With Reese Witherspoon’s recent mishap, all eyes have been on Atlanta’s Municipal Court as the actress and her husband closed their cases. Since her arrest, I have kept the opinion that Witherspoon should plead no contest at the first opportunity and move on. Last week, Witherspoon did enter a no contest plea, while her husband entered a guilty plea to DUI. So, what effect will the case have on Witherspoon’s record? Not much, actually.
Atlanta Municipal Court is empowered to conduct hearings and trials on Atlanta’s city ordinances. Under Atlanta’s code, disorderly conduct for obstructing an officer is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. While every case is different, generally, most defendants are not being fined $1,000 or being sent to jail. If your case warrants, the prosecutor can transfer your case to the Fulton County court system on state charges.
Local ordinance charges in Atlanta do not get transferred to your criminal history maintained by the State of Georgia. Thus, there is no visibility of a no contest plea if someone is pulling your record from a state agency. However, Atlanta’s court does publish calendars online, so someone searching could easily find out about a pending case. For Witherspoon, the world knows about the arrest anyway, so there is really not much benefit to attempting a diversion or similar program that would allow a record in Atlanta to be expunged. I don’t see her being denied many roles for a local ordinance conviction…
If you have a pending disorderly conduct charge in Atlanta, call me today to discuss your defenses. I will be happy to speak to you about the facts of your particular case and how to navigate through Atlanta’s court system.