If you are a New York State motorist charged with speeding, cell phone or electronic device violation under NY VTL § 1225, unsafe lane change under NY VTL § 1128, failure to signal under NY VTL § 1163, failure to yield / move over under NY VTL § 1144, driving while license is suspended under NY VTL § 511, or any other moving violation, you are being formally prosecuted in a court of law. Courts of law, such as the Harrison, NY Town Court or the Mamaroneck Village Court are serious places where rights are protected, facts are developed and issues are hashed out, with the end goal being a fair and just resolution for all parties involved.
So what is a plea bargain, and how does our law firm utilize it to resolve your New York speeding ticket? Before you know and understand what a plea bargain is, you have to understand what a plea is. A plea is defined as a formal statement by a defendant accused of a NY traffic violation, stating guilt or innocence in response to a charge.
If you have been charge in New York State with a cell phone violation, on the ticket there is a section where you can plead guilty or not guilty. Should you plead guilty you do not need us, as you are confessing to the allegation and are demanding the worse possible punishment and outcome from the court, the DMV, and your insurance company. If however you plead not guilty you are saying to the court that you will not roll over and are putting the state to its burden of proof.
You see, there are 2 ways of being found guilty: (1) by confessing your guilt (which we already covered), or (2) by being found guilty after trial. When you plead not guilty, you are not claiming innocence or claiming that the arresting officer “got it wrong.” Rather, you are stating to the court that you want to exercise your constitutional right to trial. In the United States the burden of proof at trial is on the state to prove all elements of the charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Asserting your constitutional rights in a court of law has nothing to do with “my word against the cop’s,” but rather putting the state to their burden of proof to prove the case against you.
However, despite the fact that all of the burdens and work is on the state, and despite the fact that the burden of proof is high, at a trial one can win, or one can lose. While all of this is good stuff for an 8th grade civics class, your sole interest is in not being found guilty as charged so that you do not accrue points and that your insurance does not go up. That is where a plea bargain comes into play.
A plea bargain is defined as an agreement set up between the state and you as the defendant to come to a resolution about a case, without ever taking it to trial. It is a negotiated resolution to plead you guilty to something, just something that does not trigger loss of license, driving privileges, points, and insurance increases.
Example: You are charged with speeding in the Bedford, NY town court for doing 89 MPH on I-684, which is a 65 MPH zone. If you plead guilty as charged, or are found guilty as charged after trial, your total fine and surcharge will be $693.00, you will accrue 6 points to your driving record, your license will be suspended if you have 5 or more points from 1 or more tickets that were written within the past 18 months from the violation date of this ticket, and your insurance rates will increase drastically over the next 3 years.
We enter into the picture as your counsel. We prepare the case for trial so we’re ready to go and they know it. We also prepare a mitigation packing to submit to the prosecutor and use in negotiations. Mitigation can be a lot of different things, such as:
- A clean driving history
- That you recently completed a defensive driving course
- Sometimes, something positive or persuasive in particular about you which is not directly related to the stop, such as volunteer work, etc.
We are also going to fully prepare the case for trial and in doing so usually develop weaknesses in the case. We will highlight the weaknesses of the case to the prosecution, as well as present our evidence in mitigation. The two prongs of strength and mitigation is what gives us the leverage we need to negotiate a deal that does not impact your driving record, insurance rates, ability to drive, and will substantially lower the fine.
In the above example, with a client doing 24 MPH over the speed limit, who has a relatively clean driving record, we are often able to negotiate a plea bargain down to a 0 point, non-moving violation of improper parking on pavement, NY VTL § 1201(a), and in doing so avoid insurance increases, points, and lower the fine and surcharge from $693.00 to $125.00, a savings of $568.00 in fines and surcharges.
Can we do this, or something similar to this, in every case? Well, so long as the court allows plea bargains (traffic court in NY City DOES NOT allow plea bargains so we take every case to trial), the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, we are so confident that we will reduce or eliminate the points you have been charged with that we are the only law firm in New York State that offers a money back guarantee.
If you or anyone you know has been charged with speeding, driving while the vehicle’s registration is suspended, NY VTL § 512, or any other moving violation in New York, don’t delay pick up the phone now and give us a call. We talk to people every day who have been charged auto crimes and moving violations every day, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.