Did you get a traffic ticket and have an upcoming date in court? If so, you'll want to know what your plea options are and what they mean.
A Not Guilty Plea
The judge is going to ask you to make a plea in regards to the traffic violation that you are being accused of. A plea of not guilty means that you are not admitting to the violation and are asking to settle the matter in a trial. You will be given the option to have a bench trial or a jury trial to settle the matter.
If you select a bench trial, it is very possible that the trial will happen the same day, but it may be scheduled for a later date as well if you need to gather exhibits or request witnesses for the trial. The judge will hear your case and likely make a ruling on the very same day when you are done making your arguments. A jury trial can also be requested, which will happen on another day so that a jury can be assembled. It is very similar to a bench trial, except that you have a jury of your peers making a decision on your case.
Be aware that not returning to court for your trial will result in waiving your rights, and you will likely be convicted of the traffic violation.
A Guilty Plea
A guilty plea is an admission to the violation, and you will be given a sentence from the judge. The judge typically has some discretion regarding the fine that you will be given, but your state may have minimum fines that cannot be waived for minor violations. In addition, you may have to pay for court costs for your appearance.
A judge may also give you an order or supervision, which prevents the violation from going on your record. There are typically requirements regarding an order of supervision, such as attending traffic school or not receiving further traffic violations for a set period of time.
A Plea of Continuance
A plea of continuance is essentially asking for another court date, which the judge may or may not grant you. You typically need a good reason to request a continuance, and you can have a lawyer attend court for you to give the plea. For example, you may be injured and unable to attend court, not in town, or unavailable for some other reason.
If you need help with a traffic violation, contact a traffic law attorney.