgia Department of Driver Services for additional information.
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3. How many points does it take to suspend a license?
In Georgia, if you are over 21 years of age, you must accumulate 15 points in any 24 month period to be suspended on points. If you are under 21, your license can be suspended for any one offense that carries 4 or more points, or for the accumulation of 15 points in a 24 month period. If you are under 18, your license can be suspended for any one offense that carries 4 or more points or for the accumulations of 4 points in a 12 month period.
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FAILURE TO APPEAR
 
4. I forgot to come to court / I lost my ticket / I had something else to do on my court date / I was out of town; What happens now?
Your ticket notified you that if you did not appear on the date written or printed on your citation, your license could be suspended and that a warrant could issue for your arrest for failure to appear. Please go to the Information Window section of this web site, fill out and submit the form to get information on the status of your tickets.
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5. Will I just get another court date?
No. You will be required to pay the fine in full plus a contempt fee of $100.00 for having failed to appear, and the warrant will be recalled. You will also be given a form to take to the Georgia Department of Driver Services to get your license reinstated if it has already been suspended. The payment of the fine will finalize and close out your case.
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6. Are cases ever re-set after a failure to appear?
Yes. Under Georgia law, there are legal excuses for failure to appear.
  1. You were incarcerated at the time of the hearing. You must bring proof of incarceration to court to get a reset.
  2. You were hospitalized or institutionalized at the time of the hearing. You must bring proof of this. Routine doctor's appointments or an emergency room visit on the date of the hearing will not satisfy this requirement.
  3. You were active military stationed elsewhere at the time of the hearing. Please bring in documents showing you were not free to leave the base and come to court.
  4. The person receiving the ticket has been deported. ICE documentation is required.
  5. The person receiving the ticket died or was terminally ill at the time of the court date and has died. Please bring in a death certificate or program from the service.
  6. You did not get notice of the hearing. This sometimes happens if you were injured in a wreck, or arrested and was not given the ticket by the officer.
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7. What if I want a trail and don't want to pay the ticket?
The court will exercise its right to arrest you on the warrant. You could be taken into custody and it will be up to a judge to grant a cash bond of up to $1000 for your release per ticket, or to order you held with no bond until your trial date.
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PAYING YOUR FINE
 
8. I tried to pay the ticket on-line or at the cashier before my court date, but they said it was a mandatory court. What does that mean?
Certain offenses are mandatory court offenses because a conviction, a Guilty plea or sometimes, even a Nolo plea require a suspension of your license. Certain offenses do not have a set fine and the fine can be up to $1000 or more at the discretion of the court. You must come to court to find out the fine amount.
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9. When do I have to pay my fine?  
You are expected to pay your fine on your court date. Please come to court ready to do so. Probation services may be available at the court's discretion.
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10. How can I find out my fine amount(s)?
Please click on this link for a complete schedule of fines DeKalb Recorders Court Fine Schedule.
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11. Why is the fine so high?
Each court assesses a base fine. Added to the base fine are all of the State surcharges required by acts of the Georgia Legislature. We are legally required to assess and remit the add-on surcharges approved by your State Legislators. These surcharges add to the amount you are required to pay.
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12. Can I pay my fine with a credit card/debit card?
Payments are accepted online (www.dcrctkts.com) and via the interactive voice response system (404 371-3272) 24 hours a day. You can pay on your case up until 11:59PM on the day you are scheduled for court. If you appeared before a judge, your fine must be paid at the cashier window on your court date during normal business hours.
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CITATIONS IN A BORROWED CAR
 
13. I was cited for an expired tag, suspended registration or no insurance in a borrowed car. Since it was not my car, why did I get the citation?
For the purposes of registration and insurance, Georgia law does not distinguish between the owner and the operator of the vehicle. You are responsible for knowing the registration and insurance status of any vehicle you drive.
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14. I was cited for an expired tag (not suspended registration) or I was cited for an equipment violation such as no tag, tail, brake, head light, cracked windshield at the time of the stop and have gotten it fixed: Do I still have to come to arraignment?
If this was the only ticket you received at the time you were stopped, you may be able to have your citation administratively reduced and the fine reduced. You must come to court no sooner than 10 days after the ticket was issued and no later than 10 days before your Arraignment (court date on the ticket)and ask about the "Standing Order." A minimal fine will be imposed. For more information, click on STANDING ORDER.
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15. I was cited for no license on person, wrong address on my license, expired license, wrong class license, wrong endorsement on license, failure to obtain a Georgia license, and I have corrected whatever problem was in place when I was cited, do I still have to come to arraignment?
If this was the only ticket you received at the time you were stopped, you may be able to have your citation administratively reduced or dismissed. If the charge is dismissed, no fine will be assessed. If the charge is reduced a minimal fine will be imposed. You must come to court no sooner than 10 days after the ticket was issued and no later than 10 days before your Arraignment (court date on the ticket) and ask about the "Standing Order." For more information, click on STANDING ORDER.
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I WANT / HAVE A LAWYER
 
16. I think I need an attorney. Will the court appoint me an attorney?
At arraignment, you will have to fill out an application provided by the Office of the Public Defender for DeKalb County to see if you qualify. Qualification is based on your family income and your assets. If you do not qualify, you will have to hire an attorney on your own.

If you already have an attorney, the Assistant District Attorneys assigned to Recorder's Court can be reached at darcourt@dekalbcountyga.gov.
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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I COME TO COURT
 
17. What happens when I come to court?
The first time you come to court will be your arraignment date. Your constitutional rights will be explained to you by a judge, and then you will have to enter a plea of "Guilty," "Not Guilty," and in some cases, at the discretion of the judge, a plea of "Nolo." You will not have your trial during this appearance. Your case will be reset for a later trial date and the officers and witnesses, if any, will be subpoenaed to appear.

