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How to plea bargain in traffic court

In many cases, a minor speeding ticket or traffic violation can trigger an unexpected license suspension. This is especially problematic because often the driver will not be told of that their license will be suspended and in most instances that suspension does not take effect until weeks after the court date.

Although an attorney can file a motion to vacate the plea, often this is much more costly and time consuming than it would have been if the driver had researched the consequences of the traffic ticket in advance of court. Attorney Gerstenzang is a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia who frequently lectures on legal topics relating to DUI and traffic law.

Erin has also co-chaired many DUI Seminars, working closely with nationally recognized experts in her field of practice. To speak with Erin, call or click here for a free consultation. By Erin Gerstenzang. That many points within two years will suspend the license weeks after the final court date.

What typically happens in traffic court is the driver goes to court determined to avoid a guilty plea. This sounds like a fantastic compromise since the driver is usually preoccupied with keeping insurance rates down. Since the conviction is still listed on your driving record, it is highly visible to insurance companies. Bring All Relevant Paperwork to Court. All too often drivers forget to bring critical paperwork to court.

For instance, if a driver is charged with an equipment violation — e. Another example is when the driver is charged with no insurance, but in reality the driver had valid insurance at the time — then similarly the driver should bring insurance documentation to court.

If the driver missed his original court date — but there is a very reasonable explanation — such as a hospital stay or some other personal emergency, then the driver should absolutely bring paperwork documenting that event and present it to the court.

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In every municipal court in Georgia, the driver has the right to transfer his case out of that court and up to the higher county court. Understanding the reputation of your municipal court as it compares to the county court is critical to making a good decision about how to resolve your case. As a result there is an assumption that a final decision needs to be made about the case at that initial court date.

For instance, many of the municipal courts impose much more harsh traffic ticket penalties than the county court would. The truth is, the request for a jury trial is not scary at all. In fact, most lawyers who practice in that jurisdiction will know that there are a lot of benefits to transferring a case, even a simple traffic case out of municipal court. But, of course, this very much depends on the jurisdiction. Written by Attorney Erin H. Gerstenzang Attorney Gerstenzang is a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia who frequently lectures on legal topics relating to DUI and traffic law.During these challenging times, we guarantee we will work tirelessly to support you.

We will continue to give you accurate and timely information throughout the crisis, and we will deliver on our mission — to help everyone in the world learn how to do anything — no matter what. Thank you to our community and to all of our readers who are working to aid others in this time of crisis, and to all of those who are making personal sacrifices for the good of their communities.

We will get through this together. The majority of criminal cases don't go to trial. Rather, the defendant pleads guilty, typically after he or she reaches an agreement with the prosecuting attorney as a result of plea bargaining. Additionally, when you plead guilty you can be certain of the outcome, rather than remain in limbo for months or even years during the slow and stressful trial process.

Although specifics differ among jurisdictions, all courts follow the same basic procedure for pleading guilty. Log in Facebook Loading Google Loading Civic Loading No account yet? Create an account.

We use cookies to make wikiHow great. By using our site, you agree to our cookie policy. As the COVID situation develops, our hearts ache as we think about all the people around the world that are affected by the pandemic Read morebut we are also encouraged by the stories of our readers finding help through our site. Article Edit. Learn why people trust wikiHow. This article was co-authored by Jennifer Mueller, JD.

how to plea bargain in traffic court

Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow's legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy.This was my very first speeding ticket. I plead not guilty and I got a pretrial date. I'll try to get a plea bargain, pay the ticket and prevent points. When the judge asks me how I want to plead, is it correct that I answer "Not guilty, your honor! The up side is you are showing responsibility for your actions.

The down side is if you don't like what he offers, there is no way to change it. If you plea not guilty, you will be able to make an appointment with the prosecutor and discuss the case. At least in California, this is not true: a reduction in points is not at the discretion of the court.

Points are a DMV administrative process the court can't affect. If you plead guilty, you get the points. Looks like Trooper and Begonia have the same thoughts I do and btw you will not be able to just go up and talk to the officer or the bailiff before court! They don't do that.

Plea "not guilty" and then you will be able to work something out and the judge will tell you when to return. You can request a Public Defender and in this case it's a good idea. Hopefully your state has Traffic Court and you can attend that. It will not go on your record at all, nor will any points and hence no raise in insurance rates and you'll have a clean record. You will have to pay for it along with paying for the ticket but in the long run it pays off.

If you want to make a plea bargain it has to be done with the officer or the prosecutor prior to seeing the judge. Talk to either one before entering the courtroom, more than likely they will be seeking you out. They will usually offer the lowest point which is two and drop the speed accordingly if you're willing to plead guilty.

You then go in front of the judge and the prosecutor or officer will speak first. He'll tell the judge that there has been an agreement between the prosecution and the defense. He'll explain that the state or city or whoever wrote the ticket is dropping the speed to the lowest points violation and the defendant you is pleading to guilty to the lesser fine.

The judge will ask you if that's correct and if you made the agreement with all the rights explained to you yadda yadda yadda. If you state that you did make that agreement then he will accept your plea of guilty of the lesser speed. I fell asleep at the wheel a couple of years ago, after working 'till midnight, for 17 hours straight.

I missed a red light and plowed into 3 lanes of left turning traffic hit only one bumper The lady cop was very nice to me and offered to put in a good word with the judge. She did! The judge asked me if I would agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge, to which I more than agreed! Oh, he said, just pay the court cost!!!!! It is best to fess up!Why not just admit guilt by paying the ticket? The big deal is that not all traffic violations are equal, with some being considerably more serious than others.

