Let’s discuss the difference between NYC and traffic courts in other parts of NYS. First, no plea bargaining is allowed in NYC. This hurts drivers with good records. In NYC its win or lose and if you lose you can’t explain your way to a lesser fine and lower points: you get the full penalty.
Second, NYC is civil in nature with a specialized administrative procedure found in the DMV rules while the rest of NYS has criminal procedure law (CPL) as the basis for a traffic ticket hearing which protects motorists far more then the DMV procedure does. Third, rules of evidence are relaxed in NYC helping police officers to prove their cases by relying on pure hearsay testimony. For instance, police do not have to offer proof that the radar was calibrated correctly on a speeding charge or that a traffic light was placed properly and or working according to the DOT. This reduces an officer’s testimony to mere words and makes it very easy for him or her to prove their case.
Fourth, in NYC the burden of proof the People have is clear and convincing evidence as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore in NYC the cops must establish the case by 51% making it slightly more likely then not that you committed the offense. This makes it easy again for the police to prove their case against a motorist. Fifth, the appeals process in NYC is civil and administrative according to DMV rules and procedures as opposed to criminal and more protective of motorist rights in most other parts of the state. Typically an appeal from traffic court outside the City goes to the appellate term which composed of competent judges of the Supreme Court system. NYC appeals go to DMV employee attorneys or clerks who typically uphold the decision of the administrative law judge at the trial level. Sixth, general procedure in NYC is to emphasize speed and efficiency over justice and concern for the rights of the accused.
One right you do have in both places is the right to an attorney. This is crucial to prevailing in NYC traffic court.
What can an attorney do in NYC? First, an attorney can be fully familiar with the substantive traffic law which in NYS is generally found in the Vehicle and Traffic Law or VTL. Let’s take VTL section 1111D1 for example. That is a NYC red light provision. The cop must show by clear and convincing evidence (51%) that you went through a red steady red light in NYC.
The police must state:
1. light was working before and after a stop,
2. traffic conditions,
3. weather conditions,
4. type of light whether it was circular or an arrow,
5. road conditions,
6. emergency vehicles or other officers.
The police officer who issued your summons must state at least all of these elements of the offense. If the officer missed one of these elements and the judge is fair, you are NOT guilty. The attorney must really know the substantive law and the points of each offense to emphasis with each particular judge in NYC traffic court.
It is possible to prevail in NYC traffic court. In fact, with an attorney representing you, more often then not your case will be dismissed. You can do it yourself if you want to, but in NYC the professional driver or those who want to save points and money generally use a lawyer who is usually very reasonable in price. Thanks for taking the time to read this article.
Source by Michael Spevack
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