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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Should I plead guilty or stand trial?

   
Author Topic: Should I plead guilty or stand trial?
pooka
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My registration was suspended for failure to have my car's emission's checked. I was pulled over for having a brake light out at which point the officer ticketed me for the suspended registration.

I don't think I really have a case of any kind. Mostly I'd just like to wait until after Christmas to pay this ticket.

Pleading guilty feels more honest to me, even though I was surprised to learn that my registration had been suspended. I had gotten a written warning, I just hadn't read it carefully.

If I stand trial, is there a chance that I get off in case the officer does not show up?

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MattP
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quote:
If I stand trial, is there a chance that I get off in case the officer does not show up?
I don't think so, though sometimes a judge will reduce the fine.
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pooka
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Oh, I guess I'll plead guilty then. The officer and witnesses are not required at a sentencing hearing.
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Chord
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Don't give into the Man, pooka! Run for Canada!
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ClaudiaTherese
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Oh, pooka, I'm sorry.
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Launchywiggin
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In my experience, if you show up with evidence that you've dealt with the problem, the judge immediately throws it out. By just showing up in court, I've gotten 4 tickets thrown out. 2 for late registration, 1 for city sticker (which they still had in VA), 1 for cracked window that I had to replace. Just show up and plead guilty.
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pooka
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quote:
Originally posted by ClaudiaTherese:
Oh, pooka, I'm sorry.

But it wasn't your fault... was it? We went through inspection and all that since then. I kind of miss the smiley face windshield.
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ClaudiaTherese
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Ah, good. But still, I wanted only good things associated with that car for you.
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Dagonee
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Pleading "not guilty" when one committed the offense is not dishonest. "How do you plead?" is a very different question than "did you do it?"
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Saephon
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*nods in agreement with Dag* Yes, it's a fancy legal way of asking "would you like to be punished for this?"
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Dan_raven
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"Nolo Contende"

If that's how you spell it.

And if that's even a useful plea in this situation.

And if you know what it means, cause as usual, I don't.

Its something I hear Rich or Famous people plead when they are caught skinny dipping on someone else's private beach with 15lbs of cocaine, three exotic dancers, and a dead dude from Norway.

Hey, I am not a lawyer. What do you want from a free freaking forum.

Your guilty, BURN BABY BURN.

sorry for that, but I'm feeling much better now.

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Dagonee
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A guilty plea is:

1) an admission that the defendant committed the offense.
2) a waiver of certain rights (trial, confront one's accuser, present a defense, compel witnesses, and to assert most other rights).
3) a consent to conviction.

An "Alford plea" replaces 1 with an assertion the defendant did not commit the offense, which would be dishonest here.

A nolo plea makes no assertion concerning whether the defendant committed the crime.

What is important to whether pleading guilty when one did it is dishonest is that a plea of "not guilty" states that at least one of 1, 2, and 3 is not true. Therefore it does not assert 1 to be true, which is the assertion that would be dishonest if made by someone who committed the offense.

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Primal Curve
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Is an "Alford Plea" also a "No Contest Plea?" I've been to traffic court a few times, and they usually had us plead no contest defining it the same way you defined the Alford plea.
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Dagonee
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Typically, "no contest" is the same as a nolo plea, but I can see it varying from location to location, since it's an informal name.

"Alford" comes from a particular case in which a defendant wanted to plead guilty while asserting innocence. It has the same legal effect as a guilty plea on future events such as three strikes laws.

Nolo pleas have different effects on future events depending on state law.

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ClaudiaTherese
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That is fascinating.
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pooka
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The Alford thing probably technically fits me best, but there was a box for that on the ticket. [er,I think... I guess I don't get it.] I wouldn't really want to face the officer who ticketed me again, because I was so angry I had to be extra polite to him. Chances are nothing will change with the Judge. I suppose it's even possible I might wind up paying more. But I am also hopeful that since the suspension had only happened Friday, the ticket was Sunday, and I corrected the problem Monday, they might take it easy on me.

I hope I don't cry. Unless it would get me out of the ticket. But probably not.

P.S. Now that I'm looking back over it, how is the Alford plea ever honest?

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ClaudiaTherese
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Be sure to tell the judge about the timing you listed above.
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Dagonee
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quote:
P.S. Now that I'm looking back over it, how is the Alford plea ever honest?
If you didn't commit the offense, it's honest. Normally an innocent person would take an Alford plea when he is likely to be convicted and wants to reduce his punishment.

