It’s not uncommon for drivers to need to reschedule their court date appearances for a traffic ticket. Drivers are sometimes unable to appear due to work or family obligations. In some situations, drivers want a change of court date because they require more time to compile evidence for their defense. The continuation process in Virginia and the United States, in general, are discussed in this article. It also explains how to reschedule a traffic ticket court date.
Continuance Process & Grounds to Reschedule Court Date for Traffic Ticket
Before we go ahead to discuss how the the contiuance process works, here is a simple definition of the term continuance.
In American procedural law, a continuance is the postponement of a hearing, trial, or other scheduled court proceeding at the request of either or both parties in the dispute, or by the judge sua sponte.Definition from Definitions.net
With that out of the way, the following are basic and helpful pieces of information you should be aware of when you need to reschedule your court date for a traffic ticket.
A driver charged with a traffic violation in most courts is entitled to an automatic continuance of their case. Generally speaking, you only get one automatic continuation. A first continuance can be obtained by contacting the clerk’s office and requesting one. So while you can fax a letter to the clerk’s office when making an official request, many clerk’s offices will continue your case if you call.
Cases Set Based on the Officer’s Schedule
In the general district court, cases are scheduled according to the officer’s court date. Each officer will get a court date once a month in most courts, however, this varies largely from court to court. Some state troopers only show up once every several months in more rural counties. This means you don’t get to choose the date of the hearing; it’s determined by the officer’s schedule. If you are unable to appear in court on the officer’s next available day, you may be entitled to have the case rescheduled to the officer’s next accessible date. This is usually determined by the cause of your absence.
If you have already asked for a continuance and would like another, you are not entitled to a second automatic continuance in most Virginia/US courts. In most cases, you will need to appear in court to request another continuance. Newly uncovered evidence or a subpoenaed witness who fails to attend are examples of situations that qualify for a continuance under the law.
On the other hand, if you were appointed new counsel at the last minute in a case involving the risk of jail time, it would also be grounds for a continuance. Requests for a continuance in traffic court that are not based on statutes include having a speedometer calibrated, hiring a lawyer at the last minute (some judges may be upset if you haven’t already done so), and medical concerns.
Reasons for Continuing Cases
Keeping your case going could be beneficial from a strategic standpoint. Before trial, it’s not uncommon for a traffic lawyer to examine the time of the police’s tuning forks calibration and question the officer about what happened in your case. If the officer’s account of events differs significantly from what you informed your lawyer, your lawyer may need to postpone the case until a later date so that he or she can be better prepared for trial. As a result, whether you plan to hire a lawyer or represent yourself, it is always a good idea to be selective in your requests for continuances.
4 Ways to Reschedule Your Traffic Ticket Court Date Appearance
Any violation, from speeding to violating a stop sign, can result in costly fines and points on your driving record. Delaying your court date is a method your Los Angeles ticket attorney may use to improve your chances of having your case dismissed or at the very least, receiving more lenient penalties.
#1. Conflicts in Scheduling
The top traffic ticket attorneys are often naturally preoccupied with other cases in addition to yours. To get at a day when everyone can be present, judges must work with your lawyer’s schedule as well as the prosecutor’s timetable. This may cause your case to be postponed for several weeks or months, giving you additional time to prepare.
#2. The Death of a Family Member
Death can happen at any time. If a loved one passes away while you are preparing for your court date, you should call a court clerk right away to request a postponement. In most situations, the court will give you time to make the required arrangements and grieve.
#3. Unexpected Illness
For any court to postpone or reschdule your date, you must be suffering from a significant ailment. Common examples could be a herniated disc, the flu, and strep throat. Similar to a family death, you must notify the court as quickly as possible.
It’s difficult to organize a wedding while dealing with a DUI traffic ticket or a suspended license. The court may agree to postpone your date to avoid coinciding with your wedding. When it comes to the honeymoon, though, they might not be so flexible.
What Happens If I Want to Challenge My Ticket and Get a Trial?
You can protest your ticket and request a trial in a number of ways:
You can appear in any of the courts around you and enter a not guilty plea with the clerk.
