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What To Expect From a Speeding Ticket in Court

If you are facing a speeding ticket in Virginia and are interested in challenging your case, the following is what you should expect in court. For more legal assistance call and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax speeding ticket lawyer to discuss your case and what you should expect.

Do You Need To Show Up To Court For a Speeding Ticket?

For a speeding ticket you are not required to show up in court. You can instead pay the fine online which is equivalent to pleading guilty in court to the speeding charge. The best thing to do, however, is not to plead guilty to a charge without giving yourself a strong opportunity to do otherwise.

It is better to go to court and contest the ticket in hopes of having it reduced or dismissed or at the very least you can mitigate the damages of the penalties. This is different than reckless driving because with reckless driving you are required to show up in court regardless of whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.

Where Will Your Case Be Heard If You Go To Court?

Speeding tickets are heard in the general district court of whatever jurisdiction the driver was pulled over.  Some of the jurisdictions have traffic courtrooms specifically. If so, it will be heard there. Others lump them in with the criminal charges so it will be heard in whatever criminal courtroom is available.

Process of a Speeding Ticket in Court

When you arrive for your court date, you should find your case on the docket, which is usually posted outside the courtroom or somewhere readily available and visible. Once you figure out what courtroom it’s in, you should wait for your case to be called inside the relevant court room. Each jurisdiction has a different way of doing things, but generally you just have to wait until your name is called. If you have an attorney, your attorney may be required to check in but again, every jurisdiction is different and not every jurisdiction requires the jury to check in either.

Once your case is called, it will be heard in front of everyone else that is waiting in the room for their case to be called, so it is not a private matter. The people involved are obviously yourself, the judge, and the police officer that issued you the ticket. If the case proceeds to trial, then the prosecuting attorney will make an appearance.

Entering a Plea in a Speeding Ticket Case

The judge typically will ask you first how you plead when your case is called and then, depending on your answer, the case will progress differently. If you plead guilty then the next step would be to argue sentencing, in which case both you and the officer will be given the opportunity to present evidence that will go towards only sentencing, not whether you are guilty or not guilty.

If you plead not guilty then a trial will ensue in which the police officer will begin with a testimony and evidence of what happened and then it will be your turn to question the police officer if you so wish, but you are not required to do so. Then you can put on your own evidence if you so choose, although you are not obligated to do so. Then the case will progress the same as if you had pled not guilty with arguing the sentencing and then the judge will issue a sentence on the spot.  This is the procedure if you are not represented by an attorney.

Can You Plead No Contest To a Speeding Ticket?

Yes, you can. In Virginia, we call this a no contest plea and it means that while you are not disputing the charge and accept the punishment, you are not admitting your guilt. It is the exact same effect as the guilty plea.

What Questions Should You Be Expected to Answer in Court?

The only question that you have to answer is how you plan on pleading, whether guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Then you will have the opportunity to decide whether you wish to answer any other questions or not such as whether you want to testify or whether you wanted to question the police officer. You are not required to do either as the defense is under no requirement to prove anything.

Will The Officer Testify?

Yes the officer is obligated to prove that you were guilty of doing whatever you were charged with. You on the other hand do not have to prove anything and you do not have to testify. Additionally, if the officer does not have his report or remember what happened, then you or your attorney can ask for the case to be dismissed due to the officer being unable to prove your guilt.

Can You Cross Examine The Officer Without An Attorney Present?

Yes if you do not have a lawyer, you are allowed to cross examine the officer the same way as a lawyer would. You are subject to the same rules as an attorney and if you try to ask questions that violate these rules, then you will not be allowed to ask them.

If The Officer Doesn’t Show Up To Court Will Your Case Be Dismissed?

Most of the time if an officer is not present in court, it is because they have called in advance with an excuse, and then the judge will continue the case at a later date. However if the officer is simply not there and it is not an excused absence, then the judge still has the option to continue the case to a later date or the judge can have the case dismissed.

Can You Plead Nolo Contendre in Fairfax Speeding Ticket Cases?

Yes. In Virginia, we generally call this a no contest plea, which means that you are not admitting to the charge but you are also not disputing the charge and accept the punishment that comes with it. In effect it has the same consequences as pleading guilty.

Can You Negotiate The Penalties With Your Judge?

You cannot negotiate about the penalties. However, you can provide evidence in support of mitigation for sentencing.  It is possible to do a variety of things before your court date in an attempt to mitigate whatever penalties would be issued. The lawyer generally is going to do a better job arguing for leniency because the lawyer is going to have a better idea of what penalties are reasonable or fair or even beneficial or better in certain situations.

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