Quite a snafu at court today
July 16, 2008 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I just had a court date for speeding. I found out they have a warrant on me specifically due to a legitimate error on the ticket.

I got a speeding ticket during the July 4th weekend. I was given a ticket with a court date of today at a specific time. I planned on pleading "Not Guilty" and showing my GPS readouts indicating I never exceeded the posted limits (regardless of whether or not that defense is legal).

The good part -- I get there and they have a warrant out for me, saying I missed my court appointment. The clerk could not find the date that the court thought it was, just that I had missed it.

I showed her my ticket, which clearly stated July 16. She said, "Hmm, that's strange, it does say July 16." They do not hold court on Wednesdays. I was then rescheduled for Monday.

I asked if the ticket could be dismissed. The clerk said that was impossible without the judge, who would only be there Friday or Monday. Friday is not possible for me due to work. Monday morning is when they deal with the "weekend problems," so she indicated it could be a long wait.

The question: There seems to be some way I should be able to get out of this situation. The clerk of courts said the police officer was probably just confused. Is making me show up at a "false" court date/time legal? Is there some specific legal rule or procedure I need to call upon?

I am in Ohio.
posted by bagels to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i am not a lawyer, but i would assume that you will have to go to court to sort it out.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:16 PM on July 16, 2008

I'd call a lawyer for a consultation, one that deals with traffic matters.
posted by SpecialK at 2:22 PM on July 16, 2008

A police officer who would make a mistake in writing down a court date might not be any more reliable in estimating your speed or even to read a radar gun properly. Just saying, your chance here is to impeach the only witness against you. It's more of a weaselly technicality if they say your car is green when it's brown, but I think the judge might consider your position more thoroughly if the mistake made actually caused a warrant to be issued. Those things go on your permanent record after all (just try running for president some day).
posted by rhizome at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2008

If she could've dismissed it, she probably would have. You could try writing a letter to the judge with your concerns about the mix-up, including the paperwork, but I doubt that this would work, and of course just may piss him off.

No-one likes to spend all day in court on Monday with a traffic ticket, but "I can't do this on the more optimal day" is probably not going to fly.

On the positive side:
* Maybe the cop is still confused and won't show on the new date
* Maybe Monday will be better than Friday because everyone who can schedule for Friday does.
posted by desuetude at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2008

Get out of the situation? What situation? The one where you got a speeding ticket, or the one where you've got a court date? Either way, I'd guess that the easiest way to resolve both situations is by going to court on Monday.
posted by box at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: To clarify, I am asking if there is some legal rule where the ticket must be dismissed due to me showing up for court on schedule while no one else did. I am not worried about the warrant. I have done nothing wrong (verified by the clerk of courts and anyone who can read a date). Of course I will show up on Monday, but I would like the ticket dismissed before I even enter a plea.
posted by bagels at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2008

Drive really carefully between now and then; there's a warrant out for your arrest, so a routine traffic stop can easily turn into an irritating trip downtown.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2008

FWIW I know two people that had tickets dismissed due to court not being held on the scheduled date. I think the clerk informed them of that when they showed up, but it's worth asking a lawyer I think.
posted by piedmont at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2008


To clarify, I am asking if there is some legal rule where the ticket must be dismissed due to me showing up for court on schedule while no one else did.

No. This is called a "mistake" and people -- even courts and lawyers -- make them all the time. Your rights haven't been trampled upon. You've been inconvenienced. You're just going to have to suck it up and deal with it on Monday.

Also seconding jenkinsEar -- unless the clerk was able to get a hold of a judge to clear that warrant, it's probably still out there for you, and if you think the officer who sees that come up on his screen is going to buy "The clerk said it was okay!" you're out of your mind. A traffic stop probably means an arrest between now and your court date.
posted by toomuchpete at 3:59 PM on July 16, 2008

(Because I should've previewed... but didn't, so I didn't see piedmont's comment)

It's entirely possible that this will result in the ticket getting dismissed, but you're probably going to have to go to court to figure it out.

Depending on your jurisdiction, the prosecutor's office might be able to help you, but they're not exactly on your side in t his one... so unless there's some clear rule giving you a get out of court free card, they're probably not going to go out of their way to help you.
posted by toomuchpete at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2008

On one occasion I showed up for a traffic ticket that I was disputing. While I had a notarized witness statement that I did not "roll through" a stop sign, I first pointed out in traffic court that the officer wrote down the wrong color and make of my automobile. That was enough for the judge to throw it out ... even before hearing my testimony and my presenting the witness statement. YMMV.
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2008

Well, usually, if you show up for court, and there are no witnesses against you (the officer in this case), you can ask to have the ticket dismissed, and usually it will be, from my understanding. You could try to argue that you did show up for court, and there were no witnesses present, so the ticket should be dismissed.

You could just talk to a lawyer. They can do two important things for you. First: contact a judge to have the warrant for your arrest revoked. Second: hopefully come up with a better argument than mine for having the charge dismissed.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2008

One thing that may help you out here - if the court date is wrong, that probably means that the officer that gave you the ticket is confused about the date as well. It is possible he won't get notification of the new date or that he won't be able to come that day. If he isn't there to testify, you can plead not guilty and have the ticket dismissed (well, depends on your state's laws, but usually) without even having to resort to your GPS argument.

If the officer is at the court date, you may ask the judge to deal with the warrant issue first to point out the mistake on the ticket, then make your GPS argument.

Whatever you do, make sure that the warrant is definitely cleared up.
posted by ihyperion at 5:17 AM on July 17, 2008

This is what I'd worry about:
>I get there and they have a warrant out for me ...

If you get pulled over by the cops they're going to haul you into jail over the weekend (happened to a friend of mine, who had paid a ticket but the state goofed up and he got arrested for double-parking).
posted by zaphod at 9:12 AM on July 17, 2008

« Older Citrix vs. Webex for Webcast events?   |   Negative Filter RSS feeds?? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.