I was recently pulled over for speeding (the citation reads: in excess of 55mph), and my court date is next month. I planned on fighting it, however I will be out of state due to military training during my court date.
I had contacted the county courthouse DA's office, and apparently the DA agreed to reduce the citation to an improper equipment charge, which is still not what I wanted. According to the receptionist I spoke with, "by order of the judge" the court is not allowing any continuances. Can they really deny me a continuance and essentially FORCE me to plead guilty and pay a fine just because I will be out of state due to military duties? I have already faxed them over info proving I am military and that I will be out of state during the court date.
I am really at a loss for what to do here. I really would prefer a continuance. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
2 Answers from Attorneys
Under the Solders and Sailors Act the Court is supposed to continue any and all court proceedings until you have completed any active military duty, however you would need an attorney to appear for you to make the motion on the court date. If you truly believe you did not commit any infraction of the law then you could pursue this line of litigation. The wiser move however would be to accept the State's reduction to improper equipment as it carries no insurance nor DMV points. You would have to pay the costs and a surcharge of $50.00 for the reduction.
Again, if you believe you wish to fight a ticket which carries no points, then you need to invoke the Solders and Sailors Act, however your time and energies would probably be better spent in other directions. Although the prosecutors office offered the reduction, you do still need to be certain that you get this done before you leave town. Dot the I's and cross the T's or you may be coming home to a Failure to appear or a conviction of the original speeding charge.
You want to fight it? Seriously? I see this every day in traffic court. Let me tell you how its most likely gonna pan out for you. You are going to take the stand and 'tell your side of the story'. Assuming you don't sink your own case with your own testimony because you don't know what you're doing, in the end - it will be your word against a trained law enforcement officer. Who do you really think a judge is going to believe? And heaven help you if that officer happens to be a North Carolina State Trooper. As far as most judges are concerned, a State Trooper can all but walk on water! And rightfully so, they are highly trained professionals with integrity almost beyond reproach - even most criminal defense attorneys are proud of our Trooper's. I digress but hopefully you get the point of what you are up against. Your best bet is to take the offer of Improper Equipment. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth - most people have to pay an attorney or attend a boring driving school for that sweet reduction. Also, while the Solider's and Saliors Relief Act may help you, I have seen some judge's totally disregard it citing that it does not apply in criminal proceedings.