Whether you were caught speeding in a school zone, slipping through a halfway red light, or charged with a more serious offense, your first thought was most likely “I’m fighting this. I will see you in court!”
We’ve all been there.
But as the court date approaches, and random acquaintances regale us with stories about their own fateful, disappointing days in traffic court, we start to think we might be better off paying the ticket and driving a bit more carefully. At DLE Legal, we’ve heard a litany of horror stories.
Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown that keeps us away from traffic court. Will the judge be mean? Will I be thrown into jail? Do I need an attorney? (Remember what Abraham Lincoln said: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”)
We thought we’d share what we know about traffic court so that the next time you get pulled over, you’ll know the unknowns and make a solid decision of whether or not to fight the ticket. Here are a few of them:
- Listen for your case to be called. Approach the front of the courtroom and listen for the judge’s guidance on where to make your presentation.
- In Florida, the state carries the burden of proving the case against you. If there is no one to testify against you, the judge must throw out the matter.
- In South Florida, the first hearing is called a pre-trial hearing and it doesn’t require that the police officer attends. So don’t get too excited that you’ve already won; the courts are counting on the fact that you won’t want to return for more and resolve your case on the spot.
- There will probably not be a court reporters present, but a digital or electronic recording of the case will be taken. We wish we could be there for you, but you’re going to do great.
- No matter how compelling your version of the story may be, the courts usually side with the police officer. We’re sorry to tell you, but the statistics are not on your side. So weigh the loss of time and energy attending court hearings with your actual chance of winning your case.
See? Not so scary, is it? For more specific information on traffic and parking issues in Miami-Dade, here’s a helpful link. And if you ever find yourself in need of a court reporting or process serving team to help you with a case, we at DLE Legal are happy to help.