FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. May I talk to the Judge by telephone or in his office before Court about my case?
No. Under state law and the Judicial Code of Conduct, the judge cannot discuss the facts of a case with any party or witness unless all of the parties are present and/or represented by their lawyers. Thus, as a general rule, the judge cannot discuss your case with you or a witness outside of the courtroom unless the other side of the case or their lawyer is also involved in the discussion. This rule is also designed to protect you from someone who may be your adversary talking with the judge without you knowing what is discussed.
2. What if I am a witness who received a subpoena to come to court and someone tells me I do not need to appear?
Do not rely on anyone other than the court or an attorney to inform you that you are released from your subpoena. If you are a witness and have received a subpoena, the court has ordered you to appear and only the court has the power to release from the subpoena. There are penalties under the law for your failure to appear in Court. If you are witness for the Solicitor General, you may call (229) 386-7897 the day before your appearance date to make sure your testimony is still needed. If you have been subpoenaed by a lawyer, you must check with the lawyer about your appearance.
3. If I want to pay a traffic ticket before Court, can I do this and who do I talk to?
Some traffic tickets, such as speeding tickets, may be paid before Court. These tickets can be paid by cashier’s check or money order via U.S. mail by mailing same to the Tift County Clerk of State Court, P.O. Box 354, Tifton, GA 31793. Citations may be paid by credit card at https://www.payyourtix.com/TIFT/ Tickets can also be paid in person at the Clerk’s Office in the Tift County Courthouse at 237 East 2 nd Street, Tifton, Georgia. The Clerk’s Office accepts money orders or cashier’s checks, as well as, the exact amount of cash. No change is available at the Clerk’s Office. The telephone number for the traffic department is (229) 386-7810, press 1. If the offense with which you are charged is not on the fine schedule, you must appear before the judge at the date and time on your
4. How do I get a copy of a record of something that happened in the State Court in the past?
The Clerk of Court is the official keeper of the records of Tift State Court. The Clerk’s Office is located in the Tift County Courthouse, 237 East 2nd Street, Tifton, Georgia. The Clerk’s telephone number is (229) 386-7937.
5. What if I want a lawyer and cannot afford a lawyer?
If you are charged with a criminal offense in which your liberty is at jeopardy (meaning that jail time is a possible part of a sentence if convicted), you may be eligible for an attorney paid by Tift County. When you appear at your arraignment court date (which for most Defendants will be their first appearance in court), you will be given an opportunity to fill out an application for a Public Defender. To be eligible for a public defender, your income and economic situation must be at or below the minimum allowed by state law. Public Defender services in the Tift County State Court are provided by the Tift Circuit Public Defender’s Office, whose office is located at 1212 Chesnutt Avenue, Tifton, Georgia and the telephone
number is (229) 387-6488.
6. I got a notice that my license is suspended for an unpaid ticket, What do I do?
Contact the Clerk’s Office Citation Department at (229) 386-7810, press 1. They will tell you how to pay off the old ticket and get a release form to send to the Department of Driver’s Services to get the hold on and suspension of your license removed.
7. Can I get a continuance of my court date?
There are two reasons for which the judge will continue a case on an emergency basis:
- a death in the immediate family, and we will need to get the name and telephone number of the funeral home and the name of the deceased and your relationship so this can be verified;
- a medical emergency, and we will need your doctor or hospital representative to email a letter stating the nature of the medical situation and that makes it impossible for you to attend court. The medical letter needs to be emailed to email@example.com and must have a return telephone number and name of the doctor so we can telephone and verify the medical situation.
Otherwise, court appearances are more important than work, school, and or vacations in that the consequences of not appearing or appearing unprepared may result in your being placed in jail. Any other request for a postponement or continuance must be in writing and filed by your attorney as a Motion for Continuance in accordance with Georgia statutory procedure and the Uniform Court Rules. A continuance must be approved by the judge.
8. Can I post a bond or pay my fine or restitution obligation by check?
No. Payments may be made with cash or certified funds only. That means either cash, money orders, cashier's checks or Mastercard, VISA or Discover credit cards. Bonds may also be posted through the US Mail with certified funds and by phone, using either a VISA, or MASTERCARD. (Please do not send cash through the mail).
