Thursday, October 21, 2010

Traffic Court 101: What's a Motion? And Other Speaking Helps

Sometimes, listening to regular people (without any knowledge of courtroom language) trying to talk to a judge can be a bit comical. I loved watching Judge Lyon amicably prompt the people into saying the "right" things. She listens well and then makes a comment like,
"so you would like to make a motion to ...." and then the person would have to fill in the blank as she couldn't put words in their mouths or tell them exactly what to say.

The following helped me prepare for how to speak in court.

A. Pay attention to the judge's demeanor and vocabulary with others in the court room.
B. Incorporate that knowledge when you speak with the judge. 
C. Be polite and ask permission to show photos or other evidence.
D. Use court room vocabulary.

  • Amend - Change the ticket from what the officer wrote down to something else. In my case, it was from a moving to non-moving infraction. If you have a perfect driving record and it looks like the evidence against you could be shaky, the prosecutor may offer this option. For my ticket going too fast down a hill, I had the option of amending it. Since I don't want my insurance premium to increase or have a mark on my record, this seemed attractive to me at first. In the end though, I couldn't say I "committed" a seat belt infraction or cell phone infraction when I hadn't.
  • ContestYou appear before a judge and explain the circumstances around the ticket. You may chose to bring in photos of the area. You may present evidence. You may subpoena expert witnesses. The judge will determine that you "more likely than not" did or did not commit the infraction.
  • Defer - Depending on your driving record, you may be able to pay a fine and not have a ticket appear on your record. In my area, this can be done once every 7 years, but not all judges will defer tickets. Keep in mind that if you have your CDL you cannot defer a ticket.
  • Discovery - Documents that the prosecutor has compiled against you. They may include a copy of the infraction report, the officer's sworn statement, SMD certification forms, speedometer certification forms, list of witnesses the State plans to call, copy of your driving record, filing date for your ticket and any other information in your file. Requesting and not receiving the discovery documents is grounds for dismissal of the ticket.
  • Dismiss - Finding the infraction "not committed".
  • Evidence - Anything that helps prove a case. The State will have evidence from an officer (sworn statement, SMD, etc.). You may bring in photos, newspaper articles, weather reports or other items that help prove what the traffic conditions were surrounding your citation.
  • Mitigate - You appear before the judge and explain what was going on when you were cited. Perhaps, the judge will reduce the penalty.
  • Motion - An action that you'd like the court to do. For example: "I'd like to make a motion for continuance to seek legal counsel/take photos" or "I move to suppress the evidence."
  • Speed Measuring Device (SMD) - A radar, LIDAR or other device used to detect how fast a vehicle was going. 
  • Suppress Evidence - Asking the judge to not consider the evidence against you. You may want to do this if the SMD had radio interference, if it was operating in the wrong speed mode or if the certification of the device is not current. You may also want to do this if there is another reason why the evidence against you is not accurate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank YOU for sharing your story with us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...