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WHAT IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY TO A TRAFFIC VIOLATION?
Lately, I noticed more and more cars pulled over by a police officer both on the Garden State Parkway and local roads. I always say, Thank goodness that wasn’t me. What would you do if that was you? Would you accept the ticket, pay the fines, and go on your merry way? Or would you want an alternative?
Although most New Jersey traffic and driving charges aren’t criminal charges, they have consequences depending on the number of violations you have already incurred. If this violation stacks up against a few others, you may face jail time, lose your license, and have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges. If you plead guilty and pay the ticket, you suffer all consequences to the conviction. Click here for more detailed information.
There are other choices:
- You can challenge the ticket before pleading guilty,
- You can hire an experienced traffic attorney to represent you,
- And you have an opportunity to get the charges dismissed or reduced.
You can also fight the ticket yourself, but you must be prepared by researching the violation and learning how the courts have previously interpreted the statutory provision. There are steps to take when doing this [refer to book] and it’s not that easy. You should realize that it’s the State’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions fall within the boundaries of each violation. You must review all the evidence from the State, evaluate any weak points, and file all the appropriate motions in order to position yourself really well for the defense. The first questions is: Do you really have time for this? The second question is: Are you sure you are qualified to represent yourself?
What if you plead guilty to the charges? If you plead guilty, you are subject to substantial fines and penalties, points on your license, insurance surcharges, suspension of driving privileges, community service, and jail time. This is a very serious matter. Most courts will provide an installment plan to pay your fines, but they may also require a down payment right after sentencing. Conviction of any Municipal Court offense may also have a negative impact on your employment prospects or on your immigration status.
What if you hire an experienced traffic attorney? There are several steps your attorney will take in helping you fight your traffic violation.
- He will meet with you and any witnesses.
- He will gather and analyze all available facts and information, including police reports, witness statements, government records and documents, and a review of the scene of the alleged violation.
- He will prepare a legal statement by studying the law and previous court decisions that may apply to the law, then present this to the judge.
- He will offer options to you and recommend the best one.
- He will prepare any legal documents to be used in court.
- He will negotiate a plea agreement on your behalf.
- He will present your side of the case, present any witnesses, cross-examine the State’s witnesses, including the police, expert witnesses, and fact witnesses.
- He will obtain a civil reservation, which prevents a guilty plea from being used against you in a subsequent civil proceeding.
- He will appeal the court’s decision if there is a conviction.
Does that look like a lot of work? It is for you, but it’s standard procedure for a qualified, experienced traffic attorney. You must ask questions BEFORE you hire an attorney. Be sure that he or she is competent before you appear in court! For more information on our services and how we can help you, log onto [web address] and find out your best options.
The choice is yours: pay the ticket and fines, defend yourself, or hire an experienced traffic attorney to represent you.