So you got a traffic ticket and want to fight it yourself. You don’t want or need some fancy lawyer doing the talking for you. Besides, who knows more about what happened when you got pulled over, you or the lawyer?
Believe me, I understand the anger and frustration and the need for justice that is coursing through your veins. I can also understand the need to attempt to do something yourself and the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with it.
We’ve all tried to “fix” something ourselves before breaking down and calling a professional? And although you never went to law school, how hard can it be? You’ve seen a few shows on TV with lawyers. You just stand up there and tell the judge what happened, right? Well. . .how do I answer that question delicately? Lean close, I don’t want you to miss it. . . here it comes.
NO! Do not start telling the judge what happened.
Here are 3 huge mistakes I see people make in traffic court.
Failing to Prepare
Failing to Listen when they are waiting in court
Talking too much
Failing to prepare is without a question the number one worst thing you can do. To read more about the importance of preparing for your trial, please read my post on how to beat a traffic ticket in court. I will summarize that post by saying it is much more complicated than telling the judge why you feel the police officer was wrong to give you the ticket, and only by preparing will you be able to intelligently make an argument that sounds more like someone who deserves a dismissal and less like someone complaining or making excuses.
The next mistake I see all the time are people who fail to pay attention to everything going on and fail to listen when someone else’s case is being heard. Especially if an attorney is talking. The chances are pretty high that the attorney is talking about the exact same type of case you have. What better opportunity will you have to pick up some “free legal advice” about your case? You might be able to make the same argument the attorney made when it’s your turn. Yet, I see people on their phones, talking to their neighbor, or just staring off into space instead of listening.
You’ve heard the expression “you have two ears and one mouth, that’s so you can listen twice as much as you speak.” Listen, listen, listen, and when it’s your turn to speak. . . whatever you do, DON’T TALK TOO MUCH. And that is the other big mistake I see people make.
By preparing, you will know what you were charged with and what the elements that must be proven against you. By listening, you will hear whether the police officer properly informed the judge about your case, and by only talking about what is absolutely necessary, you will stand a chance of getting your case dismissed and not shooting yourself in the foot.
Don’t tell the judge anything that isn’t legally required. Again, this goes back to preparing, but never tell a judge you were only speeding for a few seconds or that you were only keeping up with traffic. These are not only excuses, you are actually admitting to the violation and have just made it very easy for a judge to find you guilty.
If all else fails, and you chicken out or change your mind at the last minute and want to hire a lawyer, no worries, there are good ones to be found. You may want to read up on how to hire an attorney for a traffic matter and the questions you should ask.
If you do go through with it, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear, win or lose.