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“I want to testify at my speeding ticket trial – should I?”

At Palumbo & Associates, PC, our law firm settles most speeding and moving violation cases through a plea bargain, a method by which we negotiate with the prosecutor as to what you are going to plead guilty to. A classic example is when a person is charged with speeding, NY VTL Sec. 1180 for doing 75 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, which carries 4 points . Rather then take the case to trial, we’ll negotiate with the prosecution for a parking ticket under NY VTL 1201,

which is a non-moving zero point violation. But, what happens when, for any reason, we cannot enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution? When that happens, you have 2 choices – plead guilty “as charged,” or take your case to trial. Since in very rare instances you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking your chance at trial, it makes no sense to enter a plea of guilty as charged. So in those instances, your case goes to trial.

WHAT IS A TRIAL?

A trial is the right you have, under the Federal and State Constitution, to force the state to prove the case against you. At a trial you have the right to confront adverse witnesses, called “cross examination,” and also call witnesses on your behalf. Although you as the accused motorist can testify in your own behalf, you do not have to. So clients often ask, or sometimes even insist, on testifying on their own behalf. Whether or not you testify on your own behalf is a call only you can make. In other words, your attorney can advise you on whether or not you should testify, but the decision us up to you.

SO SHOULD I TESTIFY AT MY TRAFFIC TICKET TRIAL?

The answer to that question is “maybe.” Suppose you are charged with running a stop sign. The first question our NY traffic attorneys would ask you would be “can you honestly testify unequivocally that you made a full, complete, and unadulterated stop at the proper location at the stop sign?” Unless you can answer “yes, I can absolutely testify that way,” you cannot testify. And the reason is simple. Just like you have the right to cross examine adverse witnesses, the state has the right to cross examine you. Now, you can take the stand and give a lot of wonderful evidence on your behalf, but on cross examination the first question out of the prosecutor’s mouth on cross examination will be “did you run the stop sign,” to which you can only answer “yes.” And because of that answer, no matter what else happened in the trial, the judge will have no choice but to find you guilty as charged.

BUT I CAN TESTIFY TRUTHFULLY THAT I DID NOT VIOLATE THE LAW. CAN I TESTIFY?

If that is the case, that you did not violate the law, then most likely yes you can and should testify. When this happens, the trial lawyer for our office who will be conducting the trial will meet with you for about an hour a day or so before the trial to fully go over the facts and circumstances of the motor vehicle stop, explain to you in detail the trial process, go over the questions they will ask you, and advise you of the likely questions that will be asked on cross examination.

I know you are reading this probably because you have questions or concerns about a ticket you received or the law in general. Feel free to contact us right now to answer any remaining questions. We can be reached toll free at 1-877-99-No-Tix (1-877-996-6849). We have a 24 / 7 answering service, so we never close. You will always be given the opportunity to consult with not just a clerk, but a licensed attorney, to answer your questions.