traffic ticket process

The Traffic Ticket Process: Why do I need a Lawyer?

By the time we buy our car, jump up and down from excitement, because we don’t ever need to ask for a ride anymore: we can drive ourselves, there come the traffic tickets. And yes, getting a traffic ticket is not the worst thing: it is not the end of the world. What most of the people usually don’t know is that the traffic ticket process can be a dreadful process. Dealing with a citation is a hassle. And when you are found guilty of a moving violation, you might face some long-lasting financial consequences.

As it is known, a traffic ticket is a notice issued by law enforcement official to a road user, accusing violation of traffic laws. And usually, what do we do? We just pay the ticket and go on with our lives. Well, that is because we face minor traffic offenses, called infractions or civil offenses, like speeding over the limit. These differ from those of more serious vehicle-related crimes. To be more precise a trail for speeding would look much different and would be much easy to deal with than one for driving under the influence of alcohol.

But sometimes, even the smallest and most unimportant ticket we get might not be fair: meaning we think it is not fair. So we decide that we don’t want to just pay the traffic ticket and get points on our license. We decide to hire an attorney to fight the ticket. Of course, we could fight the ticket ourselves, however, in most cases, this is not a good idea. But more on that later.

The traffic ticket process

Here is how usually the traffic ticket process goes. First, you need to decide if you want to fight a ticket or not. Think about it, do you want to go to court or just pay the ticket and move on? And yes, it is not an easy decision like what you want to eat for lunch, or which color hills you want to buy: red or pink.

Fighting a ticket

In some states, you might get the option of fighting a ticket in writing. For example, California has a procedure called “trail by writing declaration,” which is the following procedure. Vehicle Code section 40902 allows a defendant to challenge traffic infraction citations in writing, without having to appear in person at court. Trails by written declaration are only available in cases involving breach violations of the Vehicle Code or of local ordinances adopted under the Vehicle Code. This is actually a pretty amazing thing: can save you a lot of time and energy.

Great news?

Another great news is that in some states, you can skip the part where you have to go to court for a moving violation by paying a citation within a certain period of time. Usually, that certain period of time is between 21 or 30 days. But as life taught us, everything that sounds amazing at first has its drawbacks. If you pay a ticket without going to court, you will be admitting being guilty of the violation and will be paying the maximum fine. On the other hand, if you make the effort and show your face at court, you may have the chance of getting the judge to reduce your fine or beating the ticket. So if you took a deep look at the situation and realized that you want to go to court, well because you would probably pay less fine, but you have no time to show your face at court, there is a great solution for you. Hire an attorney to handle your case. And this is much better than doing it yourself. I mean you are going to have an experienced attorney. You will have a better chance of beating the violation.

First, comes the Arraignment

Continuing on with the traffic ticket process, suppose you made a decision of handling your ticket in court. The first day in court is called an arraignment. At the arraignment, you usually have two choices: admit to the traffic violation or plead “not guilty.” By admitting fault, you may get a reduction on the fine of your traffic ticket. You admit guilt by pleading guilty or “no contest” to the offense. Remember how when you were little, you broke you mother’s favorite vase and were in facing this huge dilemma: admit your fault or not? Well, it is almost the same in the court. Just like your mother might have forgiven you if you admitted your fault or might have not the same way, the judge might reduce the fines if you plead guilty or he might not.

Your second choice is to plead “not guilty.” If you do the latter, the judge will typically set another court date for your trial. The officer who gave you the ticket is requested to come to court as well. Here is the catch of pleading “not guilty.” If the officer does not show up on the trail, that pretty much means that you win the case. However, if the officer shows up and you don’t want to do the trail you still have the chance to change your plea to not guilty. But keep in mind, that after this, the probability that the judge will reduce your fine is much less than if you pleaded guilty in the beginning.

