Trial by Declaration… Revisited

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Trial by Declaration… Revisited

Those of you, fans and avid readers will remember that back in January of this year we touched upon this subject. The reason we’re dragging this topic back up is because recently we’ve seen an increase in clients that will ask about a Trial by Declaration with the assumption that it’s the “cheap” way out of a ticket.

It would be if it worked as one would hope it did. It doesn’t. The sad part is that there are those out there whose business is charging you to complete this form which can be easily done by you and the results will not vary.

What makes the TBD an attractive proposition is that if the judgment goes against you, you can still request a “Trial de Novo” (a new trial) and appear in front of a judge or commisioner to plead your case. Two shots at getting the case dismissed. Remember that you will have to pay your fine in advance and if you win you will get your money back. The key phrase here being “if you win”.

Just so you know when you send in your Trial by Declaration documents, the case is assigned to a judge (or commisioner) for review. In some of the smaller courts there will be one judge who will go over your TBD and preside over your trial if you get as far as a Trial de Novo, which means that the same judge that found you guilty the first time will be hearing your case for the second time… what are the chances he will change his verdict?

In the bigger courts that will not be the case, different judges will decide your TBD in writing and in person but don’t think that this will make a difference, they’re working from the same “play book” and in order for you to win a TBD you really need some compelling evidence to prove your case.

In the long run, if you’re eligible for traffic school or this is your first ticket and it’s a minor infraction, a TBD may be worth a shot, not because you have a better chance of winning but it will get it out of your system. When you really need to get out of a traffic ticket, there’s nothing like hiring a very competent attorney with a good track record. It will be more expensive but your chances will definitely improve.

There, I got through one of these without a musical or movie references… catch you next week.

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