Although traffic charges may seem relatively minor, they can end up having serious long term implications including demerit points, fines, and jail time in certain instances. For this reason, it is important you understand what you are going into by consulting with a Virginia traffic lawyer before stepping foot in court. Read below to learn the basics before calling and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
Traffic cases always start in General District court in Virginia, unless it’s a juvenile case, which will be heard in Juvenile & Domestic Relations court. A standard case will be heard a District Court, which means a court where there is a judge but no jury. People also always have the right to appeal their case. No matter what the result is in the District Court, they can appeal, meaning it starts all over again, and they can also potentially ask for jury trial.
Additionally, in traffic cases, the Commonwealth has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. That means that if the judge believes that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether or not the officer used their equipment properly or actually witnessed the offense taking place, the judge could find the defendant not guilty.
A traffic ticket in Virginia can have an effect on their Virginia driving record, and also have an effect on their driving record in their home state. Each state has its own point system and some are more favorable than others. Virginia could potentially report the conviction back to the person’s home state so it’s important to compare the Virginia offense to what the offense would be in the home state and then try to figure out whether or not they will receive points for that offense.
For every traffic citation there is a variety of defenses. There is always the defense that they don’t have the properly calibrated equipment to prove the driver’s speed. Another potential defense is that they don’t have a witness in court to testify as to what happened. Other potential defenses can involve witnesses who testify as to what they actually saw and if they actually witnessed the traffic offense taking place. There is a wide variety of approaches that could potentially lead to a case being dismissed or a defendant being found not guilty.
Different jurisdictions treat alternative sentencing differently, meaning that certain jurisdictions will allow people to take a class in order to reduce their charge and lower the potential points. It’s often wise to take a class ahead of time, that way when the person goes into court, their attorney can talk with the prosecutor and potentially convince them to either lower the charge to a no-point offense or to turn the charge into a different charge with fewer points. In other cases it is wise to wait until after the conviction, depending on that facts.
The driver’s improvement classes that are state-certified are very common. If someone takes one of those classes, they could potentially resolve their case. Each jurisdiction has its own programs that they focus on, so it’s important to talk with an attorney that has experience in that jurisdiction so they can move in the right direction.
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