You can write the court a letter pleading not guilty. The bond amount must be included on your courteous Violation Information Notice, which must be sent by certified or registered mail at least five days before the due date on your ticket or Notice. Please send the letter to:
Superior Court of Justice
6040 P.O. Box
92658-6040 Newport Beach, CA
You can have a trial by written declaration, which requires no court presence; instead, you submit a written statement to the court and post bail for the amount listed on the courtesy Violation Information Notice. If you go for this option, you will have access to forms.
Note: If you cannot pay the full bond amount as required by the California Vehicle Code, you must schedule an appointment with the court to file your not guilty plea and discuss bail with the judicial officer.
What Should I Do to Prepare for My Next Trial?
If your ticket is for an infraction, your case will be heard by a judge rather than a jury. The police officer will explain why he or she issued the ticket at your trial. You have the option of hiring an attorney or representing yourself. You or your lawyer can do the following:
- Make a legal argument,
- Bring witnesses with you, and
- Interrogate (cross-examine) the officer who issued the citation.
You and any witnesses you have should come forward to the counsel table when your case is called. The officer will be the first to testify. Following the officer’s evidence, the judge will ask if you want to cross-examine him. This means you can question the officer about issues raised in his or her testimony as well as other aspects of the case. This doesn’t imply that you will be presenting your own testimony at that time.
In your own case, you have the right to remain silent and not testify. However, you may opt to forgo your right to remain silent after hearing the officer’s testimony by testifying to your version of the facts and your defense. You give up your right to remain silent if you choose to testify, and you may be asked questions (cross-examination) about the issues you raised in your testimony. You may also summon witnesses and provide evidence such as photographs, charts, or other written items.
Preparing yourself for your trial, you need to:
- Recognize the charges (violation) leveled against you. The California Vehicle Code contains information about charges.
- During cross-examination, prepare a list of questions to ask your witnesses and the officer.
- Bring any proof you wish the judge to see.
When I Go to Court, How Should I Dress?
Dress appropriately for the session. It is necessary to wear a shirt and shoes. T-shirts are not permitted in several courts. Casual clothing, such as tank tops and shorts, is not appropriate, and the court may refuse to hear your case if you are dressed poorly.
Other Rules in the Courtroom:
- No food, drink, or chewing of gum.
- No weapons.
- Pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices should be turned off.
- Always address the judge as “Your Honor.”
- Keep a professional demeanor.
- Make sure you arrive on time for your hearing.
- Without authorization, do not enter the area between the counsel table and the judge’s bench.
- You must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian if you are under the age of 18.
What if a Mandatory Appearance is Required on My Ticket?
You must appear in court for some sorts of infractions, such as misdemeanors or those with mandatory punishment requirements. If this is the case, the word “required appearance” will appear on your courtesy Violation Information Notice. If your ticket compels you to appear in court, you must do it on or before the ticket’s due date. Also you’d need to schedule an appointment with the judge.
What Is the Procedure for Requesting a Disability Accommodation?
The court’s policy is to ensure that people with disabilities have full and equal access to the legal system. Fill out the Request for Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities (MC-410) form to make a request. You should submit this form to the court as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days before the date on which you want the accommodation.
What if I Don’t Have a Good Command of the English Language?
On request, the court will provide interpreters. Let the clerk know that you require an interpreter in the language you speak when you request a court date so that an interpreter can be scheduled for your court date. You can also let the bailiff in the courtroom know that you need an interpreter on your court date so that an interpreter can be dispatched to your courtroom.
Indicating the need for an interpreter in the court room on your date can be done over the phone or online.
Is It Legal for Me to Bring My Children to Court?
Children may be taken to court and kept in “Children’s Chambers” while their parents or guardians do court business. Children’s Chambers is a safe drop-in place for kids that lets them be kids instead of listening to uncomfortable or frightening adult interactions for long periods of time.
Steps to Reschedule Your Court Date Appearance For Traffic Ticket
If you are unable to appear in court for a criminal or traffic issue, you have a few options. It is important to note that court dates cannot be changed over the phone.
- Engage the Services of an Attorney to Represent You in Court
- Arrive at the Courthouse Early for Your Planned Court Appearance
For these types of matters, the court has designated courtrooms for walk-ins. Walk-in court is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In baically any setting, when you walk in the door, you’ll notice a counter in front of you. You can take a seat in this queue and inform the clerk that you want to see the Judge about the cases. The clerk will lead you to the right courtroom and will send the case files up to you.
- Submit a Motion
You can ask for a new court date by filing a motion.
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