What it Means if an Officer Tells You To Appear in Court

Speeding Ticket Lawyer

If you have ever received a traffic ticket before, you probably know what to expect when it happens. Even if you have never received a ticket before, you probably still have an idea of what the process is like. In any case, it may surprise you if the officer tells you that you have to appear in court. Can’t you just pay the fine and be done with it? You may be wondering if you really do have to appear in court, or if there are any ways around it.

Is Court Mandatory?

While the laws surrounding traffic tickets do vary from state to state, every state does have circumstances where appearing in court is mandatory. Usually, this is only reserved for very serious offenses, such as:

  • Reckless driving
  • Serious bodily harm or death has occurred
  • Driving drunk
  • Especially serious traffic violations

So, if you receive a speeding ticket, chances are you will not have to go to court unless you want to contest it. However, a court appearance can be mandatory for especially serious versions of mundane traffic violations. For example, in many states, a court appearance is mandatory if you are going 30 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. This behavior is considered reckless enough that a more serious consequence is seen as necessary. The ticket itself will likely have a spot marked for whether or not a court appearance is necessary. However, it is also important to realize that police officers are not the ultimate authority on the matter. Police officers do make mistakes or may be mistaken about the law. If an officer tells you that you have to appear in court, but you think this is incorrect, there is a chance that you are right. Your best course of action in this instance is to speak with a traffic ticket attorney and get their advice.

Not Appearing in Court

If you choose to skip your court appearance, there will be consequences. As much as you would like for the issue to simply go away, that is far from the end of it. The consequences for skipping a court appearance are usually much more severe than whatever the outcome of the trial would otherwise have been. Depending on the circumstances of your offense, your previous history, and the specific laws of your home state, you may go to jail, face a higher fine, lose your license, or, most likely, receive a combination of these punishments. Speak with an attorney to learn more.

Source: Wythe County, VA Speeding Ticket Lawyer, The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt

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