Virginia Speeding Ticket Cases in Court
If you have received a speeding ticket in Virginia and are interested in challenging you ticket in court, the following is what you should expect from the court room process according to a Virginia speeding ticket lawyer. For legal representation or to learn more about contesting a speeding ticket, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
Do You Need to Show Up To Court For a Speeding Ticket?
In Virginia you’re not required to show up to court for a speeding ticket if you wish to plead guilty to the charge. If this is the case then you can prepay the fine and your plea will be entered as guilty. With that said, however, it’s often better for you to not do that because, even if you are pleading guilty, it is possible to argue sentencing, which can result in a lower fine. In contrast, reckless driving tickets are misdemeanors, which means that you have to appear in court to answer for the charges regardless of whether you plan on pleading guilty or not guilty.
What Court Will a Speeding Ticket Be Heard In?
Speeding tickets in Virginia are heard in the General District Court. Some of the general district courts have different rooms for traffic and for criminal and some of them just put everything together. But in general, it will be in the General District Court.
Court Process For a Speeding Ticket in Virginia
When you arrive in the morning, you should check in with the clerks’ office, if necessary. Some courts don’t require this so you can just find your case on the docket, go to the listed courtroom and sit down to patiently wait for your case to be called.
If you have an attorney, some jurisdictions will require your attorney to sign in for you and generally the attorney cases will be called with more priority. This again is not the case in every jurisdiction. Some of them are completely random and you could be waiting some time.
Your case will be heard in front of everybody else in the same courtroom and you will get the opportunity to listen to everybody else’s case. It’s certainly not a private matter at all. The people involved when you are called up by the judge will just be the judge, who is deciding ultimately what happens, you, your attorney, if you have one, and the officer. Prosecutors are not involved in traffic cases because they’re not jail-able offenses, unless they rise to the level of misdemeanors or felonies, in which case some of them will have prosecutors and some of them will not. The judge typically first will ask how you plead whether guilty, not guilty or no contest which you are required to answer obviously because if you don’t then the court doesn’t know what next steps to take.
After this the police officer will give his testimony as to what happened and if you choose to do so, you can cross examine him, or your attorney can, and then the floor switches over to the defense to give their own evidence. The defense is not obligated to present any evidence or say anything whatsoever because the burden of proof is on the other side.
What Are Some General Defenses For Exceeding The Speed Limit?
One of the strongest defenses for exceeding the speed limit is an emergency situation. Generally if someone can prove that the only reason they were speeding was due to an emergency and they were trying to prevent the loss of life, limb or property, then it’s likely that the offense will be excused. Another defense that is commonly used is that their speedometer was not properly working and they weren’t aware of this. This defense works sometimes, as long as it wasn’t an egregious speed. If the speed was not too far from the speed limit, then showing proof to the judge of an improperly calibrated speedometer could be enough to have the charge reduced or dismissed.