1. While I understand that your answer was not a "legal opinion" or "legal advice", and that your goal is to "educate" me, I have an education. I paid $28 for an answer. I do not need to spend $28 for someone to tell me that a technical legal defense is to inform the judge that "I didn't do it".
A: You evidently didn't understand my answer (or perhaps my communication skill was insufficient), because in my view, the only way that you could legally prevail on this particular issue is to testify that you didn't do it, and then try to convince the judge to do his/her constitutional job and find you not guilty -- which is why I answered as I did.
Most states do not require proof beyond all reasonable doubt in a traffic infraction case. Instead, the burden of proof is lowered to that of a "preponderance of evidence" standard, which requires nothing more than any quantum greater than 50% to convict. California requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, and were the judge an honest person, there is no possibility that he/she could find any defendant guilty where the only evidence supporting conviction is the peace officer's testimony, assuming that the defendant waives his/her constitutional right to refuse to testify and then testifies that "I didn't do it" (by explaining what happened in detail).
The problem is that there are, in my experience, no traffic court judges in California who will honestly consider the state's burden of proof, because they all routinely find defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, where reasonable doubt clearly exists. Consequently, nothing that you could say or do would permit you to prevail in your action.
Which is what I was trying to explain -- without insulting your intelligence by telling you that you're simply wasting your time, and that you should just pay the ticket and move on.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that traffic court is a huge revenue generator for each county. No one will rock the boat. Once you understand this political reality, you recognize that the solution for the vast majority of traffic cases is to take the traffic school option and then move on. But, as you are in Virginia, this is not a great option, and it will cost you more than the ticket -- so, it's a nonstarter for you.
2. What I was hoping for is a defense that may have entailed the consequences or reduced charges for an officer citing an erroneous CA traffic code violation, or getting his/her facts incorrect. Didn't see anything like that in your response.
A: That's because there isn't any lesser charge, or negotiation that would work. California law is highly deterministic. The judge is not going to negotiate over this sort of ticket. You have the option of attending traffic school and avoiding the points on your driving record, and that is the only option available.
3. Possibly, there was a specific lesser code violation, that I may have pled in the alternative, for my actual infraction (i.e., crossing in the white zone). What was that Code section?
A: See above. If you don't believe me, then hire a traffic defense lawyer and blow through another $350, only to get an "I'm sorry -- I did the best I could, but the judge was an a**" answer from your lawyer after he/she loses.
4. Let's see. The cost of airfare; room; rental car; bail for the fine; traffic school would be well over $1,000. My question was whether I would be better served to send a good attorney the $1,000 and move on. I did this once for a traffic violation in Virginia and it was "handled". Don't know how your calculations equated $350 to the true total cost of this thing. Next time, please learn math before you send advice.
A: I don't appreciate the ad hominem, re math. That said, California is not Virginia. If you are interested in an efficient economic and probabilistically certain outcome, and you are constrained by being located ~3,000 miles from the venue in which your case will be heard, then in my view, for a case such as yours, the odds of obtaining a not guilty verdict from the court is practically nil. This means that your expected value return for fighting the ticket is approximately 0% times your total investment (E = prob_success * winnings - prob_failure * wager) -- which, of course, equals ~zero. Whereas you can absolutely cap your risk at the cost of bail (plus a marginal 18 month increase in the cost of your auto insurance), by simply paying the ticket and moving on with your life.
5. Just one more thing. Do you have any research on similar cases, outcomes or even stats regarding similar hearings at the specific Court where I am due to appear? I believe, in your parlance, we are talking legal precedence and site culture. Would be nice to know if the lion will be at home before I walk into his den. Try some legal research which may make you more "aware".
A: Another ad hominem noted. I'm extremely thorough in providing legal citations when they exist. Sometimes, however, there is no legal research to provide. This is one of those times.
Best of luck with your legal issue.
Edited by Lori-Moderator on 2/19/2011 at 9:34 PM EST