By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law
Trying to solve your own traffic cases isn’t always easy. It’s not uncommon to run into some problems with procedural issues and the inability to return to court on critical appearance dates. If you are going to represent yourself, you must be willing to understand the process and procedure to take your case through to conclusion.
Q. I have a traffic case that I have been trying to resolve for several months, but the case keeps getting continued by the prosecutor. I am tired of appearing in court numerous times with no end in sight. Can you help me resolve this matter?
A. It depends. In most situations you can hire a lawyer even though your case is already in progress and, in your case, it may have been better to get a lawyer involved early to try to combat the excessive continuances that were granted to the other side.
That being said, if there is no plea offer from the prosecutor and the case needs to proceed to trial, you may need to appear again even though you have a lawyer.
Q. I requested a trial on a traffic citation I received in Pennsylvania, and my trial is tomorrow. I am in California, and the court won’t continue my case. Can you appear for me and conduct the trial?
A. In most cases, yes, we can appear without you and conduct the trial. However, we can’t testify on your behalf, so we are somewhat limited in terms of what can be accomplished in your absence. For example, we can propose and accept a plea agreement on your behalf or we can examine the officer at trial and try to win the case.
The harder part is trying to schedule the appearance on such short notice. Although we attorneys would like to help, in many situations it might be impossible for us, so please get help well in advance of any court date.
Q. I have a case in Pennsylvania that I need help with. I received an overweight violation about six months ago for $13,000 and have been to court once. I have a new date for tomorrow, but am not sure what it is for. Can you figure out what is going on with my case and help me since I can’t be there?
A. After taking a look at your case, it looks as if you were convicted of the original charge and filed an appeal. Unfortunately, in most situations on appeal in this state, the clients must appear whether they have a lawyer or not.
Even if we could appear on your case tomorrow, we would not be able to proceed in your absence. The best course of action would be to try and secure a continuance of the matter. However, the court will not always agree to a continuance on such short notice.
Also, it may very well be possible for the court to try your case in your absence or issue a failure to appear.
To exacerbate the situation even more, this is essentially your last chance to try to resolve a citation with a huge financial penalty associated with it. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.