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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Criminal Defense Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 23522
Experience:  18+ years of high-volume criminal defense work from arraignment through plea or trial.
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I need some assistance in courtroom etiquette. First, can you

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I need some assistance in courtroom etiquette. First, can you confirm the advice I was recently given by an experienced attorney is good advice and then give me advice on the proper way to address the court/the judge?

A young man, an 18-year-old, got stranded late one evening and had to walk home. There was no traffic, and he walked across the crosswalk against a red light. However, as he was walking, a police officer pulled up to the left turn lane in which he was passing. The officer also stopped due to a red light. The officer shortly thereafter, along with two other police cruisers, pulled the young man over fabricating a story of “What did you throw down? I saw you throw something away.” Yet this was a ruse. One of the other officers initiated a “Terry Stop” and removed the young man’s cell phone but continued to pull papers and wrappers out of the young man’s pockets, as well. The officer issued a ticket for Jaywalking, VC 21955, yet the offense should have been VC 21462. Due to the hassle the young man received, he wants to go to court over the mistake of the charges. While in court, he will represent himself In Propria Persona because he cannot afford an attorney. He will need to plead his case before the judge because this is an infraction. After the prosecution delivers and completes its case – after the police officer testifies – the young man, the defendant, was told to make a motion to dismiss the case but to do it verbally, not in writing, because he doesn’t want to give notice to the prosecution of the citation discrepancy. He was told to “make a motion for a directed finding” and “ask the court for a directed finding on the basis that the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to prove the violation cited in the ticket.” Is this the exact verbiage he should use? Do you have any suggestions of what he should say when it is his turn to present his case?

Hello Jacustomer,

If he was walking in the crosswalk against the light, you are correct that he should have been charged with VC 21462.

What he was told to say at the close of the police testimony is correct. There are no "magic words." That is, "legalese" isn't necessary. He can just ask for the dismissal based on the state's failure to make out the offense charged, or he can say it more formally, the way you have put it here. Either will work.

That said, police officers give a lot of traffic tickets, enough so that they really won't remember one from another if there was any gap in time between the stop and the court room appearance. So the police officer will use what's on the ticket to refresh his recollection. I don't know what's written there, but if it's short on facts, it's extremely possible that the officer will simply make out the elements of jaywalking in his testimony, because that's what he charged. In short, young man's motion will only work if the officer commits in his testimony to the young man having used the crosswalk and having crossed against the light. That this is what the officer will say is not a foregone conclusion.

Otherwise the 18 year old will have to cross-examine the police officer to show that 1) he crossed in the crosswalk against the light or 2) that the officer has no independent recollection of what happened during this incident in order to get a dismissal.

Good luck!

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