Traffic Court Virginia: What to Expect & How to Protect Your Rights
Knowing what to expect and how to protect your rights before your hearing at the traffic court in Virginia is a key step in strengthening your case. Learn more here.
Navigating Traffic Cases in the Traffic Court of Virginia
If you have been charged with a traffic offense in Virginia, your case will almost always be heard at the General District Court. The exception is with juvenile cases that are usually heard at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Because most traffic cases are heard at the District Court, this means there will be no jury or judge. Still, under Virginia law, a person can always appeal their conviction and even ask for a jury trial.
Moreover, the Commonwealth of Virginia has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to get you convicted. This means that if there is any shred of reasonable doubt as to whether the officer witnessed the offense or used their equipment properly, you can have grounds for appeal.
The traffic court usually hears cases where a person has a traffic charge. This includes speeding, reckless driving, and other traffic violations that can be issued either as a ticket or through an arrest.
Knowing your rights when going to court and understanding how a case will go through the Traffic Court in Virginia is important. That way, you can prepare yourself for whatever comes your way. Here’s what you should know about traffic court in Virginia:
Prepayment for Less Serious Traffic Offenses
Many cases are usually prepaid, and in such instances, a court appearance may be waived. In such instances, you may choose to pay your fines and court costs in person or by mail before the court appearance rather than appear in court.
For example, in some cases of traffic infractions, traffic tickets can be pre-payable. Whether traffic tickets are pre-payable or not can be determined by checking the box in the center of the court summons. If the box stating that you may avoid coming to court is checked, the ticket is probably pre-payable.
However, bear in mind that if your traffic or a speeding ticket is pre-payable, paying the fine means you have to plead guilty to that particular offense. Also, pre-payment of traffic or speeding tickets may result in convictions, which is something offenders should be aware of before paying.
Some offenses that require that you appear in court include:
- Driving under the influence
- Texting while driving
- Driving with a revoked or suspended license
- Reckless driving
Appearance in Court for More Serious Traffic Offenses
A defendant must go to court for more serious offenses as you do not have the option of prepaying a fine.
- Lack of insurance
- Drug violations
- Habitual offender
- Suspended permit
- Speeding in a work zone
- Lack of a permit
- Reckless driving
- Improper use or altered tags and decals
If you have been charged with more serious offenses, working with a Virginia criminal lawyer is critical. Working with an attorney reduces the chances of conviction and the imposition of steep fines.
Contact an experienced Virginia traffic lawyer at Scrofano Law today as we have a solid understanding of the workings of the traffic court in Virginia and how the law applies to these circumstances. We have helped many of our clients get their cases dismissed and secure their freedom and may just do the same for you.
How to Prepare for Traffic Court in Virginia
While traffic offenses and charges may seem minor, the traffic division takes them very seriously. They may have long-term implications if you are convicted, including jail time, fines, and demerit points on your driving license.
It is critical to understand how the court process works as a defendant. This would require working with a Virginia traffic attorney before heading to court.
Even though you can typically negotiate penalties and cross-examine the officer without a lawyer, it is not advisable to do so. The courts subject defendants that represent themselves have to follow the rules of evidence that they expect from an attorney.
As such, you need to know that questions an attorney would not be allowed to ask will also not be allowed of you either, nor will they be admitted as evidence. Moreover, even if you can negotiate penalties with the judge, a Virginia criminal lawyer is always your best bet.
At Scrofano Law, our state & federal criminal lawyer has a comprehensive understanding of the law and the penalty you could face for the offenses you have been charged with. After we establish an attorney-client relationship, we will work with you to develop an excellent defense strategy. If you are interested in acquiring legal representation, contact us today, and we may just be able to help you.
Virginia Traffic Court Number
There are numerous traffic courts in Virginia, and the phone number for each will differ. Your local court’s phone number will likely be listed on its website. Alternatively, you may be able to resolve your matter on the internet.
For instance, if you have lost your traffic court summons or you have no idea which jurisdiction issued the summons, you can go on the internet and find it.
You can typically go on the court’s website and conduct a statewide search using your full name.
- Paying Before the Court Date
Payments for some traffic offenses and tickets are accepted by the office of the General District Court clerk Monday – Friday until the last business day prior to your appearance in court. Eligible offenses that you can prepay will usually be designated as “Mark for Payment.”
Pre-court payment of your traffic ticket or fines is usually deemed entry of a guilty plea and waiver of a court hearing.
- Paying After the Court Date
Payments designated with “time to pay” or deferred payment agreements can typically be expected to be paid on the agreed-on date. If your payment is not received within forty days after you appear in court, your account will begin accruing interest and will then be sent to collection.
Note that post-court payments are not allowed on the trial date.
Payments by Mail
Pre-court payments need to be mailed to the court, usually indicated on your summons no more than seven days before you appear in court. The address for the General District Court may be found by following this link.
It is essential to mail prepayments in time as they are only effective once they are received rather than when they are sent. You should also note that you may have to pay additional fees for late prepayments.
If you have been charged with traffic offenses, you should hire an experienced criminal lawyer to help you navigate the system. Our Scrofano Law attorney has a good understanding of the process and may just help you avoid conviction, as we have done for many other clients.
Virginia Traffic Court Procedures
If you have a date for a court appearance regarding a traffic offense, it is always better to talk to an attorney before stepping foot in the courtroom. Many times such cases are heard alongside criminal cases.
Once you arrive, the clerk will usually show you what courtroom to go to and the type of offense you are charged with. You should then wait inside the courtroom for your case to be called.
Traffic offenses are usually heard in the same courtroom with similar offenses, and hence you should be in a courtroom with people whose cases you will get to listen to before and after yours.
The typical traffic case will usually involve the officer charging you, the judge, an attorney if you have one, and you as the defendant. Speeding cases will usually not have a prosecutor, and you will be required to either plead no contest, not guilty, or guilty.
After you plead, the officer will testify to the circumstances of the arrest, and you or your Virginia criminal lawyer can question the officer and testify on what happened. You should also note that the police officer and the judge may cross-examine your version of events even though testifying is at your discretion.
At the end of all the testimonies, the judge will decide if you are guilty or innocent. They will determine what penalty to assign if you are found guilty. Penalties typically include fines and demerit points on your driving license.
You may need to work with an experienced criminal lawyer for a favorable outcome with minimal penalties. Our Scrofano Law attorney is here to help, so feel free to contact us today.
How Much Are Traffic Court Fees in Virginia?
People slapped with a traffic offense often start thinking of how expensive it can get. Fines and court fees can be very costly, depending on the traffic offense.
With an experienced attorney working on your case, you can possibly be protected from the severe negative consequences of traffic charges such as a fine, demerit points, and other expenses.
Court costs usually vary depending on the jurisdiction, even though they average between $61 and $67. If you have been slapped with several charges, you may have to pay additional fees for each one.
The court will charge a 4% convenience fee if you pay with a debit or credit card. Note that it is up to the judge to decide if they will waive court costs, usually reducing client costs.
Note that if you fail to appear in court, you will likely be charged $35. The only way to not pay the fee is to ask for a hearing to explain why you were not in court. The fee may be waived if you have good reasons for not being in court.
If you have dealings with the traffic court in Virginia, you should contact an attorney immediately. We have experienced Virginia traffic lawyers with experience working with clients charged with traffic offenses in the state.
Contact us today, and we may just be able to help you with your case.
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