If you were recently pulled over by an officer and issued a citation, you may be wondering what you have to do next, if you will have to appear at court, and if you should obtain representation. A lot of this depends on the specific facts of your matter. Below are a few important things to think about with regard to your citation(s).
Minor / Payable Citations – For Drivers Licensed in Maryland
Most commonly when you are pulled over and given a citation, it will include a minor/payable citation. Citations such as speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, etc. are those citations in which are considered to be minor and carry points and a payable citation fee.
If you have been issued a traffic citation in Maryland, you will have certain time frames and deadlines that you must abide by. The most important is that once you have been issued a traffic citation in Maryland, you are given thirty (30) days to respond to the court with how you wish to proceed with your matter. You may have a few options when responding to the court. You can do one of the following: (1) Request a Trial, (2) Request a Waiver Hearing, or (3) elect to pay the fine amount (if a fine amount is listed on your citation). Failure to respond timely may result in your license being suspended and will require additional action be taken to remediate the matter.
For payable offenses, if the driver chooses to pay the fine and plead guilty, the guilty plea will be entered on the driver’s record and the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may assess points. Drivers who ask for a Waiver Hearing are admitting their guilt but are asking for a hearing to attempt to explain to the judge why he/she should receive a lower fine or probation before judgment (PBJ). When electing the Request for a Waiver Hearing, you should be aware that this hearing is not a Trial. When asking for a hearing, drivers give up the right to have a trial and the officer who issued the citation, will not be present. If you are given a PBJ, the MVA will not charge points for this disposition because it is not a conviction. There is a chance that the judge will charge the driver with a higher fine, not to exceed $500.00 for most citations in Maryland, but some can be higher than $500.00.
If you elect for a Request for Trial, you are doing so to dispute the facts of the matter and requesting the officer’s presence at the Trial date. While it is not mandatory for an officer to attend a Trial, some officers still choose to attend. If such is the case, an attorney can communicate with the officer and negotiate for a reduced citation, points, or that the officer will present no evidence. A trial is similar to a Waiver Hearing in that you can still argue for a reduced citation fine and/or points if you are convicted, and potentially receive a PBJ. The main difference in potential outcomes is that at a Trial, a Defendant and their counsel can argue for a citation to be completely dismissed, meaning that there would be no points going onto the defendant’s driving record and no fine would due. At a Waiver Hearing, a complete dismissal is not a potential outcome.
Minor / Payable Citations – For Drivers Licensed in States other than Maryland
If you have been issued a minor traffic citation in Maryland, you will have certain time frames and deadlines that you must abide by. The most important is that once you have been issued a traffic citation in Maryland, you are given thirty (30) days to respond to the court with how you wish to proceed with your matter. You may have a few options when responding to the court. You can do one of the following: (1) Request a Trial, (2) Request a Waiver Hearing, or (3) elect to pay the fine amount (if a fine amount is listed on your citation). Failure to respond timely may result in your license being suspended and will require additional action be taken to remediate the matter.
If you have elected a Waiver Hearing or a Request for Trial and reside out of state, Traffic Defense attorney Justin Esworthy has experience with out of state residents and may be able to waive your appearance at the hearing or trial. Contact attorney Justin Esworthy to explore your options with waiving your appearance at court.
You should also be aware that if an Out-of-State driver pays the fine amount and/or is assessed points by the court, those points may or may not be assessed on your Out-of-State Driving Record, depending on your State’s laws. Traffic Defense attorney Justin Esworthy has experience with citation reporting in many surrounding states. Contact attorney Justin Esworthy to find out whether you may be subject to receiving points on your license as an Out-of-State licensed driver.
Any driver cited with an offense that may be punishable by point accumulations or fines should consult an attorney.
Serious / Jailable Citations
If you were recently pulled over for a traffic incident which resulted in being cited with a “Must Appear” jailable citation, it is imperative that you meet all deadlines and attend all hearing(s) and/or trial date(s) associated with your case. Failure to appear for a hearing or trial could result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
Citations such as driving on a suspended license, driving without a license, DUI, etc. are those citations in which are considered to be serious and may be punishable by jail time.
Unlike the minor citations, those who are cited with the serious traffic offenses are generally are informed by the officer when receiving their citations that the Defendant must appear at the commissioner’s office within five (5) days of receiving the citation. Serious traffic violations do not require you to elect a trial, as one will be issued for you by the commissioner.
Prior to your court appearance, there are many things we can do now and advise you to do now in order to prepare yourself and your case to have the best possible outcome. While courts may be closed, in addition to many other state agencies, like the Motor Vehicle Administration, we can still prepare your case by completing tasks through online vendors. It is imperative to take the additional time we have been given to prepare for Trial. The more preparation that can be done now, the better a position you and your attorney will be in for Trial.
Any driver cited with an offense that may be punishable by jail time should consult an attorney to learn more about what options may be available to them.
Justin Esworthy is a Maryland criminal/traffic defense lawyer. Justin handles cases in all Maryland jurisdictions including Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County, and the Eastern Shore. Contact Justin anytime at 443-608-5515 for a free consultation about your case.