Then, comes the trial

If you proceed to the trial, here is what happens. As you know, in most criminal cases, you have the right to a state-appointed attorney if you can’t afford to hire your own lawyer. But it is not the same here. You don’t get fancy privileges in the traffic ticket process. You have two choices: represent yourself or hire a private attorney.

Then it is the time for the standard of proof. At trial, the government has the burden of proving that you committed the traffic offense. The standard proof can be different from state to state. For example, in California, the government must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. But in other states, like New York, the standard of proof in traffic cases is “clear and convincing evidence.”

Now it is your turn to present and challenge evidence. Usually, you have access to some of the evidence in the government’s possession through a process: discovery. Discovery might include officer notes, maintenance documents for radar equipment. The government’s evidence may consist of the officer’s testimony and physical evidence: red-light video. You also have the right to bring witnesses to court or testify yourself.

What is the last step of the trail? It is the verdict. This is when the judge will find you guilty or not guilty. If you were found not guilty: it is like you never got the citation. If you were found guilty: you will pay the fine and the violation will go on your driving record. And if you were very very bad, you might even face additional consequences like license suspension.

Why do I need a lawyer?

And now the most important part of the whole story. People usually have the questions: why do I need a lawyer? I will tell you up front. If you got a ticket for speeding 10 over, you probably can handle the case yourself. But let’s understand what is it that you are seeking when going to the court? You want to reduce the fine, right? Don’t you think the lawyer would for sure handle the case better than you?

If you ran over a group of school children, we and you and everyone else are sure that you need an attorney. And in cases that a jail time is a possibility, or the fines reach a thousand dollars or more, the smart thing to do is to have a lawyer by your side.

A traffic ticket process can end up being very complicated. Conducting a trail effectively requires preparation, legal knowledge, and skills. Usually, people hire lawyers because the good ones know the courts, the prosecutors, and the judges. They know what kinds of outcomes you can expect from each. But when you are on your own, all you can do is take chances and see what happens. If you are in the state of California, there are ways of finding the best attorney at law.

DUI case outcomes

What are the Possible Outcomes for a DUI Case?

DUI may be treated as a criminal offense of dangerous nature. Depending on the state, the penalties may be of different severity. Possible outcomes of DUI case may be serious fines, loss of driving license, imprisonment etc.

Of course, there are a set of factors which may influence the outcomes of your DUI case. For example:

  • Background of DUI case plays a great role while choosing your charge. For the first time, you might receive less strict penalties. But if you have multiple DUI cases, you need to worry about possible harsh penalties.
  • Whether you were driving with a passenger or not, is taken into account while examining your DUI case.
  • The type of the vehicle, either commercial or heavy equipment, is another factor for the outcome of your case.
  • Blood-alcohol level exceeds on the rear view mirror; this is a base for DUI case.
  • Your DUI case caused a car accident and the result was an injured or killed person.
  • At the moment of the accident, you were not under legal drinking age and beyond…

The main possible outcomes of DUI case may be as following

Fine- after being arrested for DUI, first you may face serious fines. The amount depends on the number of your previous DUIs. If it’s your 1st DUI case, the conviction amount may vary from $500 up to $1000 (amount varies from state to state and depends on the case factors). The fines can reach up to $2000 minimum for the consecutive convictions.

Lost freedom! – Fines are ”the best” outcomes for DUI, because you may risk your freedom as well. Based on the DUI crime severity, the offender may face a probation or jail time. If the conviction is for the 1st time, the probation may be up to 1 year or a jail time up to 9 months. For consecutive 3rd, 4th and more DUI cases, the mandatory sentence in jail may be at least 30 days or 5 years of jail time and more.

Banned to drive– Your driving privileges may be under threat. The period of the ban may start with 1 year’s revoke of driver’s license. Like in the above-mentioned cases, the penalty’s duration depends on the number of previous convictions. You may even permanently lose your driver’s license. But in some DUI cases, an Ignition Interlock Device may be installed in your vehicle and keep your license in use.

