You’re driving along and thinking about a dozen other things than your driving. Suddenly you see blue lights behind you and you immediately think, “Oh, no. What did I do?” Now, if this happened to you 20 years ago, you may not have been full of dread at being pulled over. These days, however, you know that you are probably going to get a ticket, regardless of what you may or may not have being doing. Blame it on rising crime rates making cops more cynical and suspicious of everyone, or maybe there’s greater pressure from within law enforcement agencies to write tickets or execute arrests. Either way, unless you get darned lucky or have a good traffic ticket attorney, the odds are that any type of traffic stop is going to cost you.
As a traffic ticket attorney, I see a lot of this. I can’t help but wonder what ever happened to “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” (the burden of proof is on him who affirms, not he who denies). If the burden of proof is on the accuser, it stands to reason that there is a presumption of innocence on the part of the accused. This is the primary premise of our entire legal system, yet when it comes to traffic citations, the mass number of drivers who get traffic citations end up paying the consequences. Unless you have a traffic ticket attorney or figure out a way to get your ticket dismissed on your own, you will pay the fines, get the points, suffer the insurance rate hikes, end up spending the day in traffic school, or a combination of some or all of those penalties. That’s right, I said penalties. You know, as in punishment for being found guilty of something when there is little evidence against except an often faulty machine or a cop’s word. Sounds a lot like being presumed guilty of committing the violation for which you got the ticket.
The burden of proof is critical to our legal system and can become quite complex. For this reason, it is a subject that we spent a lot of time studying in law school. Since the vast majority of drivers who get traffic tickets don’t have the benefit studying this concept, let me share some of what I have learned.
Whenever we think about presumed innocent, it goes hand-in-hand with “innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.” When someone is charged with a crime where their life or freedom is on the line, the government must prove every point of their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is a degree of uncertainty to which a reason can be assigned. This means that the state has to prove its case to a degree that any rational person would consider the accused party guilty of the crime. Although this is not a constitutional right, it is the accepted standard of the U. S. Supreme Court. Fortunately for you, if you receive a traffic ticket anywhere in South Florida, this standard can be used in court to defend you in court by a traffic ticket attorney.
When you appear in court, it’s the responsibility of the police officer to convince the judge that you were committing the driving infraction of which you were accused. It then becomes the job of your traffic ticket attorney to create reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge. We do this in a variety of ways. By example, if you received a speeding ticket, we challenge all the aspects surrounding the citation. Is the speedometer or laser gun accurate? Is the officer’s testimony consistent? Does the officer have a history of deception or writing erroneous tickets?
Placing a reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge doesn’t mean he has to certain that you were speeding, but he needs to be almost certain that you were. That’s why your behavior and how you present yourself are critical in court.
Another important standard that is used in civil court, excluding traffic court, is the preponderance of the evidence. This standard requires one of the two parties involved to prove that is it 51% more likely than not that their claim is true. Obviously, this is a much easier standard to achieve than beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because the stakes are lower – you are only likely to suffer a monetary loss or the loss of property, not the loss of life or freedom.
An example of preponderance of evidence would be one neighbor being bitten by another neighbor’s dog. You’re responsible for convincing the judge that it is more likely that it was the neighbor’s dog that bit you than another dog. Once you have done so, you also have to establish the damages you suffered in a monetary sense. Your neighbor can also put up an affirmative defense. This is your neighbor’s attempt at showing justification for the dog bite, such as trespassing on his or her property or harassment of the dog.
Fortunately, as traffic ticket attorneys in South Florida, we handle many types of traffic tickets to which presumption of innocence can apply and be proven in court. Three years of law school and many years of combined experience have made us adept at convincing judges that the police officer failed to meet his burden of proof. So, give the Traffic Ticket Team a call at 954-967-9888, and let us successfully defend you by establishing “reasonable doubt.”