What To Expect in Court From a Virginia Speeding Ticket Hearing
If you are issued a speeding ticket in Virginia you are not required to show up in court and can instead plead guilty and prepay your fine online or in the mail without even stepping foot in court. However, if you are interested in challenging the ticket, you will need to go to court and may wish to consult with a Virginia speeding ticket lawyer to assist with your case.
Below is more information on what you can expect in court if you choose to challenge your speeding ticket in Virginia. For more specific information geared toward your case, call and schedule a consultation today.
Where Will a Speeding Ticket Case in Virginia Be Heard?
Speeding ticket cases are always heard in the General District Court. Sometimes courts have a traffic courtroom and sometimes they are mixed in with all of the criminal cases.
Basic Process For a Speeding Ticket Case
If you have a court date for a speeding ticket, when you arrive you should find your name on the docket to determine what courtroom you are in if you do not know in advance or if you do not have your speeding ticket on you. You should then go wait inside of the courtroom where your case will be called. Your case will be heard in the same room with all of the other similar traffic infractions and speeding tickets so you can expect that you will be in a room with a bunch of other people whose case you will get to watch before and after yours which means that all of these other people also get to watch your case.
The people involved in a typical speeding case are the judge, you, the officer who charged you, and an attorney, if you have chosen to have one. There is no prosecutor assigned for speeding cases. The judge typically will ask you what you plead, whether guilty, not guilty, or no contest and you are required to answer this, otherwise the judge does not know where to go from there.
Following your plea, the officer will testify as to what happened and you will have the opportunity to question the officer, or your lawyer can question the officer for you, and then you have the opportunity to testify yourself as to what happened. You are subject to cross examination from the judge or from the police officer, however you do not have to testify if you do not want to.
Can You Cross Examine The Officer and Negotiate Your Penalties Without a Lawyer?
You can. The only catch is that if you do cross examine the officer, you are subject to the exact same rules of evidence that an attorney would be subjected to. This means that if you ask a question that would not be allowed to be asked by an attorney, then it will not be allowed to be asked by you either, and it will not be admitted into evidence.
Additionally, you can also negotiate with the judge about your penalty but it is usually better left to a lawyer, because they are aware of the possible lesser offenses and what a good or bad penalty looks like. You do not want to go and negotiate with the judge about your penalty if the judge is already giving you a really great sentence.
Why Is Hiring A Lawyer Important For a Speeding Ticket Case?
It is important to seek an aggressive Virginia speeding ticket lawyer because there are a lot of little nuances to speeding ticket laws that a lawyer should know, and a good aggressive one will make sure that they tackles head on. You want someone who will cross examine the police officer and make them go through all the steps necessary to get a proper conviction. You want them to go through the calibration certificate and all these little details that may seem mundane, but can make a huge difference in the case if they are done improperly.
It is important to have someone who is willing to fight for your rights, is not afraid to stand up for you, and is not going to back down just because they do not want to confront the police officer.
What Happens if An Officer Does Not Have Their Report or Cannot Remember What Happened?
If the officer does not have their report or does not remember what happened then your attorney can ask for the case to be dismissed because the officer is unable to prove that you a’re guilty. If the officer is not there, the majority of the time their absence will be excused by the court as long as they called ahead. Usually, officers call ahead with a good excuse such as training or they are having a sick day, in which case the judge will continue the case on to another day so the officer can appear. However, if the officer has an unexcused absence, he does not show up for any unexcused reason, or nobody knows where he is, a lot of times the judge will dismiss the case for this.
How Do You Show The Judge Your Speedometer Was Calibrated?
To show that your speedometer was calibrated and tested, you have to have a document that shows that and you must introduce this document as evidence in your hearing when it is your turn to testify. A lawyer can help because there are some pretty strict rules of evidence regarding when documents are allowed to be introduced. Some judges are more strict than others and some will be a little bit more understanding in traffic cases than in criminal cases.
Sometimes judges will also be more understanding when you are pro se rather than with an attorney, but you always run the risk of having a judge that really is strict on how evidence is admitted and a lawyer can make sure that it is admitted properly so that all of your relevant evidence is considered by the court.