Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Thank you for using JustAnswer.com
In order for me to better assist you I am requesting the following information:
Is this the first time you have ever been arrested?
Have you ever had a conviction for anything else?
How old are you? (your age might affect an outcome)
Thank you for the information. Since this is your first offense, it may be possible for you to ask the court for a diversion or deferral of sentence.
This means, that if you decide to "plea" guilty, or speak to the prosecutor and are able to reach a plea bargain that recommends diversion, the court may hold your plea in abeyance until the end of a successful probationary period. At the end of that period, the case may be dismissed. Part of the diversion may include court costs, probation (supervised or unsupervised), community service, AA, etc. This list is not exhaustive.
A plea under diversion is totally within the discretion of the judge and his statutory authority.
When you go to court for the first time (an arraignment), the judge will read you the charge and give you the possible penalties. S/he will then read you rights, including that you have a right to a trial before a judge or a jury and you have a right to be represented by a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed for you. You also have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The court may then ask how you plea, "Guilty" or "Not Guilty". If you are seeking the assistance of a public defender, or want to hire an attorney, plea "NOT GUILTY" until you have the opportunity to discuss the specific facts of your case with him/her.
If you wish to speak to an attorney prior to going to court, if you do not know a lawyer, you can contact your local bar association and ask for a referral to a criminal attorney. It will probably give you 2 or 3 names, and you may contact the attorney(s) by phone for a consultation or ask for an appointment. Sometimes those referrals are free.
You can always represent yourself in court, and you can ask to speak to the prosecutor about a possible diversion. BUT....it may be worth the cost of an attorney (or a public defender if you qualify) to assist you with obtaining the best result. You don't want to risk the possiblity of a record and having it affect your job and or future job opportunities.
If however, you/your attorney are not able to reach an agreement with the prosecutor, remember you always have a right to a trial. And....remember, if you do not believe that you committed the crime, DO NOT plea guilty "just to get it over with." That would not be in your best interest. If you believe that you are innocent, continue the plea of not guilty until a trial.
If there really isn't a doubt about your guilt, then asking for a diversion/deferral is the best way to mitigate any damage and keep your record clean.
If you have additional questions, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please consider that I am answering the question or question that is posed in your posting based upon my reading of your post and sometimes misunderstandings can occur. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered.
Also remember, sometimes the law does not support what we want it to support, but that is not the fault of the person answering the question, so please be courteous.
There can also be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break.
Use of this service does not create any attorney client relationship. Any information provided is not the practice of law but intended to direct you in finding an attorney in your locale.
Do I have to wait for the appearance date? Or can I, when I go to pay the fine earlier, request deferred adjudication or something similar?
It is a Class 4 Misdemeanor.
DO NOT just go and pay the fine prior to a court date. Even if you were able to do that, the plea would be deemed a "guilty" plea, and I seriously doubt that the judge would consider a deferral after the fact.
If you were given a citation, look at the ticket. Either a court date will be provided on the ticket, or it may say that you have a certain time frame in which you can call the court and get a court date to "contest" the ticket. If you are given a specific date on the ticket, YOU MUST appear. If you are given the option to call the court for a court date, then you should do so and they will most likely send you a date in the mail.
If you go to court, you will have the ability to speak to a prosecutor, have an attorney appear with you, or address the judge yourself. Don't just go and pay the ticket, even if that is an option.
Yes..... keeping in mind that you always have the right to seek the assistance or the advice of attorney.
GO GET 'EM!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).