Serve to the community- In some cases, DUI conviction may be in the shape of mandatory community service. The service may be up to 50  hours.

Some more consequences for your DUI case

Besides the mentioned outcomes, you may also have some insurance problems. Your insurance premiums may increase in numbers or/ and you may lose some types of coverage. This may mainly threaten ”high risk” drivers. Another outcome may be 12 weeks substance abuse education if you are announced addicted to drugs/alcohol or other substances. As to employment cases, when you faced your DUI while providing your working duties, your charge can be the termination of your position. You may get fired!

Don’t get stressed, the DUI case may have positive outcomes as well

Dismissal of your DUI case is possible if there is a lack of sufficient evidence. Depending on the level of the case procedure, the prosecutor, the jury or the judge may dismiss the case. So, be attentive while gathering the evidence.

Your experienced attorney plays a vital role in your DUI case. He/she should be as experienced so as to reach a mutual agreement between the parties. Your DUI attorney should negotiate your case with the prosecutor using grounded strong evidence. This outcome is known as a ”plea bargaining” which can be either reached quickly or take some time even up to 1 year and more. If you manage to reach a plea bargain, the good news is that you may avoid your case treated as DUI, i.e. DUI charges off your record, but the bad news is that other charges may be brought against you.

Remember!

These are all the potential outcomes of DUI case. Depending on your specific case, the results vary. So, just try to hire an experienced DUI attorney who can lead to avoid convictions or alter the negative outcomes or make them less harsh. There is always way out! Create your strong case and go ahead.

 

DUI

What is the Process for DUI and How to Hire a DUI Lawyer?

When you are driving a car under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the traffic police is likely to stop you. From that very moment, the problems come to the surface. This is a long and rather complicated process. You need to know about the consecutive procedures beforehand so as not to get into much trouble. What trouble you will ask, a charge in the shape of money. To handle the situation properly, an attorney is a must in such case. But before referring to this point, let’s understand the DUI process itself step by step.

Processes for DUI  

Your car is stopped, the evidence is obtained.

When you drive intoxicated, your driving becomes dangerous both for you and the pedestrians. Police stop you to gather DUI evidence which is of a great number. First one is DUI testing. If it shows higher marks, be ready for arrest. This and other following evidence play a big role in the upcoming processes. Also, be attentive and don’t answer any questions until you contact your attorney.

You are arrested, sir!

After gathering sufficient evidence on DUI, the law enforcement officer declares about your arrest. Remember, don’t answer any questions, but try to politely comply with the officer. Never resist the arrest; it can bring some more extra charges. Again, contact the corresponding attorney for assistance on the spot.

Recording the arrest

This is your booking process at the law enforcement station. After your arrest, the competent bodies will take your fingerprint, photo, execute personal search and interrogate. As you already know, you have a right to answer none of them. Get to know your DUI rights for the after-released period as well.

You are in the court

The first stage in the court is the preliminary hearings. The judge examines all submitted evidence to decide whether you are charged or not. Be careful while gathering the evidence. If the judge decides to charge you, your case will go to the next trial stage. As we all know, the laws differ from state to state. Depending on the DUI laws acting in your state, your case may go to a jury trial. To handle the trial, you again need a skillful DUI attorney.

Here comes the sentencing!

After examining all the evidence, the court (judge or jury) reveals the verdict. If any DUI punishments are applied for you as an outcome, you may file an appeal to argue the verdict. In this process, your DUI attorney will again show the right way for appealing.

  Time to hire a DUI lawyer!

As we have already mentioned, you need a lawyer’s guidance to carry out all the above-referenced processes. Depending on a state you reside, your case will require a corresponding DUI lawyer. An experienced lawyer knows what arguments and facts to bring forward to resolve the case in your favor.

But how to find a lawyer you need?

