No matter what state you are in, it is the government’s burden to prove you are guilty in a traffic ticket court trial. Because of this, the government gets to offer evidence at trial first. Usually this means the law enforcement officer who issued a traffic ticket gets to provide evidence first. When they are done, it is the Defendant’s turn to respond.
Wait! There is a catch here. Wait!
If the government fails to meet their burden of proof, there is no need for the Defendant to respond to anything. The case is won by the Defendant without making a sound, because they enjoy benefit of the burden of proof – and the presumption of innocence.
We are not presumed guilty in America, and if the government can not meet their burden in a traffic ticket or criminal trial, the Defendant wins even if the Defendant has no evidence at all.
How can a Defendant in a typical traffic ticket court trial use this feature of American justice? The same way criminal defense attorneys do.
How do skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys do it? When the prosecution finishes their end of the case, finishes presenting prosecution evidence, the first move is a Motion to Dismiss Based Upon the Fact that the Government Has Not Meet Their Burden of Proof.
Criminal Defense Attorneys nearly always make such a motion at the end of the prosecution’s case, regardless of how strong that case is. Criminal Defense Attorneys do not make assumptions about whether not they will lose, and therefore they make the motion even if it appears to everyone in the room that the government did in fact meet their burden.
|Even in the Whitey Bulger Boston mob case, where the government clearly proved that Whitey and the FBI worked together to kill people, the Defense Attorney tried a Motion to Dismiss at the end of the prosecution’s case.|| |
Why do Defense Attorneys waste their time? Well, first off they might win. You never know what the judge is thinking. Second, there is no harm in making the motion. If the Defendant loses a motion to dismiss at the end of the prosecution case, the trial continues and the Defendant can then present his/her evidence.
There are other benefits that are not so intuitive. For example, if a Defendant loses a Motion to Dismiss at the end of the prosecution’s case, it provides a great basis for appeal if the Defendant feels there were errors of law.
“The Court should have granted the motion to dismiss because the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof, and the appellate court should therefore reverse the conviction.”
How did I learn to type that so fast? It’s burned into every properly trained criminal defense attorney brain.
Another benefit is that during the argument on the motion, a Defense Attorney may be able to glean some clues from the judge’s reactions about what evidence the Defense should target for a response.
A Defendant in a traffic ticket trial usually has to defend themselves, without a licensed attorney. But this should not stop the Defendant from making the motion to dismiss at the end of the officer’s testimony about what happened during the incident.
There is no paperwork required. No law to recite. A simple motion to dismiss of this sort can be made as follows:
At the end of the officer’s testimony, state:
“Your honor, before I provide evidence I would like a ruling on my motion to dismiss based upon the fact that the government has not meet its burden of proof in this case, and that due to the presumption of innocence, I am entitled to a Not Guilty verdict at this point in the trial.”
That’s it. A simple motion to dismiss. It will work for some people, and some people will be happily surprised.
Dont make assumptions. Make motions based upon what is missing from the government’s case.
Why do you want to do it before you present your own defense case? Because you might say something stupid, or give the judge the wrong impression, or no seem credible, whatever. It’s better to take a shot at Not Guilty before you have to provide anything.
You can customize your own motion with argument if you have any. For example:
“Your honor at this time I would like to make a motion to dismiss. The government has not meet its burden of proof, upto this point in the trial. Specifically, there is no evidence at all that I was driving that car at the time of the incident. And there is no evidence at all that the officer’s odometer was correctly measuring the speed of another car, my car. Without that evidence, the government has not meet their burden of proof. I ask for a not guilty verdict on that basis before I have to present my own evidence.”
This tip may give you an extra shot at Not Guilty on a Traffic Ticket Court Trial that many people miss.
Good luck. Questions? Leave a reply.