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What are your options after getting a traffic violation charge?

In Arizona, you must appear before a judge after getting charged with a criminal traffic offense like reckless driving, aggressive driving or a DUI (driving under the influence). Legal procedures can be overwhelming and complex, which can be a source of stress for those with citations.

If you are facing a traffic misdemeanor charge, consider your legal options carefully. Ignoring the ticket may not be the best choice since the court may suspend your license and even issue an arrest warrant.

Different pleading options before a judge

Your ticket will tell you the date and time of your court appointment. Once you are in front of a judge, you may plead:

Guilty: Choosing this pleading option means you admit that you committed the offense. The severity of your penalty will highly depend on the charge, with the more serious crimes having more severe punishments. You may have to pay a fine, receive suspension on your driving privileges, do community service or even get prison time.

Not guilty: If you plead not guilty, you deny that you committed the charge against you. In this case, the court will set a trial or pretrial date. As a defendant, you may work with a lawyer who can help you establish your case before a judge.

No contest: A no contest plea means you are neither denying nor admitting the charges against you. Under this plea, you are saying you have no intentions to contest the charges, meaning that you may get the same penalty if you plead guilty. The judge will hear your explanation, which can help inform their final decision.

Today, some legal institutions allow those with citations to file their pleas by mail or video phone. If you cannot appear in court, you may try these alternatives after getting your ticket.

Know your rights as a defendant

Just because you are under investigation does not mean you have no rights during the trial process. As a defendant, you have the right to appear before a judge and jury. If you pleaded not guilty, you may even initiate an appeal if you are unsatisfied with the court’s decision.

Moreover, you may hire a lawyer at any stage of the trial. An experienced attorney may help simplify the confusing aspects of legal proceedings.