However, it very often backfires. A judge must still find that there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime to accept an alford plea.

Because of this, almost all judges are going to think the alford pleader committed the crime. Therefore, the defendant in that situation is not taking responsibility for his actions, and judges raise sentences when they think that is happening.

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Dagonee
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quote:
That is fascinating.
I love naming things. It makes my brain warm and fuzzy. [Smile]
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lem
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What a great post. I am learning so much. Thank you.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
My registration was suspended for failure to have my car's emission's checked. I was pulled over for having a brake light out at which point the officer ticketed me for the suspended registration.

I don't think I really have a case of any kind. Mostly I'd just like to wait until after Christmas to pay this ticket.

Pleading guilty feels more honest to me, even though I was surprised to learn that my registration had been suspended. I had gotten a written warning, I just hadn't read it carefully.

If I stand trial, is there a chance that I get off in case the officer does not show up?

How eerie, I was pulled over not 5 days ago because I had a headlight out and it was then the officer noticed I had an expired registration. I honestly did not realize it had expired and the Dept of Motor Vehicles did not have my current address so their mailed reminder to renew was returned. The cop issued me a citation for the registration and a warning for the head light. I got the light fixed, an emissions test completed, which is a nightmare in my 2000 VW passat as it has a faulty engine light, and I just got back from the Dept of Motor vehicles and paid $106 for a renewal on my registration.

Since I have to report to court no sooner then 10 days but no later then 20 I will wait until next week, go to court, tell them I took care of everything and often judges will simply toss out the ticket and not charge you anything. But of course judges also frequently stick to penalties.

I'd take care of the problem, go to court and see if you can get off.

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pooka
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quote:
go to court and see if you can get off
That's one way to persuade the judge. [Big Grin]
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Tante Shvester
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Go to court and meet with the prosecutor and work out a plea bargain in which you plea to a lesser charge that carries no motor vehicle (and insurance) points. You still pay, but your insurance rates don't go up and your license carries no points.
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pooka
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Oh, I hadn't even considered the possibility of points. [Frown]
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Mig
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You have nothing to lose by contesting the ticket.

If you contest the ticket, the officer has to appear and the state has to prove the violation. You are not appearing in court just for sentencing. If the officer doesn't appear the judge has two options. He can dismiss the case or he can reschedule it. Which option is more likely depends on the judge's temperment and/or how busy his docket is.

At the hearing I would also demand that the prosecutor show that you were given a written notice of the suspension. If you weren't given a notice of suspension, I would argue that the suspension was invalid. (It may be that the paper they gave you that you read as a warning was the actual notice, but if it wasn't, then you would have had to have been served with a suspension notice.)

You should check with your department of motor vehicle or whichever agency in your state would have issued the suspension and ask for a copy of the notice of suspension along with the evidence of proper service required by your state, typically a certified mail receipt. (Again, you may have been suspended on the spot and you misread the suspension as a warning).

You should also to confirm whether there were any conditions or exceptions placed on your suspension. For example, the suspension may permit you to drive to and back from work or school or child care, etc. If you argue that you were driving under one of the permitted exceptions, you may be OK.

If the cop does show and you had a valid suspension and no defined exceptions to the suspension, you can try to mitigate the penalty by showing that you've optained your registration and/or fixed the taillight.

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pooka
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I had written warning, I just didn't read it carefully.
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Mig
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If it was just a warning and they haven't given you notice of the suspension, then you may not be legally suspended in the first place. Does the warning say that you will be suspended by a certain date if you don't take certain steps?

Check with your DMV to confirm the suspension.

They can't suspend you without giving you proper notice. Their records must show when and how you were suspended. By "how" I mean that they, by certified mail, mailed you a notice of the suspension or they handed the notice to you when you failed the suspension or they used whatever other method your state's law provides is acceptable notice. They should be able to answer this question at the DMV. I find it troubling that you don't have a copy of a suspension notice.

Go ahead and call your DMV.

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pooka
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Interesting. Too bad I already sent in the guilty plea.
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Kwea
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I had this happen once, and I just fixed it before I went in to court. They dismissed the charges as I had no record of anything similar at the time, and I had current proof of insurance and registration at the time of the court date.
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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Interesting. Too bad I already sent in the guilty plea.

If you already plead guilty, why are you asking what you ought to do?
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rivka
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I'm guessing she plead at some time after when she started this thread yesterday morning.
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MightyCow
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Another win for The Man. [Frown]
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