I was able to convince the prosecutor to transfer the misdemeanor charge of Vehicle Code Section 12500, driving without a license, to a traffic court. This meant that the charge was reduced to an infraction, saving my client from a misdemeanor conviction on his record. Traffic tickets are costly–your insurance premium could be increased, the D.M.V. could suspend your license or you could be criminally prosecuted and a conviction will be reflected accordingly on your record.
In most states, a courtesy notice is mailed to you and contains information about options available for resolving the ticket such as the amount of bail, proof of corrections for mechanical violations, traffic school eligibility or mandatory court appearance. Failure to appear or resolve a citation prior to the due date may result in a DMV hold which restricts your driving privileges and/or ability to register the vehicle or an arrest warrant. The citation may also be referred to a collection agency.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney at these proceedings. In fact, I had advised my client that rather than spending the money fixing the mechanical violations which would have meant a great deal of money, it was fiscally more prudent to file a non-operational form with the DMV. I provided this form to the judge and he dismissed the 2 “fix-it” violations. As for the license issue, the judge fined him PHP 4,536.97 plus penalties and no criminal conviction will be on his record.
Many litigants will request the advice of court clerks. However, court clerks are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. Why? The clerk is not an attorney at law. The clerical staff is trained to accept papers for filing and has no expertise in the legal consequences of information. My client could not afford to have a criminal conviction especially since he has just filed for citizenship. Clerks are not made aware of such issues nor are they skilled to advice you of the possible outcome of pleading to the charges.
I had a client who wanted to appeal a traffic court decision since his driving record needed to be pristine since he was a truck driver. An appeal is possible but procedural requirements must be fulfilled such as filing a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the ruling. A Proposed Statement of Appeal must be filed within 15 days after filing the Notice of Appeal. A Hearing to Settle Statement on Appeal will be heard, generally by the same judge who made the prior ruling. It is critical to have new facts or evidence not previously heard or new law not introduced to successfully win an appeal. It is a tough battle but one that can be won with an experienced attorney on your side.