Going to Traffic Court: How to Prepare a Defense
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Going to traffic court may loom as an imposing confrontation for many people, but others realize it may be the best chance they could have to beat their traffic ticket, no matter what the charges. A number of strategies have proven successful in traffic courts throughout the country. However, anyone who wishes to fight a traffic ticket must prepare appropriately and appear in court as an honest and sincere citizen fighting for their rights to obtain a victory.
Traffic Court Strategies
The first step is to be sure of the violation with which the defendant is charged. Taking the time to research and obtain the exact wording of the traffic law allows them to compare it to the charge on their traffic ticket. If the ticket does not carry the same charge as the law reads, they may be able to have their charges dismissed because what they are charged with is not actually against the law.
If the defendant chooses to go to court to fight their traffic ticket, there are several options and/or defenses they should consider:
- No accuser – if the arresting officer does not appear in court to allow the defendant to challenge the charge, the case will be thrown out (they may increase the odds of that happening by postponing the court date to the officer’s day off, closer to holidays or vacation times, or during summer vacation)
- Camera tickets – most courts will not have the video evidence of the defendant’s infraction, so even if the officer who issued the ticket is present, their testimony is only “hearsay” because it only repeats what the video is supposed to have said. Without the actual video, the case may be dismissed.
- Speedy Trial – the Constitution guarantees a speedy trial, which is translated into within 45 days of the infraction. At the jail a defendant is asked to sign papers, one generally asking them to waive their right to a speedy trial. If the defendant does not sign do so, and the court cannot fit their trial in within the 45-day period, their case will often be dismissed.
- Radar Evidence – Any type of evidence based on equipment should be an opportunity to learn if that equipment could have been faulty. Radar guns must be calibrated every 30-60 days. Most police stations do not maintain that schedule. If the defendant can obtain the calibration or maintenance logs and learn that the device had not been recently calibrated, that evidence may be thrown out. In addition, officers are generally supposed to check the calibration with a tuning fork after issuing a ticket. If there is no evidence that the officer did so, the evidence may be judged faulty and inadmissible as well.
- Ticket errors – Many police officers make errors on the tickets they write. If those errors are in significant areas, such as writing the wrong name for the suspect, the wrong street for the location, or the wrong date for the violation, the ticket may be considered invalid and the case dismissed.
Getting Legal Help with Preparing for Traffic Court
There are a number of opportunities for defendants to challenge their traffic tickets in court, but some of these strategies are specific and require information from the police station, the ticket, or police logs. It can be difficult for a defendant to obtain that information without the assistances of a knowledgeable traffic ticket attorney. These legal experts know not only how to obtain the appropriate evidence, but how to present it well to have a case dismissed.