Imaginary facts somewhere on the eastern shore of Mars:
Defendant: “I admit that I was traveling more than the maximum speed of 65mph. But I wasnt going 82! I was driving safely with the flow of traffic. There were cars passing me all over.”
Judge Whopnerudy: “Guilty.”
The problem is one of “relevancy”. Does it matter that the other people were breaking the law with you?
|If you see a riot going on and you run into a wallmart to grab a free TV, does it matter in court that 20 other people did the same thing with you? |
If you get caught stealing golf balls at night from a gold course pond wearing scuba gear, would it be a good defense to prove that someone else did the same thing the night before?
Uhhhh .. no. And no. And and no no.
“Relevancy” in general court terms means a tendency to prove or disprove a fact at issue. Things that tend to prove or disprove an important fact are relevant in a court case.
If the central issue in the case is whether or not Defendant was exceeding the maximum posted speed limit, the most important question for the court is “What was the defendant’s speed?”
The speed of other drivers on the road does not tend to prove or disprove the defendant’s speed. All that matters is how fast the defendant’s car was going. That is it.
If the offered evidence does not tend to prove or disprove the defendant’s speed, it is not relevant. Evidence that is not “relevant”, as the California Evidence Code defines it, is not admissible. Other states may have very similar rules of evidence.
What are the main relevant facts in a typical speeding case?
1) Identification of the defendant as the offending driver is one material fact at issue in a speeding violation.
2) The speed limit is also a material fact that is important to the trial.
3) The speed of the Defendant’s vehicle is probably the most important fact.
Those facts are relevant to our imaginary case. There may be other issues, but those listed above are the central facts to be decided by a court in a speeding infraction trial. A Defendant trying to fight an unfair speeding ticket may want to focus his/her efforts in that direction.
We have seen in our comments to articles that it is very common for defendants to have a little trouble figuring out what is not relevant. Here are some samples of information that people often want to provide, but will not help them win a speeding ticket trial:
Where the defendant went to school. What sort of illness the defendant’s mother has. Where the defendant got the car. What happened to the car after the incident. Why the defendant moved and changed addresses. Why the defendant lost his/her job. What the defendant plans to do with the …. anything.
That information is not relevant in a typical speeding ticket trial, and therefore not admissible, because it does not tend to prove or disprove the speed limit, the identification of the driver, nor the defendant’s speed.
Questions? Leave a reply.
Related Self Help Articles:
The Speed Trap Defense
Related Deep Thought:
Judge: “Mr. Defendant, 12 people say they saw you steal that watch. What have you to say?”
Defendant: “Your Honor, I can produce 13 people at trial who will testify that they did not see me steal that watch.”