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  1. #1
    nattga is offline Junior Member
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    Exclamation First time in court: Need advice

    What is the name of your state? Georgia

    Okay, I've tried to read thru the forum to get general advice but got lost so I decide to post my own message.

    I was driving on I-85 behind the patrol unit for at least 15 minutes (seemed very long time) until my radar detector went off, so I moved over to very right lane just because I wanted to move away from him. Next thing i knew after i moved over, he was right behind and pulled me over.

    I'm 23 years old and recently got this ticket saying in the citation that I passed a marked unit and speeding 73 on 55 limit zone.


    I'd like to know how to negotiate for a lesser charge. I never been in court room before and not sure what to do or say without making myself look stupid. If one of youwere me, what would you do?
  2. #2
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Standard answer

    Here are some hints on appearing in court:

    Dress professionally in clean clothes.

    Do not wear message shirts.

    Don't chew gum, smoke, or eat.

    Bathe and wash your hair.

    Go to court beforehand some day before you actually have to go to watch how things go.

    Speak politely and deferentially. If you argue or dispute something, do it professionally and without emotion.

    Ask the court clerk who you talk to about a diversion (meaning you want to plead to a different, lesser charge), if applicable in your situation. Ask about traffic school and the ticket not go on your record, if applicable.


    Here are five stories that criminal court judges hear the most (and I suggest you do not use them or variations of them):

    1. I’ve been saved! (This is not religion specific; folks from all kinds of religious backgrounds use this one.)

    2. My girlfriend/mother/sister/daughter is pregnant/sick/dying/dead/crippled and needs my help.

    3. I’ve got a job in [name a state five hundred miles away].

    4. This is the first time I ever did this.

    5. You’ve got the wrong guy. (A variation of this one is the phantom defendant story: “It wasn’t me driving, it was a hitchhiker I picked up. He wrecked the car, drug me behind the wheel then took off.”)

    [url]http://forum.freeadvice.com/showthread.php?p=854687#post854687[/url]

    Public defender’s advice

    [url]http://newyork.craigslist.org/about/best/sfo/70300494.html[/url]


    Other people may give you other advice; stand by.
  3. #3
    nattga is offline Junior Member
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    Question Additional question

    And How would you initiate or mention about diversion or any other negotiation? Can I be straight forward and just ask the clerk?
  4. #4
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by nattga
    And How would you initiate or mention about diversion or any other negotiation? Can I be straight forward and just ask the clerk?
    Yes, asking would be a good thing. They are not mind readers.
  5. #5
    BackseatMom is offline Junior Member
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    First time in court…

    It was my first time in court too. I empathize with you. I can’t give you legal advice, but I can tell you what it was like in court for me on a personal level.

    Not sure if you know or not, but you go to court twice. I had no idea about this. First is your arraignment. This is when you go before the judge (just you and “her” in my case) and plea guilty to suggested ticket offense, or request a trial date. [There is an automatic fee if you handle your case by declaration. I didn’t want to pay anything, because I was not guilty of my ticket accusation. I believe a trial by declaration is a written account of your defense case read and decided by the judge.] Back to your first court date… During your arraignment is not the time for you to argue your case. It’s not a big nervous event either, because the judge will pretty much lead you with questions, where your choice of answers are… guilty=you pay fine without argument. No contest=guilty=you pay fine without argument. Not guilty=you request a trail date set where you will argue your case against the very police officer who issued your ticket. The officer is called the prosecution during your trial phase, and you are the defense. Also a little side note: You have to be present at both dates… arraignment date and trail date if you choose a trial. Your ticketing police officer is not present during your arraignment date when you plea. But… if your ticketing officer does not show up in court on the trail date, your case is dismissed! No fine.

    During both arraignment and trial… you will be called to come forward before the judge and instructed to stand to the left of table=defense. The officer as I said previously is in the prosecution role, and he stands to the right of table. Prosecution/police officer has the floor first during trial. He stands alone just as you do and explains the circumstances as he sees them. Then it is the defense’s turn. There are two phases to your side of argument.

    1. First phase. It is your right to ask questions of the prosecution/police officer. Be careful not to be accusatory, argumentative, or make rambling statements. You will be instructed by the judge (who by the way is just a person like you and I) that this is your time to “ask questions of the officer concerning accusations” made against you which resulted in your ticket.
    After you have asked your (should be limited and to the point) questions of the police officer, the judge will offer the prosecution/police officer time to respond if he has anything to add.

    2. Second phase. Then you will be asked by the judge if there is anything you would like her/him to know about your case. This is where you can make a pertinent statement and/or add anything that wasn’t covered in the questioning phase of the trail. Another side note: Anything you say during this proceeding can be used against you in the judge’s decision. I would suggest not being over talkative, as particulars might slip out where you might have been relieved of ticket this could cause you to get stuck with the ticket. I saw this a couple times in cases that went before mine. I also saw several times where the judge’s decision went against the police officer.

