What Happens in Traffic Court?

In most states, you have the right to fight a traffic ticket. While you will not receive a jury trial for a traffic citation, you can stand in front of a judge with a lawyer and fight the government’s evidence against you. If you are preparing for traffic court, here is what you need to know.

How Traffic Court Works

In traffic court, there are generally several cases per day. The clerk will call each case, which usually consists of the officer who issued the ticket and the driver. Now, if you show up and the officer does not show up, the judge will dismiss the ticket. However, if the officer does show up, then you will have a trial. Once the trial begins, you probably won’t have to go through opening statements. Judges like to jump straight into the argument and evidence.

What Your Trial Will Look Like

While everyone’s trial is different, there are a lot of similarities between cases that are heard in traffic court. Generally, the court will hear the government’s evidence against you. This is usually the testimony of the officer who issued the citation. In most states, you will not see a prosecutor in traffic court. Instead, the officer will either tell his side of the story or answer the judge’s questions.

If you have an attorney with you, he or she can also question the officer. Once the officer delivers his or her testimony, your attorney can conduct the cross-examination. Your attorney can also make objections during the testimony or towards any of the evidence that the government offers.

After all evidence on the government’s side has been presented, it is your turn to present evidence. You could testify yourself or if you have photo evidence that could help prove your case, this is when you show it. For instance, if you were charged with running a stop sign, but there was foliage blocking the stop sign from view, you will want to show a picture of the sign and foliage.

When it comes to trials, traffic court is one of the least formal. This does not mean that the rules of evidence do not apply or that your evidence won’t matter. You have every right to fight a ticket. At the end of the trial, traffic court judges do not usually hear closing arguments. Instead, they make judgments based on the evidence. If you are considering contesting a traffic ticket, it can help to contact a criminal defense lawyer from a law firm like Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for a consultation.