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  1. #1
    Skyfire79 is offline Junior Member
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    Can police officer change the charge of a traffic ticket suddently in trial?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? New York

    My wife got a traffic ticket and she pleads not guilty. The police officer told her privately that if she pleads not guilty, he will dismiss the original ticket of "disobeying traffic control device" and issue a new ticket of "passing a stopped school bus" in trial. He said he already gave my wife a break by not issuing �passing a stopped school bus� ticket initially. The latter one will cost more fine and points if convicted. We watched a trial later on and the same police officer did submit a new charge for the defendant who pleaded not guilty, but I did not follow how the judge deals with the new charge. Does the police officer have the right to change the charge suddenly during the trial? How will the judge consider this? Thank you!
  2. #2
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyfire79 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? New York

    My wife got a traffic ticket and she pleads not guilty. The police officer told her privately that if she pleads not guilty, he will dismiss the original ticket of "disobeying traffic control device" and issue a new ticket of "passing a stopped school bus" in trial. He said he already gave my wife a break by not issuing �passing a stopped school bus� ticket initially. The latter one will cost more fine and points if convicted. We watched a trial later on and the same police officer did submit a new charge for the defendant who pleaded not guilty, but I did not follow how the judge deals with the new charge. Does the police officer have the right to change the charge suddenly during the trial? How will the judge consider this? Thank you!
    What you would like to hear is that once the officer cited your wife for a specific traffic infraction, he or she was forbidden from amending the citation.

    That would be tantamount to prohibiting a prosecutor from tendering a plea bargain to an accused felon. And/or a defense attorney doing so on behalf of his or her client.

    So you aint going to hear what you want to hear it from this quarter. Plus I'm confident that if the officer elected to reduce the charge there would be no complaining.

    ___________________

    Incidentally, is your wife colorblind? Like she cant see a huge yellow bus flashing multiple red lights?! Or was she too busy text messaging her coiffeur?

    __________________

    And next time you post in here please try to fit the heading of the question to reflect its content without self-serving embellishments.

    There is nothing in the body of your post indicating that the officer amended the charge during a trial. Neither suddenly nor otherwise!

    Your wife appeared to enter a plea. And she was certainly free to plead not guilty to any amended charge.
  3. #3
    Skyfire79 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you very much for your response, Latigo!

    My wife did not see any school bus on the road before the police officer stopped her. Neither was her friend who was on her car. That is why my wife feel so upset and want to confront the ticket. Btw, her eyes are absolutely normal. The police officer told her that a similar car had passed the school bus several times before based on the school bus driver. But my wife absolutely did not do that and she seldom drove on that road before (she was helping her friend for shopping that day).

    On Tuesday this week we went to court for a pre-trial conference and my wife pleaded not guilty. Then we saw the police officer who issued her the ticket. He called us out of the courtroom and talked to us. He said he already gave my wife a break by issuing a ticket of "disobeying traffic control device." If we really go to court for a trial, he will dismiss the original ticket and issue a new ticket of "passing a stopped school bus". The latter one will cost more fine and points (5 points vs. 2 points). He also wanted us to check with the judge to find out the fine structure. What he meant was that my wife had better plead guilty before the trial. Otherwise, she will face a bigger ticket. Also, he said he will find the school bus driver and a witness to testify. I guess he wanted to intimidate us.

    Later on, we watched a trial to get familiar with the trial procedures. It seemed that the same officer added a new charge to the defendant who pleaded not guilty. But I just did not follow how the judge deal with the new charge. I only heard conviction on the original charge.

    Now we are really worried that the police officer will issue a new ticket to my wife, which will carry more fine and more points if convicted. That is why I asked whether the police officer actually can change the original charge to a more serious charge. If so, how will the judge consider that? We know little about law and are not native in English. So we are wondering whether my wife should change her plea from not guilty to guilty in order to avoid a larger fine and point. Anyway, we don't think we have much chance to win.

    Another thing is that my wife's friend is not in town, so she cannot go to court to testify. If my wife really goes to a trial, can we ask her friend to provide a written statement? Or can she call in during the trial to testify?

    Thank you very much again!

    Best,
    GL
  4. #4
    HighwayMan is offline Senior Member
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    Your wife's friend's testimony would not be given that much weight since she's a biased witness.

    What is happening to you is perfectly legal and judges certainly do not have any issue with it.

    I doubt the officer just imagined that the school bus was there and that your wife passed it. She got a big break - the points and fine are much higher for a school bus violation than for the 1110a (traffic control device). I believe the mandatory minimum fine for the school bus is $300 plus the $85 surcharge. And that's a minimum. You already know it's five points.

    The traffic control device is a minor infraction. I would consider it a gift.
  5. #5
    Skyfire79 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighwayMan View Post
    Your wife's friend's testimony would not be given that much weight since she's a biased witness.

    What is happening to you is perfectly legal and judges certainly do not have any issue with it.

    I doubt the officer just imagined that the school bus was there and that your wife passed it. She got a big break - the points and fine are much higher for a school bus violation than for the 1110a (traffic control device). I believe the mandatory minimum fine for the school bus is $300 plus the $85 surcharge. And that's a minimum. You already know it's five points.

    The traffic control device is a minor infraction. I would consider it a gift.
    Yes, you are right: the points and fine are much higher for a school bus violation than for a traffic control device violation. After careful consideration, we have decided to change our plea from "not guilty" to "guilty". But we are also surprised that the police officer can actually change a traffic ticket to a more serious charge on the trial date if the defendant pleas not guilty to confront him. Thank you, HighwayMan!
  6. #6
    HighwayMan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyfire79 View Post
    But we are also surprised that the police officer can actually change a traffic ticket to a more serious charge on the trial date if the defendant pleas not guilty to confront him.
    It's not changing the charge really. He would dismiss the charge and then re-issue the ticket for a different infraction. As long as it is within one year of the violation date then it's perfectly legal.
  7. #7
    Skyfire79 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighwayMan View Post
    It's not changing the charge really. He would dismiss the charge and then re-issue the ticket for a different infraction. As long as it is within one year of the violation date then it's perfectly legal.
    Got it. Thanks!

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