Missouri  |  Traffic Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 7/15/13, 8:33 pm

In Lone Jack Missouri I was written a traffic ticket which had the description "Expired Plates" and was charged with violating ordinance number 3.169 which reads:

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate in this City a motor vehicle or trailer required to be registered as provided by law, unless a certificate of ownership has been issued.

I entered a plea of not guilty pointing out that the law reads "unless a certificate of ownership has been issued". Once I pointed this out the prosecutor scratched out the ordinance number I was charged with violating and instead put one that better served his purposes of prosecuting me for expired plates, ordinance number 3.165. I objected that the information on the ticket could not just be changed like that but he and the judge assured me it could be. The judge found me guilty and I now have several days to decide if I want to appeal the court's decision. While trying to decide if I want to appeal or not I have found out that the law the prosecutor was citing was Missouri Supreme Court Rule 37.39 which reads:

Any information charging an ordinance violation may be amended at any time before verdict or finding if:

(a) No additional or different ordinance violation is charged, and

(b) A defendantís substantial rights are not thereby prejudiced.

Point "a" of the above Supreme Court rule indicates the ordinance I was charged with violating cannot be changed, but that is exactly what the prosecutor did.

Taking this to appeals court could cost me a lot more than just paying it, but I am a man of principal and I do not believe the letter of the law is being adhered to. I would like to hear the opinion of someone knowledgeable on this subject before I decide if I want to appeal the courts original ruling. I only have a few more days before I have to make my decision, so time is of the essence!

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