Many people assume that when they receive a traffic violation ticket that they are guilty of an offense. Fortunately, this is not how the law works. The law cannot presume that a driver has committed an offense. In every situation, you have the choice to request a hearing in court where you can present evidence arguing why you are not responsible for paying the ticket.
A Columbia traffic lawyer could assist you in requesting these hearings and appear in person to contest the findings. This can include requesting a mitigation hearing in an attempt to receive a lesser penalty or contesting the ticket in its entirety as a way to avoid any liability. There is a short time after receiving a ticket within which you must request a hearing. Contacting a trustworthy defense attorney immediately gives them the best chance to help you.
The law never presumes that a defendant is guilty of an offense. This even applies to seemingly minor offenses such as traffic tickets. Allegations such as speeding, running a red light, and driving without proper lights are all matters for a criminal court. As such, the prosecutor in the case always bears the burden of proving these concepts beyond a reasonable doubt.
One common reason to contest a traffic ticket is the idea that a prosecutor may not be able to prove their case. A Columbia traffic violation attorney could cross-examine the police officer who issued the ticket or present evidence that helps to demonstrate a driver’s innocence.
Requesting a hearing could also lessen the potential penalties associated with a conviction. For example, South Carolina Code § 56-5-1520 says that an instance of speeding may result in a fine of up to $75. Filing for a mitigation hearing could see a judge reduce this fine, allow a driver to attend an education course, or a combination of the two. This could result in a dismissal of the ticket, and an avoidance of points on an individual’s driver’s license or insurance rate hikes.
All drivers have the opportunity to contest a traffic ticket. For some, this process is mandatory because the alleged offense requires the driver to appear in court. For others, they have the option to request a hearing.
For drivers with the choice, they have 15 days from the date of the citation to return the ticket to the court. When returning the ticket, drivers must indicate that they are requesting a formal session to defend against the charges. When the court receives this notice, it will issue a formal date for a preliminary hearing. By pleading “not guilty” during this hearing, the driver is requesting a formal trial to decide the matter.
This trial is the sole opportunity to contest the ticket. A traffic lawyer in Columbia is prepared to take the lead during these trials. They have the ability to cross-examine any government witnesses, such as police officers, and could evaluate the steps and methods that the officer made during the traffic stop.
Drivers do not have to accept a traffic ticket if they believe they did nothing wrong. In nearly every situation, you have the opportunity to contest a police officer’s findings and present your own evidence in court. Whether a traffic ticket requires you to appear in court or gives you the option of contesting, a Columbia traffic lawyer could provide valuable help.
A lawyer could help file a formal request in court within the 15-day time limit and could appear in person to demand a formal trial. Finally, they could defend your actions during the full trial and cross-examine police officers on the stand, with the hope of avoiding heavy fines, additional points on your license, and jail sentences. Call now to learn what your options are.