As you discovered, in a mitigation hearing you admit that you committed the offense, but ask the judge to reduce the amount, or otherwise find in your favor, because of some outside factor. An example might be that yes, you were speeding, but you were trying to get an antidote to the hospital in time to save a life.
Generally speaking, you are eligible to defer a ticket once every seven years. If you have never had a ticket before, then you should qualify. Usually, there is an Administrative Fee that you pay. The fee is $150.00 in many courts, but I have seen exceptions. Once you fill out the papers and defer, and pay the fee, the ticket is filed away for one year. If you do not get any other tickets for a year, then the ticket is dismissed. If you do get another ticket, then this one would be found to be committed.
One final option that you might have is the judge might allow you to contest the ticket even if you requested to mitigate. A traffic ticket attorney could help you with that. An attorney would also (potentially anyway) be able to raise other defenses. You might consider having a free consultation with an attorney about your ticket. There are many good ones here on Avvo.
There are numerous ways an experienced attorney can get your tickets either reduced to a non-moving violation that will not affect your insurance rates or get your ticket dismissed. This can save the deferral for another time when it may be a more difficult matter that requires using that one-time option.
I do not recommend that you handle a mitigation hearing on your own. If you cannot obtain an attorney before the date of your hearing simply appear and ask the court for a continuance on the matter to give you more time to retain an attorney.
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Think about hiring a traffic ticket attorney in your area. They aren't very much for traffic tickets generally speaking, and if you could beat the ticket at a contested hearing rather than use your deferral, that would probably be best. Then should you happen to get another ticket, you could use the deferral at that point or try to fight it again. You may need to reschedule court though if they do mitigation hearings on a different day than contested hearings. There's a lot of overlap down here but I'm not sure what the process is in King County in that regard.
If you hire an attorney then the attorney should be able to change the hearing from a mitigation hearing to a contested hearing. The attorney has a good chance of either getting the ticket dismissed or having the prosecutor agree to reduce the speeding ticket to a non-moving infraction. In most courts, such as King County District Court where I believe your ticket will be filed, so long as you have an attorney representing you then you will not need to be present.
If you want to represent yourself, it will be decided by the Judge as to whether you are eligible for a deferred finding. Most deferred findings in King County are for 12 months and you still have to pay the face value of the fine on your ticket. This means that you cannot have any traffic violations during that 12 month period. You only get one deferred finding every 7 years and the Judge has the discretion to not give you a deferred finding.