Unless you were charged with criminal speeding and are facing serious penalties like jail time, it is often less expensive to simply pay the fines associated with minor traffic violations than it is to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you. However, there is a third option: you can defend yourself in court if you believe that the traffic ticket was given improperly.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Arizona
If you wish to fight the violation in court, you should be prepared with a defense. The best resource you can obtain for fighting a traffic violation in Arizona is the officer’s notes.
Most officers are trained to take notes when citing someone for a traffic violation. Typically, these notes are taken on the back of your ticket and detail the reasons for why you were stopped, as well as the conditions and other variables.
If an officer knows their notes are inaccurate, and thinks you may be fighting the violation, they may decide not to show up to the hearing. In most cases, an officer’s failure to show up results in an automatic dismissal of charges.
Obtaining a Copy of the Officer’s Notes in Arizona
You have the right to obtain a copy of the notes through the discovery process, which allows for the exchange of important information prior to a trial. In addition to the notes, you can also request copies of police procedure manuals and instruction manuals for speed recording devices.
It is not common for people to make discovery requests for information related to traffic violations, so it’s possible that your request will be denied. If this happens, try reiterating in writing that you requested the information because it is crucial to your case.
Why would the notes be helpful?
By reviewing the officer’s notes, you will get a good idea of how they will testify in trial, as well as how best to prepare your defense. An officer won’t want to get into trouble over a traffic violation, so they will rarely, if ever, deviate from their notes.
What should I look for when reviewing the notes?
- Amount of detail. If the notes are highly detailed, you should be able to identify areas for questioning. On the other hand, if the notes lack detail, you can question the officer on specifics they failed to record. The more times an officer says “I don’t remember,” the better your defense.
- Look for missing details. The notes should include exactly how the officer recorded your speed or other violation, the exact location of the violation, road conditions, which lane you were in, and nearby vehicles.
- Diagrams. Some officers will draw simple diagrams in their notes to show an intersection or other important factors. If a diagram is missing, or the existing one is poor, you can use that to your advantage during trial.
- Statements. Officers usually record any statements you made during the stop. You should check whether the statement is recorded as a quote or approximation.
The criminal defense attorneys at JacksonWhite wish you all the best in fighting your traffic violation in court. If we can be of service for other charges like DUI, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, domestic violence, or other serious criminal charges in Arizona, dial (480) 467-4370 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a dedicated JacksonWhite criminal lawyer today.
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