Never, ever plead “Guilty” to a moving violation. Parking ticket, yes. “Moving” — No.
No matter how fast you might have traveled. Or how miserably you failed in coming to a “complete stop” at a sign.
Plead Not Guilty! Go to Court! It’s the All American Way!
More importantly, it works.
I was defendant number 10 when I walked into my local district magistrate’s office Monday. Ten more had strolled in before my police business ended, and I walked out with a new lease to travel the road. It was “pointless” on my part. Or, should I say, I left “pointless,” that is, with no points on my driving record that would mandate a license revocation.
A police officer wearing a black uniform and short blonde hair with just a little gray, introduced himself to speeding violators caught a couple of weeks earlier in what we commonly refer to as a “speed trap.” He appeared sincere, yet firm in his explanation how those of us who were as guilty as sin — yet pleaded “Not Guilty” to our traffic tickets — could “plea bargain.” In return for changing our plea to “Guilty,” he would recommend to a judge that the ticket be “adjusted” to show one had driven only five miles above the speed limit.
You’d still pay the fine, a hefty $126.50. But there’d be no points involved.
“Can I genuflect and shake your hand now, officer?” I said in the small conference room where the corporal met with me and two other offenders. He laughed and said there was no need for the genuflection. He did accept my handshake. And a bunch of guilty pleas from us.
You see, I had gone to Court to represent a “fool.” I had planned to represent myself. First time I ever did with no theory of defense to lay before the judge. I was simply hoping to say “I’m sorry,” but please “take pity” and reduce the offense to an infraction with no points.
“The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client,” is a good saying because it’s generally true. One gets emotionally involved in their own case and can easily overlook the pragmatic approach the law often needs to secure a proper justice. For both sides. Not just one.
We signed the plea agreement, which in turn would be approved by the judge as a matter of routine, and stood at a counter for a district court clerk to fill out paper work. the woman ahead of me had driven 14 miles above the speed limit. I was clocked at doing 29 above. We paid the same fine, despite the difference. My original fine was $187.50. Imagine how surprised I felt on learning I’d get back $61 after paying the fine ahead of time as “collateral.”
Made me want to race right on out of there and speed my way home. Don’t worry. I didn’t. Speed. Race. Or make my way home. I had prize money from a court victory to spend and that’s exactly what I did. Spent it, and felt as free as a bird.