I got a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign. Are motorists helpless in challenging these tickets since the word of the cop will always prevail? I've heard that I can cross-examine the cop on things like his memory of the incident to discredit his testimony...does this only work on TV? Will I be penalized for pleading not guilty if I end up losing?
To some extent, your case is fact-specific so you should speak interactively to a traffic defense lawyer about how to proceed.
Your last question is actually a little complicated. When you elect a trial, you do forfeit your right to just mail in your buck and a quarter. Some additional surcharges apply and there will be a $25 prosecutor trial fee added if you lose. So your are not punished for taking a trial but the added cost of convening court is shared by you and the government, if you lose.
You will not be penalized for pleading not guilty, however, I strongly suggest delegating all aspects of defending your case to a licensed professional.
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You should always hire a traffic lawyer on moving traffic violations. He will usually be able to get you court supervision, which if successfully completed, keeps the conviction off your record. It is true that you have the right to go to trial, but I would review the facts with a traffic lawyer. He can then properly advise you as to what your chances are of winning at trial, and which choice he would recommend..
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