What to Expect in Traffic Court
If you receive a citation for a traffic violation in North Carolina or South Carolina, you may notice that there is a court date on the ticket. That is the date you must show up if you plan on fighting the charges. Choosing to do so can be a wise decision, as it will save you money in a number of ways in addition to sparing your driving record of those dreaded license points. Here is what to expect if you go to court.
Many people who choose to dispute a ticket will decide to hire an attorney, especially in cases during which the stakes are high. A lawyer can walk you through the court process, which can be helpful to building a strong case You can expect to be in a room with a number of other people who are in a similar situation as you. The court clerk calls cases one by one. When yours is called, you will move to the front of the courtroom, where the details of the case may be read aloud.
Know Your Options
The judge will give you a chance make a motion, such as asking for a continuance so you can have more time before trial. You may also ask to receive copies of the law enforcement’s notes at this time, which may help you to prepare better.
Some other common motions include:
- Asking the judge to prevent more than one of the prosecution’s witnesses to be in the room at the same time, which would give them a chance to coordinate their version of the story
- Asking for a dismissal of the charges because the traffic officer failed to show up to court
- Asking for a dismissal if the prosecution took too long to bring the case to trial
A lawyer may be best suited to provide you with advice on which steps to take at your hearing, and to appropriately make a pre-trial or post-trial motion.
Hearing the Case
After any motions are entered, the trial may begin with opening statements and then testimony from both the prosecution and you. You may subpoena witnesses on your behalf, and you will get a chance to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. Once all evidence has been entered and heard, both parties will be able to make their closing statements.
Verdict and Sentencing
It is possible for the judge to take the case “under advisement,” in which case you will learn of the verdict by mail. If you are found not guilty, you will be reimbursed for any bail and you will not have to pay additional fines. If you are found guilty, the judge will hand down a sentence, which should be in accordance with typical guidelines. Keep in mind that you are entitled to appeal the decision.
Working with an attorney through traffic court is advisable to people who are serious about getting charges dismissed or reduced. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we have extensive trial experience, and in most cases can appear on your behalf with you ever having to show up in Court.
Source: Nolo.com, “What Happens in Traffic Court,” 2014