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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Unhappy What Chance Do I Have of Success

    My question involves traffic court in the State of: Washington.

    Here is my story.
    I am a Scout Master and I was traveling at the head of my troop from Deception Pass where we had camped for the night to Fort Casey where we were to spend a couple hours wandering around. I was driving down Eagle Road towards Fort Casey fallowing about 200ft behind an Island Transit Bus.
    I had two passengers one adult and his son as well as one vehicle with two adults in my party who were fallowing just behind me. I was traveling at no greater than 40mph when I approached a reduced speed sign. I took my foot off the pedal and began to slow down, we reached a 25mph sign before a turn. Shortly after I looked away from the 25mph sign a police officer traveling towards us in the opposite lane passed me and made an immediate u turn behind me. He turned on his lights and pulled me over. He said I was going 50mph when I came around the turn. He ended up giving me a ticket for going 30 in a 25 and proceeded to say that I was slowing down but he made a note that my actual speed was 50. I didn't argue because at the time I did not realize that the speed limit along Eagle road is actually 50mph up until the 25mph sign. The officer lead me to believe that I was speeding from back at the first turn onto Eagle road. It was not until I came back that I saw the 50mph sign going the opposite direction. The adult passenger and the two adults fallowing me all agree that we never even exceeded 40mph in the 50mph zone and we were slowing down after we passed the reduced speed sign.

    I am wondering how I could have accelerated to 50 when my foot was off the gas pedal. And If i were traveling at 50 when the bus was going 25 around the turn wouldn't I have run into the bus? Also we had hardly begun to come around the turn when I saw the officer. The officer said "you were going 50 when you came around that corner back there" this is one reason I was lead to believe I was speeding from the last corner. He also said when he handed me the ticket "I'm going to cite you for going 30 in a 25 because you were slowing down but I made a note that you were actually going 50". The officer did not say anything about an SMD but he did check it on the ticket.

    So I have decided to Contest and I have never done this before so I'm hoping to learn some things from you guys.

    So far I have learned that it many cases it is a good idea to file discovery, subpoena officer, and SMD tech. Would these be good things in my case?
    I don't think I could ask the three working fathers who were with me to take a day off work to go to court with me as witnesses and from what I have heard the judge might just dismiss their written testimonies. I have not had a ticket is 6 years and I may be eligible for a dismissal, so that may be an option. Also what is a "stay". I read somewhere that a stay can give a person 6 months or a year of probation assuming no further citations?

    This is roughly the layout when I saw the police vehicle.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    If you haven't read through this thread yet, you probably should. Then if you have some specific questions, feel free to post them.

    Barry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    I did read your very helpful information. Thank you.

    So as of right now I have not yet sent in the ticket. I read somewhere that it is a good idea to go ahead and send in a check for the bail amount just in case something happens and i cant make it.

    Will I possibly be given the option to choose a date or will they assign one to me? I may only be given a chance for deferral before a case begins right? So what if I submit a Discovery Request set a court date and subpoena witnesses? Do you think I might still be given the opportunity for deferral If i find that the prosecutor has overwhelming evidence?

    This is a question about procedure and wording while in court.
    In the section about Discovery you say "move to have the sworn statement suppressed pursuant to IRLJ 3.1(b), then move for dismissal due to lack of evidence."
    So if I were to take this action in court would I just say something like "I would like to make a motion to have the sworn statement suppressed pursuant to IRLJ 3.1"? Then " I would like to move for dismissal due to lack of evidence."
    I plan on going to my local court house to witness some trials In hopes that it might help me to be a little more comfortable in court.

    Is it helpful or of any use in court to have a map like I put together above?
    I also took pictures and measurements.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    I don't know where you read about sending in "bail". I've never seen nor heard of it being done in WA. We don't have "bail" for traffic infractions -- DUI's, reckless, yes, as they are misdemeanors. But, not infractions. In fact, I heard of one case, where the defendant checked "contested", but enclosed the fine. The court entered a "guilty" judgment because you're only supposed to pay the fine if you do not wish to contest the ticket. See RCW 46.63.070. He was in court trying to get the judgment set aside and the case reopened.

    If you can't make it on your hearing date, you can usually call the Clerk and ask to reschedule. If they won't do it over the phone (some will, some won't), you can submit a written motion for a continuance. Getting ONE continuance is usually not a problem.

    USUALLY, deferrals are only available BEFORE your hearing actually starts (I've heard of a few exceptions, but not many). I've seen judges say, "Everyone who wants a deferral, line up over here." If you don't get in line, you don't get a deferral. Also, some jurisdictions take it "off the table" as soon as you subpoena witnesses. That's to prevent people from subpoenaing the officer, then if the officer shows up, asking for a deferral. So, if you're thinking about a deferral, it would NOT be a good idea to subpoena the officer, nor an SMD expert.

    As far as the wording of the motions, that will do.

    Maps, photos, etc. are part of a defense strategy that depend MOSTLY on what the officer puts in the "sworn statement". When you receive it, for example, you can take pictures from where the officer "says" he was located, showing that he would not have had a clear view of YOU. But, those kinds of questions should wait till you receive your discovery materials -- don't put the cart before the horse.

    Barry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    Well the infraction does say Bail $ with the amount on it so I just mean to pay the ticket. I could send you the article I read if you would like to see it.
    I just called the court and I'm thinking deferral may be the way to go for me. They want me to write a letter and send in the amount of the ticket plus an administrative fee and take a safe driving course. All together that way would cost half of losing paying the ticket plus 30% insurance increase. Besides the fact that I would need to drive an hour and a half one way to get to the court house from here. And I most likely wont be able to get my three witnesses to appear. In a way I would like to go forward just because I know I did nothing wrong but it seems like a lot of work. I guess that's what they want though huh?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    One other thing.

    So the officer said "you were going 50 when you came around that corner back there". My three witnesses and myself testify that we never exceeded 40. Would testimonies of such be helpful? So the ticket says I was fined for going 30 in a 25 but notes actual speed 50, if i were to prove that I was not going 50 could the prosecutor say that I was going 30 and use that against me?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    I think it would be extremely difficult to "prove" you weren't going 50, or even 30, for that matter. About all you can do is offer "testimony". Whether or not the judge "believes" that testimony is another issue. Your "friends" are usually presumed to be biased toward you. The finder of fact decides credibility.

    Island County is the ONLY county (although there may, indeed, be others) I've heard of that charges an administrative fee PLUS the original fine. Here in Kent, you only pay an admin fee (I think it's still around $150). Then if you receive ANOTHER ticket during your deferral period, they impose the original fine, as well.

    Personally, I'd still ask for a contested hearing and submit a discovery request. There are so many little things, such as not filing the ticket within a week, if the officer doesn't write that the radar was in "proper working condition" at the time, etc. that can get the ticket dismissed. But, you won't know unless you receive the discovery materials.

    You can always change your plea to "mitigation" and send in your request for a deferral AFTER you view the materials.

    But, the decision is ultimately up to you,
    Barry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    OK so I can contest and submit discovery request. Then if I find its not helpful I can request deferral?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    Yep. I've known several people who have done that.

    Barry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: What Chance Do I Have of Success

    I have received my Court Date.
    Now to put together the Discovery Request.

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