If you have made the decision to fight a traffic ticket instead of pleading guilty, you can either represent yourself in traffic court or hire a traffic ticket attorney. However, it may be costly to hire a traffic ticket attorney, and there is no guarantee that the traffic ticket attorney will be able to get you off the hook. For this reason, many motorists choose to represent themselves in traffic court. To help you represent yourself in the best way, the expert team at OnlineDriversLicenses.org has put together a guide to representing yourself in traffic court.
Contact the Court
Before heading to traffic court, there are several steps the group at OnlineDriversLicenses.org recommends you take. First, it is recommended that you contact the court to inquire about the specific procedure for dealing with a traffic offense. You may need to provide the Clerk of Court’s office with a written notice of how you intend to handle your case.
Look Up the Law You Violated
When representing yourself in traffic court, the expert team at OnlineDriversLicenses.org recommends looking up the statute of law related to your specific traffic violation. Upon reviewing the statute of law, you can determine whether you violated all, some or none of the conditions. If it can be proven that you did not violate any of the laws, the judge may end up dismissing the case.
Obtain Notes from the Police Officer
When a police officer pulls a driver over for performing a traffic violation, he or she will usually include notes on the back of the citation which details the reasons for issuing a traffic ticket. Detailed notes often help an officer to perform well in trial, but a lack of details can work in your favor. If the notes do not contain detailed information, you may be able to challenge the memory of the officer.
Before attending traffic court, the team at OnlineDriversLicenses.org recommends that you request the officer’s notes for review. To do so, you will need to submit a written request asking for permission to receive all documents or notes related to your specific case. This process is referred to as “discovery.” Upon receiving the notes, you will need to make note of any inconsistencies, provable falsehoods or weaknesses in the officer’s notes. For example, if an officer may have had an obstructed view of the scene, or if he or she may have accused the wrong driver, you should make note of it.
Organize the Case
Before representing yourself in traffic court, you need to organize the case and gather as much proof as possible. For example, diagrams, pictures and eyewitness accounts are all useful when attempting to prove your innocence. You can even make a drawing of the traffic scene to show where you and the officer were during the incident. Additionally, any photographs of the scene should be enlarged.
When representing yourself in traffic court, the group at OnlineDriversLicenses.org recommends gathering witness to back you up if possible. Witnesses may be any passengers who were present during the time of the traffic incident or nearby drivers and pedestrians. However, it is important that you agree with any of these witnesses before asking them to testify on your behalf. If you will have more than one witness, it’s important that each witness has something beneficial to offer your case. Additionally, each witness should be organized in logical order. You may also request that all witnesses sit outside of the courtroom until it is time for them to speak. Otherwise, you risk your witnesses hearing other sides of the story which may sway them in other directions. In any case, it’s important that witnesses be truthful and not lie on your behalf.
Attending Traffic Court
Before you represent yourself in traffic court, you need to be familiar with your constitutional rights as a defendant. Additionally, you need to understand the process involved. Generally, you will first appear in court during your arraignment, which allows you to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will need to pay a fine. If you plead not guilty, you will need to request a date for trial. During your trial, your case will be discussed, evidence will be presented and witnesses will have a chance to testify on your behalf. During this time, you are encouraged to outline your key defenses, present your own findings and evidence and point out any weaknesses in the case of the prosecutor.