An Attorney for a Ticket?
Traffic tickets in California can come with steep fines and penalty assessments. When coupled with long-term effects on your insurance rates, a simple traffic ticket can be a very costly mistake you'll pay for over years. Needless to say, getting a ticket is stressful, and you might want to learn about your rights.
One of your most important rights regarding traffic tickets is the right to contest them.
You can deal with a California traffic ticket a few ways. If it was a simple traffic citation (i.e. an infraction), you can pay the ticket and be done with it. In doing so, however, you are admitting guilt. Admitting guilt can do two things. First, car insurance companies can use it against you and raise your rates. Second, you could face civil liability if you admit guilt for a traffic ticket and someone tries to sue you.
Alternatively, you could choose to fight the ticket. If you want to fight your ticket, whether or not you need an attorney depends on the type of ticket, the circumstances surrounding the ticket, and what is at stake.
Types of Tickets
As stated above, simple traffic citations are considered infractions and not true criminal charges. They are punishable by a fine and no jail time. These can be handled in traffic court. You can also contest them by trial and even appeal the decision. Many people don't care about a traffic ticket on their driving record. But some, especially those with driving points on their record or are on probation through the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), may want to take their case to trial.
Criminal vehicle code violations—such as DUI and hit and run—are considered criminal charges. Criminal charges are handled by the criminal court, but driving crime offenses will be reported to the DMV. Both the court and the DMV can take action against your driving privileges for a driving crime conviction or even arrest in some cases. Driving crime offenses can even be charged as felonies in some cases.
Consider these factors when facing your ticket. Is it an infraction that will result in a fine? Or is it a misdemeanor or felony handled in the criminal court? In both cases, you will benefit from the legal advice of an attorney. You have a right to legal representation when facing traffic citations and criminal citations, and you should exercise it.
The Circumstances of the Offense
Context can make a big difference in your case. If you caused an accident and injured someone while you were speeding (for example), you should definitely speak with an attorney. Injuring someone in an at-fault accident will add some points to your record and could even result in criminal charges. Even if you were speeding on your way to the hospital because your wife was going in labor, you will need an attorney to argue in your favor given the context. This might require producing evidence or even bringing in witnesses to provide testimony.
What's at Stake?
This factor should be considered above all else. What could happen if you lost your case? Would you lose your license, pay higher insurance premiums, or even go to jail? Do you already have several points on your driving record? If so, the DMV can suspend your license or put you on probation if you lose your case. Do you have prior offenses? If you do, you should speak with an attorney about how that could affect your case. Your decision to hire an attorney to help you with your case should be based on what an attorney could save you. A good attorney can work to keep your driving record clean and your license valid.
The basic takeaway here is you have a right to legal representation for a reason. Interpreting and applying the law in unique cases can be so complex that the government finds it unfair to deny someone the right to legal advice. The government even provides some defendants facing criminal charges with counsel free or at a reduced cost because we all deserve to exercise that right even if we can't afford to. Take this right seriously, and speak with an experienced California driving crime defense attorney whenever facing traffic tickets or criminal vehicle code violations to learn about your rights and your options for handling your case.
Do you want to avoid getting a ticket? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Specializing in driving crime defense, Mr. Martens can take immediate action in your case to defend your rights and your license. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has taken over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.