When you come to court, you will have four options:

OPTION #1: THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S PRE-TRIAL DIVERSION PROGRAM
Any person who has been cited for the first time in five years for any state traffic moving violation, a first lifetime misdemeanor shoplifting; any person under 21 years of age cited for the first time with a point bearing state traffic violation, or a first 24 or over speeding citation may qualify for this program. Eligibility for program participation is at the discretion of the Assistant District Attorney.

The benefit of the District Attorney's Pretrial Diversion Program is that once you complete the program your citation will be dismissed. It will not be reported on neither your criminal nor driving records.

If your citation is for the following offenses YOU DO NOT QUALIFY for the program:
  • Suspended or Revoked Registration
  • No insurance
  • Cancelled, Suspended or Revoked License
  • No license
  • 30 or over speeding citations for any age group
  • Reckless Driving
  • Passing a School Bus
  • Aggressive Driving
  • Fleeing and Eluding
  • Hit and Run Occupied Vehicle
  • Tag and Registration Offenses
You have up to FOUR months to complete the program. The components of the program:
  1. $200 Diversion Fee
  2. $35 per month probation fee (dependant upon the length of time you take to complete the program)
  3. $65 class (if assigned)
    • Restorative Justice
    • Me and My Driving
  4. Defensive Driving (if assigned) may be taken at any licensed facility. This fee is to be paid at the location and is not paid to the court.
Community Service (if assigned). The number of community service hours is assigned on an individual basis.

OPTION #2: NOT GUILTY
If you enter a Not Guilty plea, your case will be "reset" or rescheduled for a Trial which will take place on another date.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO COME TO YOUR ARRAIGNMENT DATE TO ENTER A PLEA OF NOT GUILTY. You can click on this link and enter a plea of Not Guilty electronically. You will be mailed a notice of your trial date. You must come to court on your trial date ready for the trial of your citations.

Officers and witnesses are not required to attend an Arraignment. They are subpoenaed to attend on your trial date. You will be given the option to have a trial before the judge (a "bench" trial) or to have your case transferred ("bound over") to State Court for a trial before a jury. If you would like for your case to be bound over to State Court, you must make this selection on your arraignment date or BEFORE your trial date.

OPTION #3: NOLO CONTENDRE ('NOLO' OR 'NO CONTEST')
You may plead 'Nolo' once every five years. If you have entered a plea of 'Nolo' in the past five years, you must plead Not Guilty, Guilty, or see if you qualify for the District Attorney's Pretrial Diversion Program.

If you enter a plea of Nolo you will still be required to pay the original fine for your citation. It is still a conviction and will appear on your driving record.

You have a right to request a Nolo, but it is completely in the discretion of the judge to grant or deny your request. A plea of Nolo on most moving violations that carry points, or on most suspendable offense, if granted, will help you to avoid having points assessed on your license or having your license suspended. There are many limitations to this general rule.

If you are under 21 years of age, your ability to enter a plea of 'Nolo' to avoid an assessment of points against your license is extremely limited. You are encouraged to consider the District Attorney's Pretrial Diversion Program to determine if you qualify.

OPTION #4: GUILTY
A Guilty plea ends your case on the date you enter it. You will be immediately sentenced and/or a fine will usually be imposed.

For traffic violations, a report may be sent to the Georgia Department of Driver Services and you points may be assessed against your license.

Ordinance violations do not involve point assessments against your driver's license and are not reported to the State of Georgia.

Also refer to Option #1, the District Attorney's Pretrial Diversion Program.
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18. The officer told me that he would make this a warning. Why do I need to come to court?
Once the officer turns the ticket in, you must appear on the date shown on the citation. If the officer wants to make it a warning, the officer can recommend that to the judge. This takes place at trial, not on the first court date, which is the date listed on your citation. If you do not appear on that first date, known as an "Arraignment," you are subject to having your license suspended for failure to appear, and subject to having a warrant issue for your arrest.
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THE DAY OF TRIAL
 
19. What do I need to know to conduct my own trial?
If you decide to represent yourself, you will be held to the standards of an attorney. Neither the court, The Assistant District Attorney, nor the clerks are allowed to give you legal advice, make any calls for you, or obtain evidence for you.
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20. Can I subpoena witnesses for myself?
Yes. You can get subpoenas for witnesses on your behalf from the Clerk of Court for Recorders Court before your trial date.
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21. What happens if I am convicted at trial?
The maximum punishment which can be imposed by Recorders Court is 60 days in jail and $1000 in fines for each violation of the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances and 12 months in jail and $1000 in fines for each violation of State Law. If you are found Guilty, you will be sentenced and fined. Your fines are due and payable immediately upon conviction. If a suspension is required by law, or if the court for any reason feels a court suspension or medical suspension is required, your license can also be suspended on traffic tickets.
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22. Can I appeal the verdict of Recorders Court?
Yes. You can appeal within 30 days of the date of the conviction by filing a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the Superior Court of DeKalb County. You will have to pay an appeal bond equal to the amount of the fine prior to filing this Petition. An appeal will not delay or defer any suspension of your license that may be required by law.
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23. What if I take a defensive driving class before I come to court?
Unless the class was ordered by a judge of this court, there is no guarantee that it will result in any reduction of fine or consideration on sentencing. It is completely in the discretion of the judge you see on your court date.

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