Another reason you might be taking a traffic ticket very seriously is if your job depends on a clean driving record. If you receive too many points, your driving privileges could be revoked. For the above reasons, among others, you may be wondering whether you can get a better deal by working out a plea agreement with a prosecutor. The main reason plea agreements are made is to serve the interest of justice while also saving the court some time and money.

This is actually good for you. It means you have the opportunity to reduce the severity of your traffic infraction by working out a plea deal with the prosecution. There are various reasons why a prosecutor might agree to a plea deal in your case:. If you would rather fight the charge after speaking with legal counsel, you should do so.

Now you know a little more about how plea bargains work with traffic tickets. Call the Law Office of James Medows to talk to an attorney for free in an initial consultation.

Reach us via our online contact form at the bottom of this page or by calling Do you want to fight your NYC traffic ticket? Call me now: Save thousands of dollars in fines. Avoid points on your license. Why You May Want to Consider a Plea Bargain for Your Traffic Infraction The big deal is that not all traffic violations are equal, with some being considerably more serious than others. Why Would Prosecutors Want to Bargain? The court is especially busy at the time.

You have a limited criminal history. Few witnesses are available. Speak with the Law Office of James Medows Now you know a little more about how plea bargains work with traffic tickets. Contact James Medows.Many people who get traffic tickets will simply pay them.

They get points on their licenses and move on with their lives.

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There are no guarantees here, but this is how it could work. Ground rules: I am talking about basic civil infraction tickets. Say, speeding 10 over or things like running a stop sign or making an illegal turn.

Fight Traffic Ticket in New York

If you ran over a group of school children or smashed your car in anger through the front window of the DMV, you should probably hire an attorney. What I am describing here is most specific to Michigan but many states have similar systems. First, read the ticket front and back. You are doing this so you know what you are charged with and what the process asks you to do.

The ticket will usually say how many days you have to respond.

how to plea bargain in traffic court

Do not put this off. If you do not respond in time you can be held responsible for the ticket, more fines and costs will be added to what you would have had to pay, and a warrant may even be issued for your arrest. Some states ask you to enter a plea of some sort when you respond to the court. Do not plead responsible or guilty or whatever your state calls the bad thing.

how to plea bargain in traffic court

Not guilty or Not responsible is how this process starts. The court will then give you a date. Some states have two kinds of hearings you can ask for: an informal and a formal. Sometimes, if you do not like the outcome of the informal, you can then take your case to the formal.

The ticket will explain if this is the case. If so, ask for an informal hearing. Why not? You get two bites at the apple, as they say.

You then go to court. Dress nice. I cannot stress this enough. You cannot be taking the system seriously if you dress like that. Get there early. Ideally, you will be in the line of people who are lined up at the courthouse doors when they open.

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And guys, seriously: Take off your hat when you are indoors. Especially if you are prone to wearing a baseball hat backwards. Go inside and check in. That is, let the court clerk know you are there. They will tell you that a prosecutor or whoever handles these in your jurisdiction is in a conference room or some such. You will then probably stand in line. The prosecutor will have your file.

Your file contains your ticket and your driving record. The officer may or may not be there. They may even be on call meaning they can be there if they need to be. I am not going to give you any magic incantations to get the ticket thrown out. Your best bet is to see if you can get the charges reduced.When entering a plea with the Court on a traffic citation, you have three choices to make; guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

The Judge only wants to hear one of them. The Judge sets a trial date and moves on to the next case. If you do this, you are agreeing with what you have been charged with and making an admission that you did what was alleged on the citation. The Judge will accept your guilty plea and access a fine associated with the charge. He will then order the appropriate fine.

Lawyers love using Latin. No contest means that you do not agree with what you were charged with, however, you will accept the fine or punishment associated with the charge.

The difference between guilty and no contest is in the admission of the charge against you. Guilty equals, yes I did what I was charged with and admit it. No contest equals, I do not agree and make no admissions to what I was charged with, however, I will accept the fine or punishment associated with the charge. The most important time to use a no contest plea is when there is some damage associated with the charge, like an accident. If you ran a red light and hit someone and are charged with failure to obey a traffic control devise, a guilty plea and admission can be used in civil court to show fault for the accident.

If you enter a no contest plea, you are not making an admission to the facts. Call Water Street, Ste. All Rights Reserved.Skip to content. Public Education. Plea Bargaining. Many criminal cases are resolved out of court by having both sides come to an agreement. This process is known as negotiating a plea or plea bargaining.

In most jurisdictions it resolves most of the criminal cases filed.

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Either side may begin negotiations over a proposed plea bargain, though obviously both sides have to agree before one comes to pass. Plea bargaining usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or to only one of several charges. It also may involve a guilty plea as charged, with the prosecution recommending leniency in sentencing.

Many plea bargains are subject to the approval of the court, but some may not be e. Plea bargaining is essentially a private process, but this is changing now that victims rights groups are becoming recognized. Under many victim rights statutes, victims have the right to have input into the plea bargaining process. Other alternatives are also possible in the criminal justice system.


Many states encourage diversion programs that remove less serious criminal matters from the full, formal procedures of the justice system. Typically, the defendant will be allowed to consent to probation without having to go through a trial. If he or she successfully completes the probation - e.

Search ABA. Close Search Submit Clear. Steps in a Trial Plea Bargaining Many criminal cases are resolved out of court by having both sides come to an agreement. Plea bargaining is prevalent for practical reasons. Defendants can avoid the time and cost of defending themselves at trial, the risk of harsher punishment, and the publicity a trial could involve.

The prosecution saves the time and expense of a lengthy trial. Both sides are spared the uncertainty of going to trial. The court system is saved the burden of conducting a trial on every crime charged.

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