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I plan to fight a traffic ticket for $130 in New York City

I plan to fight a...

I plan to fight a traffic ticket for $130 in New York City (lower Manhattan). The ticket says "Failed to yield to a pedestrian at an intersection," which was not what happened. I was making a U-turn on a green light, and the officer told me I made a wrong U-turn. Pedestrians had the red light for them, and there were no pedestrians attempting to cross. There were no signs prohibiting the U-turn, and no other cars/pedestrians were delayed.


This is a popular place to make U-turns and it seems that the cop is sitting there catching everybody & writing tickets all day. He told me the law says one should make the U-turn from the right lane, not from the left lane. But with a small car like mine, the U-turn from the left lane is easy and less disruptive for other cars than U-turns from the right lane. Seems like a bad law.


1) If the officer does show up, the judge will probably take his word over mine. My only recourse is to have a public attorney find some technical/procedural issues with the officer's docs, etc. Do you agree? Anything else I could do to fight this?


2) My best chance is if the officer doesn't show up, so I plan to reschedule the hearing to delay the trial as much as possible. If I ask for a motion for discovery, would that lead to the officer being contacted for his notes? If he is forced to review his notes, perhaps, he'll be more ready/willing to show up and fight? If so, maybe it's better not to request the discovery until the trial?


3) What plea bargains are commonly offered by prosecutor for this type of offenses? I have no other offenses on my record (my prior 2 tickets and points were in 2002, which means they should be deleted by now).  If the officer shows up, and his case is bullet-proof, maybe I should take the plea bargain? 


I don't want an expense of hiring an attorney and will use a public attorney + any help that you will give me. Thanks!

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5/31/2013
Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4,502
Experience: Almost 12 years of legal experience, primarily in criminal law
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Hello.

It is true that judges give more weight to an officer's testimony as a rule. But if he testifies truthfully then it may be hard for him to prove the case. In order to be convicted of failing to yield to a pedestrian, the law requires that there either be a pedestrian in the crosswalk, or on the adjacent curb with the legal ability to cross the street (i.e. a walk signal). It is unlikely, however, that this charge would get thrown out on a technicality. Judges are not particularly concerned with that. The purpose of a citation is to notify you of the charge. If it does that, the rest of it is not of much concern. The officer can testify about what happened so it is of little consequence if there is a typo or something on the ticket.

If you are talking about the public defender you may want to check with the county office if you are even eligible. The PD's office in most counties do not represent individuals on a traffic case where there is no possibility of incarceration. So you may end up having to handle this yourself.

Judges do not appreciate repeated delays that have no legitimate basis. They have busy dockets and will generally only grant postponements for good cause and don't tend to have patience for pointless delays. So you may not be helping your cause that much by asking for postponements without cause, particularly if you ask for one and the judge denies it and you are stuck with that judge.

The rules of discovery don't apply to traffic infractions. That said, some judges may allow you to request very limited discovery. However, discovery has to be done before the court date. One does not get to conduct discovery in court, although you can ask to see the officer's notes he refers to them to refresh his recollection during trial.

In a case like this, the maximum penalty is a fine only. So a plea bargain typically involves a fine. They may undercut the original fine as an incentive to plead guilty, but not always. They may also offer an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal) where the ticket is postponed a few months and if you don't get further tickets in that time, the case is dismissed. You are more likely to get a lower fine or ACD if you have a relatively clean record.

I think I covered all your questions...please let me know if you need additional information.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for your answer. If the limited discovery is allowed, how would you answer my concerns below?


If I ask for a motion for discovery, would that lead to the officer being contacted for his notes? If he is forced to review his notes, perhaps, he'll be more ready/willing to show up and fight? If so, maybe it's better not to request the discovery until the trial?


 


Still not sure what's better - ask for this limited discovery or ask for cop's notes during the trial.


 


 


If I ask to see the cop's notes during the trial, is the judge required allow me? How much time will I be given to review them? Seems like this would elongate the trial, while the judges like to get the trial done quick.


 

Yes, the officer would likely be contacted because he would likely be the only person who has access to whatever notes exist. I can't tell you whether that would make him more or less likely to come to court because I don't know what kind of person and officer he is. Some officers come to court for every ticket they write and some don't. There's no way to know which type he is and whether being asked for discovery would somehow make him come to court when he otherwise would not show up.

The judge isn't required to allow you to look at them during trial. Sometimes judges do, but they are not in evidence nor would they be probably be introduced into evidence so you are not necessarily entitled to see them. And if the judge does they usually only give a very cursory chance to review. However, I think you are probably overestimating the amount of notes that the officer wrote and how much help they will be to you. Other than filling out the ticket, most officers write a quick sentence or two on the back of the ticket in their book that will help them refresh their memory later. They don't usually write pages about what happened. Sometimes they don't take any notes.
Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
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