The point of Not Guilty plea is ‘no points’

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.  

Plead Not Guilty -- US Constitution Grants you the Right

 

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.

8 comments on “The point of Not Guilty plea is ‘no points’

  1. I really liked your blog! It helped me alot…

    Like

  2. kim says:

    I have gotten three tickets in my life and contested two successfully. The one I got in early April, I fully deserved. It was probably lazy of my not to go to court, but I really don’t have time or the motivation. I know I should have. I didn’t have an argument at all. I was speeding and not wearing my seat belt. Lesson learned. For now.

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    • contoveros says:

      Subpoena Kim to appear at her next court date under penalty of having to watch episodes of the “Gong Show” and “Soupy Sales” back-to-back for five to 10 years.

      My son Nicholas got three points. If he gets three more, he has to take a driving test. Again!

      We plead not guilty, and planned to go to court, but forgot the date until getting the notice in the mail that he was automatically found guilty as a “no show.”

      Gotta go a full year with out a violation in order to have his record “expunged.” Not sure if it is from the date of the incident or the date of the guilty finding, but have counselled him of the consequences should he not make it.

      michael j

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  3. I had a similar experience a few years ago. That time, the cop threw the book at me: he nailed me for speeding (guilty), and for not having proper insurance papers (definitely not guilty) and no vehicle registration (not guilty).

    I agreed with him about the speed I was going but when I explained to him that it was a fleet vehicle from my work and that their insurance was there, as was the registration but, because it wasn’t in a format he was familiar with, he chose to ignore what I said and write me up.

    Definitely I was going to go to court to fight this. It was wrong. I did my homework, got all of the documents I needed together and made my way to court when the date came.

    I showed up, and the prosecutor looked at the charges and said he would drop the two (insurance and registration) AND drop the speed charge such that I wouldn’t lose points. Of course I jumped at that offer, just as you did. It was just good sense.

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    • contoveros says:

      Wolf,

      Not Guilty on two of three counts and a major offense knocked down to a minor one.

      You sure you ain’t never been to law school?

      michael j

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      • Wish I could take credit for it, but…..the reality was that the traffic court system was overwhelmed with people wanting to fight their charges and the prosecutor was just interested in saving time by whittling down the number of cases that would actually be heard in court.

        To stretch an old chiche: he truly made me an offer I could not refuse. Had I wanted to fight, we’d have been talking about the whole shebang.

        And that would have just been stupid. *grin*

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        • contoveros says:

          Take the credit. You did the right thing in “fighting it.” Simply pleading “not guilty” guarantees a day in court. Traffic courts in many of the States, particularly in Pennsylvania, routinely allow police officers to represent a state or the “Commonwealth,” thus avoiding the need for a salaried prosecutor.

          Police do the same thing your government rep. did — save the state (in my case, the township) a little in time, money and in manpower while cutting someone a break with the points. The fine is paid in either case, and “we the people” get a chance to see our Constitution work its magic at this level of government. Civics 101 at work while speeding!

          michael j

          Like

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