There are multiple ways to find a DUI lawyer in your area. You can ask your friends or acquaintances for the recommendation. Another good way is the online search. While googling be attentive to avoid fake or spam websites. Search thoroughly before choosing your DUI lawyer because he/she is your main legal representative in all judicial levels. Try to choose your lawyer outside the internet. Go for free consultations to several lawyers and pick the one you feel comfortable to work with.

But before making a decision, try to understand how much experience the lawyer has in the cases like yours; ask him/her for some advice for a plea. Also, ask about the service fee which differs depending on the lawyer’s experience. It can cost from some hundred up to many thousand dollars. Before paying, be sure that the lawyer has a license and has undergone certain training or certifications as well.

Some extra information to consider!

Even if you find the most experienced DUI lawyer, you should be ready for long-term procedures on your case. Keep in mind that DUI is a criminal offense and the trials can take even years to end.

By the way, before driving under intoxication or else, think, does it worth your time and money to spend on? I believe, nope!

Represent someone in court

Do You Have to be a Lawyer to Represent Someone in Court?

Yes! In the majority of cases, especially in the USA, you must be at least a licensed practitioner to represent someone in the court. Your friend or acquaintance is in trouble with the law and needs legal support. In such situation, you can only give some information, support and/or offer some piece of advice on how to proceed. You can’t represent anybody but yourself in the court. If you do without any formal document, it will be blatantly illegal.

If you don’t want to commit an offense, never try to represent someone in the court because you’ll be thrown off the case and a charge will be brought against you. Sometimes you can even face fines and imprisonment.

Even if someone is out of the city and has to go to some hearings as an accused or else, you can’t be his/her legal representative in such cases as well. The best thing you can do is to advise him/her to hire an attorney to make the appearance at trial.

What will happen if you represent someone in the court without a license?

There are two ways out: the 1st outcome of your deed will be that the presiding judge will soon make clear that you are not qualified or licensed. Your honesty will prohibit you from representing that very person. He will order him/her to find an alternate attorney. What refers to the 2nd outcome of your representation, you will misrepresent yourself as a skillful, experienced attorney. That is, you will act illegally resulting a new case be opened against you.

Who can represent the accused in the court?

To represent someone in the court you must first pass the bar exam in your state. Otherwise, there are no any other circumstances under which you will be permitted to represent anybody in the court. Generally, those who have not been accepted to a state bar are completely banned from practicing law within that state’s jurisdiction. Such ban refers to bar-certified attorneys from other states and areas as well. For example, if an attorney practiced law in Oregon there is no guarantee that he/she will be allowed to represent the client in Texas court or elsewhere. But this stands not for all states. There are ones which permit attorneys from ”outside” to represent the client in certain cases within their boundaries.

Besides the attorney, spouses can represent each other. This is possible in the cases when they are both sued, i.e. when they are defendants one of them can appear before the court and the other will not get defaulted.

But parents can’t represent their minors. Though parents may be child’s representative on court papers, they can’t be considered as in-court representatives.

So, all these mean that you may have two choices either get a legal representative or represent yourself personally.

 Why you can’t represent someone in the court?

Based on the court provisions, if someone doesn’t have a law license, the ”client” could be vulnerable to the mistakes, unskillfulness or ignorance of the representative. This is the main reason why the judge wouldn’t allow you represent your friend or acquaintance.

Exceptions!

Some federal and/or state agencies permit non-lawyers to represent someone at hearings which are administrative. For instance, non-licensed lawyers are allowed to appear for Social Security and Unemployment Benefit hearings. Other proceedings which accept non-lawyers are some private arbitration ones. What refers to federal bankruptcy law, it also undergoes this exception. Here you as a non-lawyer can prepare bankruptcy petitions but can not go to the court.

“In all courts of the United States, the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel.”

Keep in mind, that even if you are asked to represent someone for simple and/or routine matters, you can not go to the court unless otherwise, you have a law license. Follow our advice based on the law, don’t get in troubles!

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