Moving Violation - Do I have to go to Court?

Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2011 by Ed Harper

I’m often asked by client’s or prospective clients regarding a traffic violation – “Do I have to go to Court to contest the ticket?” Answer in most cases is yes even if the police officer told you otherwise and court clerk told you to show up in court.

It is likely the police officer mentioned you would not have to show up – if you paid the fine and did not contest the ticket. There are a variety of options to choose from in responding to the citation – 1. acceptance of the violation and payment of the fine; 2. accept the violation but make an attempt to mitigate the severity of the penalty; and 3. contest the violation.

You would have to show up in court for #2 and #3. The police officer may have just advised you of the first option – that you would not have to show up if you agreed to pay the fine and agreed to the violation.

Additionally, as the clerk cannot give you legal advice, they could only tell you to explain the circumstances of the ticket and any attempt to reduce the fine would have to go to the judge. I always advise my clients to go to the hearings and if nothing else make an attempt to reduce or mitigate the ticket. Judges are often willing to make some sort of reduction when the person has shown some good faith in coming to court and explaining the situation.

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