How do I fight a traffic ticket in Atlanta?

shutterstock_112401383It is possible to win a traffic ticket trial in Atlanta.  However, you do not want to start a trial without researching your options well in advance.  The first thing you should know is that for most traffic offenses, including speeding tickets and stop sign violations, it is possible (however not likely) that you could be facing up to 12 months in jail if you are convicted.  If you are unfamiliar with the sentencing practices of your Judge, or not sure about your driving history, you may want to consult an attorney about what could happen after the trial if the Judge convicts you.

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shutterstock_117289042Many people assume that if your officer is not present at your first court date, then your ticket will be automatically dismissed.  This is rarely true in Atlanta.  For the most part, your first appearance is your arraignment, which is an opportunity for you to tell the Judge and prosecutor whether you intend to enter a plea of guilty, or not guilty.  If you enter a plea of not guilty, you will often have the option (for most traffic offenses) of choosing a bench trial (judge trial) or a jury trial.  If you choose a jury trial, your case will be transferred to Fulton County State Court (or in some instances DeKalb County State Court if your stop was in DeKalb County) for a jury trial.

shutterstock_184839455If you request a bench trial, you will be prompted to sign a waiver of jury trial.  If you sign this form, you are waiving your right to transfer your case to Fulton County State Court (or DeKalb State Court).  You may want to familiarize yourself with your Judge’s sentencing practices before waiving your right to transfer the case to State Court.

Once you have submitted your waiver of a jury trial, you will likely be given a trial date.  This will be the date that the witness will have to appear for.  In most standard traffic stops the witness is the police officer.  If the officer is not present at that date, then the Judge may grant your motion to dismiss the ticket.  Keep in mind however that the Judge could decide to reset your case to a future trial date in order to give the prosecutor another opportunity to get the witness to court.

shutterstock_225243235If the consequences of a speeding ticket are critical to you, such as you are a commercial driver with a CDL or you are worried about a license suspension, you should contact me to discuss your options.I am an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney. It is very dangerous to attempt to navigate the intricacies of a bench or jury trial without first consulting a professional.

 

Can I fight my traffic accident ticket in Atlanta Municipal Court?

When you are involved in a traffic accident in Atlanta, the investigating agency (often Atlanta Police Department) will issue a ticket to both drivers.  If no one has been seriously injured, very few measurements, or technical procedures are involved in the accident investigation.  A report is generated that includes a diagram (not drawn to scale) and a summary of what the drivers reported.

You may disagree with the conclusions in the accident report.  In fact, it is common for both drivers to disagree with the investigating officer’s report.  This can be quite frustrating because insurance companies often rely, at least in part, on that report.

When you challenge an accident ticket in Atlanta Municipal Court, you will be assigned to a Judge who may, or may not decide to schedule your bench trial on the first appearance.  Unless you are familiar with each Judge and their regular scheduling practices you likely will not know whether this will happen until you appear.

The primary witness in many accident cases is the other driver.  You may assume that the officer who issued the ticket will have to appear.  This is not necessarily the case.  Unless the officer actually witnessed the driving, he may not be needed in order for the prosecutor to go forward with the case.  However, the prosecutor will need a witness.  If the other driver is not there, it may be a good opportunity to move forward with the trial.  Depending on the Judge and the facts of your case, you could be successful.  Keep in mind though, that the prosecutor can always request a reset to get the witness to court.

If you would like to have the officer present, you can secure his/her presence by serving him/her with a subpoena.  The Clerk’s office at the court can provide you with such a subpoena, but you will need set that up in advance of your court date.

If you truly want to contest your ticket, you would be best served to consult an attorney.  You may be eligible for a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to hire your own.  Almost all offenses are punishable by some jail sentence, and you should proceed with extreme caution before electing to go forward with trial.

Do I have to disclose my DUI arrest on my job application?

If you are interviewing for a new job, you want to be careful about how you answer any questions regarding your arrest.  Often, an incorrect answer can automatically disqualify you from being considered for the new position.  Although your case has not yet been resolved, there is a record of your Georgia arrest.  Your company may have access to this record, depending on the type of criminal background check being conducted,   Before submitting any responses regarding your arrest, contact your attorney to be sure that your answers are accurate.