FIGHTING A TICKET ON LONG ISLAND OR UPSTATE
On Long Island and in Upstate New York, tickets are adjudicated in town courts. Some of these courts are large and process a large volume of traffic tickets and other matters, such as the Nassau County Traffic & Parking Violations Agency or the Suffolk County Traffic & Parking Violations Agency. But most are small, local courts that handle municipal disputes, such as parking tickets and minor criminal matters.
What Happens After You Get a Ticket in a Town Court
The summons may include a return date or a court date. A return date is the deadline by which the driver must either plead guilty and pay the ticket or request a hearing date. A court date can either mean a date for trial or a date for a preliminary conference, where the prosecutor may choose to offer a plea bargain.
Almost every local court offers the option of plea bargaining. This is the major difference between town courts and the Traffic Violations Bureau.
A "plea bargain" means that the accused agrees to plead guilty to a lesser violation than the original charge. For example, if the driver is given a six-point speeding ticket, it is possible that the prosecutor will offer a plea bargain to reduce the charge to a two-point traffic device ticket.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
In short, it depends.
Some courts will require you make a personal appearance. Others may allow you to handle the ticket by mail.
If you choose to have a trial, the prosecutor will state the case against you. The police officer may come to court to testify. You will have the chance to cross examine the officer. The prosecutor will do the same. Then the judge will decide whether the case has been established. e advised that once you get to this point, you have abandoned your chance for a reduction. You are either winning and getting zero points, or losing and getting the points connected with the ticket.
How Do I Know if I Got a Good Deal?
If you get no points on a ticket that carries points, you should be happy.
Otherwise, the simple truth is that you cannot know for sure if you have been offered a plea bargain you should accept. An attorney will know if this offer is satisfactory, or if you can push for a better deal -- and if so, how.
How Do I Get a Good Plea Bargain?
Every court is different. The judge and prosecutor in one town may have different priorities than the judge and prosecutor in the next town over.
The following factors may be considered:
*Your driving record. Some courts will request a driving abstract. If you have a bad driving record, you will find it more difficult to reach a suitable plea bargain. This is subjective. If the prosecutor has your abstract, she will see your entire driving record, including all of your traffic convictions, suspensions, revocations, and criminal charges such as DUI's.
*The seriousness of the charge. Some courts will not offer plea bargains for high-point violations, such as eight- and eleven-point speeds.
*The unique facts of your ticket. If you were involved in an accident, for example, the prosecutor may decline to offer a reduction.
Can't I Do This on My Own? Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
If you have a good driving record and were issued an unremarkable two-point ticket, then yes, there is a good chance that you can represent yourself in a town court and be satisfied with the outcome.
If you have a bad driving record, if you are facing a serious charge, or if you drive for a living, you might be better served hiring a lawyer.
What Can An Attorney Do That I Cannot?
You've heard the phrase, "He who represents himself has a fool for a client." As the defendant, you are personally invested in the case. You may be prone to be upset, emotional or irrational. You may be more inclined to yell at the police officer or the judge. You might question the officer's perception or judgment, which may make him heated. A testy exchange rarely ends well for the defendant in traffic court.
An attorney knows when to push for a better deal. He knows when to step back and accept the deal on the table. In general, with an attorney, the process is more orderly and streamlined. This puts both the prosecutor and judge at ease. They are working, after all, and they appreciate routine and predictability. And there is a good chance that the judge and prosecutor both know, and like, your attorney, from having worked with him before. If the judge and prosecutor are on your side, you are likely to get a good result. .