What happens when you fight a traffic ticket? Should you attempt to represent yourself in court? The process of fighting a traffic ticket depends on the type of offense and which court it ends up in front of. Whether it's a ticket for speeding or a ticket for driving under the influence, a defendant should almost always retain legal counsel to represent them before the court. This helps ensure their rights are protected and the best possible outcome.
Traffic Court or Criminal Court?
If you were issued a citation for speeding or other misdemeanor violation, there's a good chance you will find yourself in traffic court. More serious misdemeanor or felony offenses such as driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, or any accident involving serious personal injuries or wrongful death end up in criminal courts. This is because these misdemeanors and felonies can result in jail time if you are convicted.
Because cases heard by traffic courts are less serious, there is no right to a court-appointed attorney. You will need to pay for legal representation out of your own pocket. However, most cases result in a plea agreement prior to going before the court. Cases pled before the court are usually processed quickly and often involve little more than the defendant and law enforcement officer making brief statements before the judge makes a decision.
Traffic tickets that end up in criminal court are handled much differently. In Kansas, a criminal traffic ticket can include the following:
- Criminal Speeding
- Reckless Driving
- Evading Law Enforcement
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Habitual Traffic Offenses
- Driving Without a License
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Once charged, the individual is given a court date to appear before the district court. This is known as an arraignment date, at which time the charges against the individual are read to the court, and the individual has the ability to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Pleading no contest means that the individual isn't accepting guilt but does acknowledge the court has enough evidence to convict if the case proceeds. It is essentially a guilty plea without pleading guilty.
Preparing Yourself for The Trial Process
The trial process in traffic cases is similar to other criminal cases. The government will present their evidence, your attorney will present your evidence, and the judge will make a decision.
It is important to be prepared for court whether you are the defendant in a case or watching the case of the driver who injured you in a motor vehicle accident. The more you prepare, the more you will understand the process and what to expect.
- Know the Evidence. Know what evidence the government has and what legal arguments they are preparing to make.
- Be Respectful. Everything from your clothing to the tone of your voice should show that you respect the court's authority and the legitimacy of the trial process.
- Be on Time. In fact, show up early. There are few things judges dislike more than defendants (or plaintiffs) who show up late to court.
- Be Truthful. Once you are sworn in, you are bound by law to tell the truth to the court.
Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. We represent clients who are issued a traffic ticket in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or Texas. Day or night, holidays or weekends, we are available to give you the answers you need. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.