Thank you, friend.
In this case, you may wish to plead NOT GUILTY.
Pleading guilty or no contest (also called nolo contendere
) will simply have the matter over before it even begins and has you at the mercy of the Court.
But you have choices.
First of all, understand how this works. At this point, you have three options.Options
1) simply send in the fine (automatic guilty plea), or plead guilty at first appearance and pay the fine;
2) plead not guilty and the matter will be reset to trial. If the matter is reset to trial, then you can normally request a jury trial
, and retaining counsel is best. Of course, by retaining counsel, you end up paying close to what you would with the ticket;
3) Informal negotiation - we will get to this in a moment.Prosecutor's Leverage
If this case gets to trial, the prosecutor is likely to call the officer who will make an appearance and explain what he feels happened. He may or may not bring his dashboard camera tape that can also show what happened, if there is one. Normally, the Judge (or Jury, if you have a jury trial) takes the word of an officer over the Defendant.Your Leverage
The prosecutor is normally very backed up. They are handling literally dozens of cases at once. Setting a matter for trial - jury trial, more so - is a serious issue since they have little time to prepare, file the proper motions, and generally make room for the trial to happen. And a 20 mph speeding ticket of someone who has almost no priors is really one of the LEAST important things the prosecutor likely will have on his plate.Negotiation
Recall how I had mentioned negotiation as one of the options. Very often, individuals in your situation are given a "plea deal," if they have little/no traffic record. Individuals in your situation are very likely to be offered two possibilities:
1. A deferral program (which dismisses the charge if you simply are not charged/convicted of anything else in 6 months to a year, but, pay court costs); or
2. Traffic school (although some Courts do not have this as an option).
You can always ask for even a more favorable plea deal, including a "non-moving" violation, that would be less of a fine and not count as points. If the prosecutor agrees, then this is a good deal.
Now, at time of first hearing, the Prosecutor is likely to be faced with dozens of angry Defendants. Ergo, they may respond more favorably if you (1) call and find out the prosecutor's number from the court, and then call the prosecutor and ask for a quick "meeting" to discuss the case wherein you can explain the mitigating factors and ask for a non-moving violation, or even for it to be simply dropped; or (2) plead not guilty first, and then approach them when they seem less busy in Court.
This is very likely to end up in a settled agreement.
Of course, if this does not work, your only other option is to indeed set it for trial and play your leverage. Doing so may have the prosecutor reexamine their offer to you.