How do you know what you know? That's a line from a song written by balladeer Michael Johnson. As we wrote in a post in January, one of the biggest issues anyone in Virginia facing a traffic citation likely has is that they don't know what they don't know about the legal nuances involved.
Receiving a ticket might seem rather minor on the face of things. It can be an easy decision just to pay the penalty associated with the alleged offense and move on. Maybe you feel guilty of something and feel lucky you weren't cited for something worse. It's fair to ask whether it's worth it to fight the accusation. Since you might not know what the full ramifications might be from pleading guilty, checking with an attorney first is a wise move.
As we noted in the previous post, there can be a lot at stake and knowledge is power. So, let's imagine that you have determined that there is a basis to challenge a citation. What are the possible strategies for mounting a viable defense?
It's always important to remember that how you fight a ticket depends on the details of your specific situation. In some cases, the way the system works may work in your favor.
For example, the accused has a right to face his or her accuser. If you take the ticket to court and the officer doesn't show, the judge often will dismiss the charge. There are some strategies that you might be able to use to increase the chances of an officer no-show.
Many jurisdictions have started to turn to camera enforcement as a way to save money. Just because authorities can say they have your vehicle on camera violating a traffic law doesn't mean they have a slam-dunk case.
Very often, the images don't get from camera to court so there is no evidence. Even if an officer appears to testify, you might be able to say the officer didn't directly observe the alleged infraction, making the testimony hearsay. Maybe you weren't even behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time.
Whatever the circumstances in your case, you don't want to walk blindly through the legal process.