Having done thousands of traffic tickets, I can tell you that it varies greatly for different reasons. Second, even though I am a defense attorney and zealously represent my clients, I will not in a public forum post percentages that I am aware of that relfect on these kind of practices of a government agency -- it just would not be professional. However, I can tell you that it varies greatly between agencies and varies for many reasons, including: managing officers, new policies, fading policies, court subpoena practices, etc. Some departments track their officers court appearances, some agencies require their officers to check in with a liason at the courthouse, some officers check in the DAs office to get something stamped, some agencies pay higher overtime (although I have noticed that this factor counter-intuitively does not increase stats), and some departments schedule all of their traffic enforcement officers to be on regular schedule on the routine assigned court days. I could tell you the approximate percentages for the courts that I work in, but that is in Southern California, not in Palo Alto.
We're not bookies nor fortune tellers nor can we give you percentages. In my experience, the officers show up more often than not. They get paid overtime to appear in court if it's their day off and cops love overtime--it's how they pay for all their toys and girlfriends. I'm not a betting man, but I'd say the odds are 75% or better that the cop shows up--unless it's raining. Pray for rain. They're really busy when it rains.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney--20 years experience
For some reason the criminally accused want criminal attorneys to hazard % estimates as to the likely outcomes of certain events occurring; i.e., "what's the % chance likelihood of getting acquitted/convicted/case dismissed/ect". Since I'm asked this kind of question so often, I now rely on one of three pat answers (or a combination thereof): 1. impossible to predict, 2. more likely than not, 3. or less likely than not. I'd say the answer is generally 1 but 2 is likely accurate (but I've seen no reliable published data to justify 2, simply anecdotal and from talking to other lawyers). Regardless, in criminal practice and surely in any law practice, the prudent strategy is to assume (and prepare) for the worst and hope for the best. Prepare for the cop being present, and pray he/she doesn't show. Best of luck.
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