9. May I have a jury trial on the merits of my case?
Yes. You have every right to a jury trial on the merits of your case
10. If the court date shown on my subpoena is not convenient for me. May I call to reschedule?
No. Except for very unusual circumstances, cases are not continued. All persons scheduled for Court are obligated to appear in court on the date and time shown on the subpoena under penalty of law. Arrest warrants are typically issued for any defendant who fails to appear in court as subpoenaed, or post bond for the case cited.
11. If I choose to post a bond rather than go to court, how is my case actually disposed?
In most cases the required bond is equal to the court's table of fines plus the fees and surcharges required by law for each offence included in the case. The bond amount required for each citation is printed on the subpoena(s). If that bond amount is posted before the court date, and the defendant chooses not to appear, the bond is forfeited and the case is closed, marked disposed by bond forfeiture. Further, just as with a guilty plea in court or a finding of guilty, the case will be reported to all State agencies requiring notification. If points are to be assessed, those agencies will make the necessary assessments
12. What options do I have for handling my case?
1. You, alone or with counsel, may appear to court on the date and time shown on your subpoena and address the court on the merits of the case.
2. You may choose to post a bond equal to the total of all bonds set for each citation included in your case. Having posted the required bond, you may choose not to appear and forfeit the bond. This will dispose of the case. (NOTE: This only applies to specific traffic. If you fail to appear on other types of offenses, your bond may be forfeited and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.)
3. You may ask for a jury trial on the merits of your case.
13. How do I update or correct my address with the State Court?
Defendants must file their address change with the Clerk of Court.
14. Where can I find information about Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) and Time Expired Restrictions (formerly expungements)?
O.C.G.A. §35-3-37 provides for the restriction of certain criminal history records for non-criminal justice purposes when approved by the prosecuting attorney. For arrests after July 1, 2013, there is no application process. You must contact the prosecutor to have your record restricted. For arrests prior to July 1, 2013, you are required to apply for restriction at the arresting agency. The application can be found at https://gbi.georgia.gov/. Follow the instructions on page one to apply for your record restriction. If you have additional questions regarding the Time Expired Restrictions, please contact the GCIC CCH/Identification Services Helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. How do I find a lawyer?
The Clerk’s Office is prohibited by law from giving legal advice and cannot recommend a specific attorney. At its website, the State Bar of Georgia offers “suggestions to aid and assist individuals and businesses in choosing a lawyer.”
16. I appeared in court and paid my fine for speeding. I have received a notice that I must pay another fee because my speed was excessive. I have lost the information on where to send the payment. Why do I have to pay this fee? Who do I contact? If I must pay this fee, how do I pay it and who do I contact? What if my license is already suspended?
Georgia's 'Super Speeder Law' defines a Super Speeder as a driver convicted of speeding at 75 mph or more on a two-lane road or at 85 mph and above on any road or highway in the State of Georgia. In addition to the fines and fees paid to the jurisdiction where the speeding offense took place, a $200 Super Speeder state fee is to be paid by the convicted driver. Failure to pay the Super Speeder fee within 120 days of official notice will result in the suspension of the offender’s license or driving privileges. Payment of a $50 reinstatement fee in addition to the $200 Super Speeder fee will then be required to reinstate their license or driving privileges.
17. I was acquitted (or the charge was dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense, or resolved other than by a conviction) of the DUI charge against me, however, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) tells me there is an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) on my driver’s history. What is an ALS and how do I resolve this issue?
NOTE: The Clerk’s Office only reports convictions/guilty pleas to DDS. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the accused to clear the ALS with the DDS if the charge against you is dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense, or otherwise resolved in some manner other than by a conviction for DUI. An Administrative License Suspension is an action taken by the arresting officer in a DUI case. The suspension is based upon a refusal OR upon test results from blood, breath, urine and/or other bodily substances provided by the accused. This has an administrative penalty and is separate from any suspension DDS may impose, if convicted. Once notified by the arresting officer, the Georgia Department of Driver Services will seek to SUSPEND your driver’s license (for those licensed to drive by the State of Georgia) or for non-Georgia licensees your privilege to operate a car anywhere within the State of Georgia FOR A PERIOD OF ONE YEAR. Driving while your license or driving privilege is suspended is a crime, and a conviction for driving during this suspension may result in criminal penalties and an additional period of license suspension. You may want to ask your attorney about the ALS prior to disposing of your case.