Traffic Tickets: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Written by Gregory Monte.

Last week I wrote a blog post about yet another useless traffic ticket advice website: More Useless Speeding Ticket Advice. A reader responded with a very interesting comment that I though was worth sharing. In response to the claim on the useless website that:

“If you go to court, the prosecutor has to present evidence to prove that you committed the violation.”

His response was that, unlike in criminal proceedings where you are innocent until proven guilty, the requirement is reversed for traffic violations:

Rather, the law presumes everything the agent said [on paper, the infraction complaint], is true.

Because of the aforementioned presumption, you must prove a negative. That is, that you didn’t do the act described.

Generally, negatives are avoided in true justice systems, because they cannot be proven. That is, you cannot prove you never poached a deer or otherwise broke some law.

There are situations a negative can be proven, such as, if you were a quadriplegic and were accused of punching and kicking a cop on live television in Africa fifteen minutes before you bought a Pepsi in Butte, Montana. But its just more profitable for the courts, counties, and states to presume what the agent said is true.

Keep in mind, if you look up a court rule book, you’ll find it contains civil rules, criminal rules and infractions.

Prior to around the sixties, the latter didn’t exist. Traffic violations were criminal. As such, you had the presumption of innocence and, as said above, the prosecutor had to prove you performed the act cited in the ticket.

Today, one of the best defenses you have, other than the rare proof you didn’t do the act complained of, is policy and procedure [this is the method used in my Traffic Ticket Defense – find technicalities in the law.]

That can be as simple looking to a failure, by the agency and agent (cop) to file the ticket with the court in a timely manner. It might be as simple as bringing several things together. For example, many infractions reference an affidavit or declaration on the back which Is not shared with you and may not exist. As such, it could be argued the agents filed a defective complaint. You can seek, via public record requests to the police agency involved, the policies they look to regarding the completion of the tickets. If they don’t follow their own policies and procedures, you have ammo for a defense.

Free Resources

The Basic Speeding Ticket Defense

This is a 9 page review of the most basic way to beat a speeding ticket – even if you actually were speeding. This particular strategy will almost always work, but it does depend on one aspect of the circumstances surrounding your ticket.  For the strategy to be effective, there must be an issue with the speed limit signs, themselves. It’s all about the need of states/localities to comply with their “Obedience to Traffic Control Devices” statutes.

Click to Download the Free “Basic Speeding Ticket Defense”

Applying the Traffic Ticket Defense Method to Challenge a Citation.

This is a seven-page, detailed explanation of my three-step method for challenging any traffic ticket. I use the “Driving at a Safe Speed” statute from Pennsylvania to illustrate this method, but it can be applied to any other statute that you might be cited for in the vehicle code.

In addition, no matter what state you live in, the procedure is the same: you need to understand the statute you allegedly violated, look for technicalities in that statute and (most importantly) find case law to support/reveal those technicalities.

Click to Download the Free “Applying the Traffic Ticket Defense Method to Challenge a Citation”

The Pennsylvania Stop Sign Defense Strategy in a Nutshell.

This is a one-page, eight-point summary of the strategy I discovered while researching ways of beating unfair stop sign tickets. It is specifically geared to Pennsylvania but can also be applied to most other states.

Click to Download the Free “Pennsylvania Stop Sign Defense Strategy in a Nutshell”

My Son’s Opening Trial Statement at the Court of Common Pleas.

This is an elegant, one-page, powerfully concise expression of my defense strategy.

Click to Download the Free “My Son’s Opening Statement for his Trial in the Court of Common Pleas, Wayne County, Pennsylvania”

The Brief – My Son’s Case Brief for the Court of Common Pleas

  • An eighteen-page argument for why an illegal stop sign is not enforceable.
  • Requested by the President Judge at Wayne County, PA, Court of Common Pleas.
  • A highly distilled application of the Pennsylvania Stop Sign Ticket Defense.

Click to Download the Free “Brief Prepared for Submission to the Wayne County, PA, Court of Common Pleas”


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