Thank you, E.Is it worth my going to the court to represent myself?
You can try this, although it is better if you use an attorney - read on.Is there any chance they would take into consideration my driving record and dismiss or lower the violation?
Yes, there is, but of course it is not as black and white as that.Or should I just plead guilty and return by mail? If I return by mail should I send it overnight so it gets there for sure by Monday?
You may not wish to do this. Allow me to explain.Options
You have several, which include:
1) simply send in the fine
(automatic guilty plea), or plead guilty at first appearance and pay the fine; OR
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. The mitigating factors you have described likely would not be taken into account and all the Judge would care about is if you were speeding or not.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. Plus, this is a relatively minor matter and the prosecutor may not wish to spend all their time on it.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. Some kind of 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); or
3. A guilty plea for a reduced charge, such as a non-moving violation.
Nothing is a guarantee, and it depends on the prosecutor, but for 22 mph over the limit, one of the above is likely.
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 calls 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. It never hurts to try.
Of course, if this does not work, your next option is to indeed set it for trial and play your leverage. Doing so may have the prosecutor reexamine their offer to you. The vast majority of these end up in a plea deal.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.
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