Different jurisdictions handle traffic violations in different ways. In some communities, you may be able to pay the fine by mail or online, while others will require you to attend a court hearing. Some jurisdictions may schedule a separate arraignment, while others will handle all the proceedings during one court appearance.
Despite the variations, there are some patterns that generally hold true in traffic court proceedings across all jurisdictions.
Traffic court is an open court proceeding. This means that all the defendants whose cases are heard that day will be in the courtroom at the same time. The judge will likely swear you all in together. You will hear other people’s cases, and other people will hear yours. This may be to your advantage, as you will get an idea of how the judge manages the courtroom.
Entering a Plea
You will have the opportunity to enter a plea. You can either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Pleading no contest means that you do not admit guilt but you admit that the evidence is against you. If you go to court and plead guilty, there is a chance that the judge may reduce your fine. If you plead not guilty, there is a chance that you could have your case dismissed if the officer who issued the citation does not show up to court.
Your case may be prosecuted by an attorney who works for the district. However, it is also possible that the police officer who issued the citation may prosecute the case.
After the clerk calls the case and the judge makes a brief statement, but before the proceedings begin in earnest, you may make requests of the court called motions. Under certain circumstances, such as when the officer is not present or it has taken too long to bring the case to trial, you may be able to make a motion that the case be dismissed. You can also ask for more time to prepare by asking for a continuance, or you can request that the judge order the prosecution to provide you a copy of the officer’s notes.
When you make a motion, wait for the judge to stop speaking, stand up, and address the judge as “Your Honor.” Make your request brief and to the point.
If you aren’t familiar with court proceedings, it is appropriate to hire a speeding ticket lawyer in Emporia, VA to represent you in traffic court.. Contact a law office to schedule a consultation.
Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into criminal law and what to expect in traffic court.