So you received a traffic ticket and are now being summoned to attend Florida traffic court. Now what? Different than other courts you may have been to before, Florida traffic court only hears issues dealing with traffic tickets. Another major difference you will notice is the lack of a prosecutor in your case. Rather, the officer that issued your Florida traffic citation will serve as the prosecutor in your case. The officer will simply argue that he issued the ticket because you were breaking the law in some capacity and you will then be presented with the opportunity to defend yourself. Ok, now that you have a general idea…here’s a more specific breakdown of what happens in Florida traffic court:
- Case Called: The clerk of the court will call your case and that signals your time to be heard. Before this time you will likely be sitting in a room with many others waiting to be called.
- Last Minute Motions: Before sides are told, the judge in your case will give you a chance to make some last-minute motions. This will include: request for a continuance, request for a dismissal and request for evidence. It may be that your case will be dismissed before it even starts. For instance, if the officer in your case does not show up to court that day then you can request a dismissal for lack of prosecution.
- Opening Statements: Before presenting any testimony you (or your attorney) and the prosecution in the case will present the court with an opening statement. The opening statement is simply a time to tell the court what you are going to prove (or dis-prove) in the case.
- Prosecution: The police officer in your case will tell the court the nature of your ticket and why he or she was justified in issuing it. When the officer is finished, you will have a chance to cross-examine him or her.
- Defense: Your turn! You or your attorney will have a chance to present your side of the story to the judge in your case. It is often helpful to use diagrams and photos when possible. You will also have a chance to present any witness testimony you may have. For instance, if you are charged with running a red light, you may use photographs of the intersection.
- Closing Statements: Similar to the opening statement, the closing statement is a quick refresher of your case. Each side will have the chance to present their closing statement before the judge comes to a decision. In many instances, the judge will give his or her verdict immediately following the closing statements.
You can find a list of Florida traffic court locations here. At Finebloom & Haenel, we know how frustrating a traffic ticket can be—not only are the fines unreasonably high but points on your record mean an increase in your insurance premiums. We will work hard to get you the best result possible. Give us a call today for a free consultation. We are available day and night and look forward to hearing from you soon!