Traffic Court FAQ
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What Do I Need to Know about Traffic Court?
A judge makes decisions on a driver’s guilt or innocence in traffic court. Unlike a traditional criminal court, traffic court requires a lower burden of proof. The prosecutor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is guilty.
A preponderance of the evidence burden of proof means a prosecutor must only prove that the driver is more likely guilty than not of committing the crime, instead having the prove that the driver is absolutely guilty beyond reasonable doubt (the burden of proof for most crimes). This lower burden of proof makes it harder to fight a ticket.
Am I Allowed to Present Witness and Evidence?
A defendant is allowed to present witnesses and evidence in traffic court. A defendant can request to have evidence from the prosecution and police officer. The written request must be filed in traffic court prior to the hearing. The defendant is also allowed to cross-examine prosecutor’s witnesses.
What Happens at the End of a Traffic Court Hearing?
The judge will decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty. The judge may also reserve the right to make a decision later.
Will the Citing Officer Appear in Court?
It depends. If the violation is serious, the officer will appear in court. However, there is a chance that the officer will fail to appear. If the officer fails to appear, the case is normally dismissed.
Are There Defenses That Rarely Work in Traffic Court?
Yes. Poor defenses to a traffic ticket easily translate into a guilty verdict because they are not real defenses. Some poor defenses are:
- You violated the law, but did not harm anyone. It is better to plead to violating a fact or law.
- You made an honest mistake about the traffic law such as not know about the speed limit. You are required to know traffic rules.
- You tell a sympathetic story instead of providing a defense.
- The citing officer was using selective enforcement. The defense must prove the officer cited the driver because he did not like her on a personal level, racism, or some other inappropriate reason for targeting the driver.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer about My Traffic Case?
Yes, if you are thinking about or planning to contest a traffic ticket. A criminal defense lawyer can explain what to expect during a hearing in traffic court. If you hire a lawyer to represent you case, you will likely have a much greater chance of getting your penalties dropped or reduced.
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Last Modified: 03-31-2015 04:16 PM PDT
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