    My best advice from a novice… keep telling yourself this isn’t that big! Don’t be too relaxed or too nervous. Be serious, and yourself. Save your jumping up and down in relief for the court parking lot~~~ Have a few notes if you think you might become stage struck.

    Hope this helped a bit. Good luck.

    PS Something I didn’t know until after the fact… you have the right to “discovery.” This means, you can go to the ticketing officer’s PD and request a copy of his police report/information to see exactly what he wrote concerning your ticket and anything he documented that you may have said to him/her during the ticketing process so you are privy and able to argue knowledgeably on your behalf. I would think it is best to have a heads up and know what you are up against rather than wait for trail surprises, so you can form your case accordingly.
  6. #6
    nattga is offline Junior Member
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    Trail by Written Declaration

    I've heard about Trial by Written Declaration but don't know if it's applicable in State of Georgia? If I'm able to request the trial this way, then I don't need to show up in court for trial? Anyhow, I'm going to get the "Discovery request" before my first court date. I'd like to know what the police really says regarding this.

    Thank you,
    Natt
  7. #7
    nattga is offline Junior Member
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    About Written Declaration again

    If I request Trial by Written Declaration. Will the police write his own document or what if he just let his secretary writes one for him?
  8. #8
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by nattga
    If I request Trial by Written Declaration. Will the police write his own document or what if he just let his secretary writes one for him?
    My crystal ball is cloudy this morning....I will post back when it clears up.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  9. #9
    poohmantbb is offline Member
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    Secretary? Man, I'm working in the wrong place. I am pretty sure he will be writing on the back of his citation.
  10. #10
    CarrieT is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by BackseatMom
    It was my first time in court too. I empathize with you. I can’t give you legal advice, but I can tell you what it was like in court for me on a personal level..
    Ohhh thank you for taking the time to write this!! I go to court on Thursday for my ticket and Ive been nervous and not sure what to expect.
    Only one question.. you said that if the officer doesnt show up at the trial its dismissed. I had thought if he didnt show up at the first court appearance (the arraignment?) then it could be dismissed. Is that incorrect?
  11. #11
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    I had thought if he didnt show up at the first court appearance (the arraignment?) then it could be dismissed. Is that incorrect?

    You thought wrong.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  12. #12
    CarrieT is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge
    I had thought if he didnt show up at the first court appearance (the arraignment?) then it could be dismissed. Is that incorrect?

    You thought wrong.
    Ok.
    I was getting confused with all the articles and posts Ive read... as Ive never been to court before, and in fact, have not had a ticket since I first received my liscense.
    Thank you for clarifying
  13. #13
    BackseatMom is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarrieT
    Ohhh thank you for taking the time to write this!! I go to court on Thursday for my ticket and Ive been nervous and not sure what to expect.
    Only one question.. you said that if the officer doesnt show up at the trial its dismissed. I had thought if he didnt show up at the first court appearance (the arraignment?) then it could be dismissed. Is that incorrect?

    Your welcome CarrieT. That would be incorrect. The arraignment court date is set for you to enter your plea alone. The ticketing officer won't be in court during this phase, and you will not have an opportunity to dispute your case. Your name will be called, you'll go before the judge, plea, then the bailiff will give you a paper with your second court "trial" date. That's it for that court appearance. During my arraignment all I said was "not guilty."

    During arraignment if your plea is guilty or no contest... you accept the officer's accusation, and the fine will be set by the judge right then for said offense. The judge may also offer traffic school (at your cost) and "may" reduce your fine for first offense. You pay. Go to school. Case closed.

    You mentioned your citation stated that you "passed a marked unit speeding 73 on 55 limit zone." [As worded… this may appear as reckless disregard to the judge.] You might call the phone number on your ticket and ask the clerk what the cost of such a fine might be for a first offense. I did this with my ticket and she was quite helpful. Once your find out the $$$ of fine + traffic school + court costs you might wish to take your chances with a plea of not guilty. If found guilty during "trial" your costs will be the same as a guilty or no contest plea... but at least you have a chance to address incorrect accusations and express to the judge your views on what happened. And hope the officer won't show, causing a dismissal. I saw several speeding ticket offenses dismissed during my experience in court.

    Only when your plea is "not guilty" will a second court date be set. Only then can you dispute ticket accusations. It is during this court appearance the officer must be present. If the officer is not present during this court date "trial" your case will be dismissed.

    Knowledge is power!
  14. #14
    nattga is offline Junior Member
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    Red face

    Thank you for all the advices, I feel a bit more comfortable now about going to court.

    I've been trying to call the automated system but it said that I need special assistant and needed to call the clerk directly. I've been trying everyday and everytime, I was on hold for an hour so anyway, I'm going to the court tomorrow so I will just find out about my fine there. If it's not all that exepsnive, then I want to just pay the fine; however, I will talk to the court clerk to see if there is any way that it wouldn't get report to DMV or my insurance company because I REALLY don't want it to go up! We'll see tomorrow and I'll let y'all know

    Thanks again,
    Natt

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