If you received a traffic ticket, you are probably wondering what your options are. It is important to have all the facts in front of you so you can make the right decision. A court appearance might be required, or it might not be. That should be the first thing you determine. It may also be a good idea to speak with a traffic attorney to get more information about your case specifically.
You have three options after receiving a ticket:
- Pay the ticket
- Appear at your arraignment and plead guilty
- Contest the ticket
If the ticket specifies that a court appearance is mandatory, then you do not have the option to simply pay the ticket. Otherwise, you can admit guilt immediately and pay the ticket online or by mail. If you do this, you are done with the process.
If you choose to go to your arraignment, then you will have the option to enter a plea. At your arraignment, there will likely be many other people handing tickets of their own. The cases are usually taken in alphabetical order. When it is your turn, you will approach the podium and a few things will be explained to you. Then, you can either plead “guilty” and immediately pay the fine, or “not guilty.” If you plead “not guilty,” a date will be determined for your trial.
Even if it is not mandatory that you attend your arraignment, you still may want to because judges commonly reduce the fine at this time. You can think of it as taking a chance at paying less. This is the time where you can plead your case and request s reduction as well.
The Court Trial
If you plead not guilty, you must appear in court a second time at a later date. If you go for this option, it is a good idea to hire an attorney or discuss your case with one. The officer who issued the ticket is required to come to this trial, and if he or she does not then chances are good that the case will be dismissed immediately. This is actually a common occurrence, and many people plead not guilty simply in the hopes that the officer will not show up. If the trial proceeds, however, you will have a chance to make your case and then the judge will make a ruling based on the evidence. Your trial will also likely occur alongside many other people’s trials in alphabetical order.