Rochester Defense Attorney Weighs In: Can You Dispute a Ticket You’ve Already Paid?
Many people almost immediately plead guilty to speeding tickets in order to “get it over with.” Most drivers feel morally guilty in these situations as they know how fast they were traveling. Additionally, for many people, time is a more precious resource than money. They would rather pay a small fine than spend a weekend in traffic court to dispute a ticket. But this is where a Rochester defense attorney may be able to help you.
Many people don’t realize that a speeding ticket has significant collateral consequences. For example, one speeding citation might cause your auto insurance premiums to increase as much as 25 percent.  Furthermore, many people do not know how many effective speeding ticket defenses are available. More on that below.
To answer the questions, technically, a Rochester defense attorney can undo a guilty plea, even if several months have elapsed. But the process is difficult, to say the least. Partnering with an attorney prior to a guilty plea is a much better option. A Rochester defense attorney can usually arrange a plea to a lesser-included offense or even get the ticket thrown out of court.
Setting Aside a Guilty Plea
Different rules apply in different municipal courts throughout Upstate New York. However, in most cases, if the defendant files a request within thirty days, the trial judge can set aside the guilty plea.
Normally, the defendant must show good cause. Examples include a procedural error that affected the outcome of the case, a prosecutor who withheld exculpatory evidence, and a judge who gave the defendant incorrect information about the law.
If the defendant did not have a Rochester defense attorney prior to the plea, there is an outside chance one of these arguments might succeed. But the odds are not good. A defendant could appeal an adverse ruling to dispute a ticket. But appeals courts almost always uphold controversial judicial decisions, unless the judge was way off the rails.
Habeas Corpus Petition
After the time for a motion to set aside a guilty plea expires, defendants could file a petition for habeas corpus. These petitions typically restate the arguments which would have been used in a motion to set aside the guilty plea.
Once again, these petitions have an outside chance of success. That’s especially true if the defendant had a legally incompetent defense attorney. Inexperience does not make a lawyer incompetent, at least in this context. Instead, the defendant must normally show that the attorney was under the influence of a substance or that the attorney was not licensed to practice law at the time.
Rochester Defense Attorneys and Speeding Ticket Defenses
There is a significant difference between moral guilt and legal guilt. Moral guilt is that “I did it” feeling. Legal guilt is a matter of what the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Some possible defenses in speeding ticket cases include:
- Ignorance of Fact: Yes, ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, if the driver did not see a speed limit sign, perhaps because a tree obscured it or it had been vandalized, the speeding charges might not hold up in court.
- RADAR Issues: Most speeding tickets rely on RADAR enforcement. These gadgets are not perfect. They all have a certain margin of error. Furthermore, if an officer aims a RADAR gun at a cluster of cars, the results prove one of them was speeding. But they do not prove which one of them was speeding.
- Reasonable Speed: The posted limit is presumptively a reasonable speed. In some cases, a Rochester defense attorney can convince a judge that a higher speed was reasonable, perhaps because traffic was very light and the sky was crystal clear.
There could also be technical issues with the citation. For example, most city police officers do not have the legal authority to issue citations outside the city limits.
Count on a Dedicated Rochester Defense Attorney
A guilty plea is not necessarily the last word in a speeding ticket case. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense attorney to dispute a ticket if it was already paid, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Home, virtual, and after-hours visits are available.