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Is it possible to fight a speeding ticket and win like all of the "how-to-guides" on the internet suggest?

Illinois |

Was clocked at 66 in a 45. Officer says he clocked me approx. 5 miles from the position where he pulled me over. Internet garbage suggests that courts are bogged down and pleading not guilty with a jury trial may cause the state to dismiss your ticket to save time. Is a jury trial better than a bench trial?

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Attorney answers 1


It is true that courts are clogged and they don't have the resources to try more than a small percentage of cases. That is the overwhelming factor in driving plea negotiations. See what kind of offer you can get from the DA or city attorney. I don't know the court structure in your jurisdiction but typically minor offenses like traffic tickets are referred to municipal court or the equivalent, (there are other names, but the point is that it is a lower court, usually with a court commissioner/justice of the peace/magistrate, not a full judge, and not a court of general jurisdiction.

Usually, you have to go through that court first and there is usually no option for a jury trial. These are frequently "kangaroo courts," where the prosecutor and judge work one or two nights a week at this job, and are regular attorneys the rest of the time. If you can make a good deal do it. It is very unlikely you will get a favorable ruling from this "judge."

Depending on the jurisdication, you can then usually appeal to the Circuit Court or District Court or whatever they call the Court of general jurisdiction, where serious cases are heard. At that point, state law will govern whether you are enttitled to demand a jury and whether this appeal is "de novo," fresh, starting clean, or "on the record," where the judge reviews what has happened previously and rules whether anything was done improperly.

Bottom line, I don't know if you can get a jury trial in your jurisdiction, and if yes, you will undoubtedly have to jump through procedural hoops to get it. Be aware that unless you have a good defense or unless the law is so unfair that the jury will feel outraged and want to side with you, they will rule against you and the previous offer by the prosecutor will be off the table. Although it is impermissable to punish you merely for exercizing your right to trial, that is what happens in reality all the time. Go to trial and lose, and put everyone through that, and any reasonable offer from the prosecutor disappears, and the judge is much more likely to give you the max then the min. Try to work out a deal first or hire an attorney to do it for you.

Remember, beware of what you wish for, you just might get it. What would you actually do if you got a notice that a jury trial had been granted for a date in two weeks? Hire a lawyer? Argue to the jury yourself? (Guaranteed loser). Beg for mercy from the da or judge?

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