I was cited for underage drinking in he tate in which I attend college; I am 19 years old. I was fined $177 and they gave me a court date but it is not mandatory. The only problem is that I don't live here; I live in another state and the court date is scheduled for the summer when I won't be here. I'm thinking about just paying the fine and not showing up for the court date, since it is not mandatory. Is this a good idea?
If the citation notes that your appearance is not mandatory in a Wisconsin court, then you have been issued a civil, rather than criminal citation. Failure to appear will result in imposition of the fine noted on the citation and you will be convicted of the civil ordinance violation.
However, you may "appear" and enter your plea by letter in a civil citation in municipal court. If your citation advises you to appear in the Madison Municipal Court you can even download a "not guilty plea" form from the court's website (or use that as a template for other municipal courts). After that, it may be possible to handle the pre-trial conference with the city attorney by phone (just call and ask when you receive your notice of the new court date) Note that it is possible to receive a license suspension for underage drinking in Wisconsin, so it's well worth your while to speak with the municipal prosecutor (without making any admissions) first and see if they would stipulate to no license suspension. The entry of a stipulated plea may also be done by mail or fax in these ordinance violation cases.
Please note that the above information only applies to ordinance violations in Wisconsin and is provided as general information rather than legal advice pertaining to your particular situation.
No, that's not a good idea. You don't want that on your permanent criminal record. Hire a criminal defense attorney located in the town or county where you received the ticket. Your attorney can appear in court on your behalf and try and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to get your ticket reduced to a lesser offense.
The answers submitted on AVVO by The Rogers Law Firm, LLC d/b/a LeadFootSpeedingTicket.com are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be advertising, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The transmission of information on AVVO is not intended to establish, and receipt of such information does not establish or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The reader should not act on the answers without first consulting legal counsel.
At the very least, you should talk with a criminal defense lawyer who is licensed in that state and discuss possible alternatives to simply paying the fine, which may be equivalent to pleading guilty, in which case you'd be left with a criminal record. A lawyer may be able to appear on your behalf, and may be able to get the charges reduced, or even dismissed, depending on the circumstances. Most lawyers will provide a free consultation, so there's no harm in making a couple of phone calls to get some solid local advice.
Please note that my response to your question is a general answer based on insufficient information to provide sound legal advice on the specific facts of this case. My answer does not constitute legal advice. Further, my response to your question does not create an attorney-client relationship. For proper legal advice, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction with adequate knowledge of the specific subject matter of your case to provide a proper evaluation of the specific facts and legal issues in your case.
The truth is that a lot will depend on the nature of the offense that you are charged with. I am not licensed in Wisconsin but in NY for example such an offense is simply a violation and not a crime. As such even if you pleaded guilty you would not have any criminal record. You should reach out to a Wisconsin attorney to determine if you are being charged with a criminal offense. If not, it may indeed be more cost effective for you to simply pay it and get over with it. If it is a criminal offense you would be best served by hiring a local attorney to appear in court for you. S/he may very well be able to negotiate a plea bargain where the offense would be reduced and you would be afforded a non criminal disposition. Good luck.
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