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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently had the opportunity to sit in at our Town's Traffic Court.
Normal B. S., attorneys get to go first with their clients, then the court's interpreter gets their turn helping "The People". (Yeah, no speaky English and you'll get someone who hopefully interprets correctly enough for you to make an informed decision. On our dime by the way.) I'm ok with the attorneys time in court kept to a minimum so the client doesn't get a huge bill.
Then we get to hear from the People. The Judge reads the infraction, then offers the person a chance to plea to a lesser charge!
Many a first time cell phone user has the chance to plea guilty to, parking by a fire hydrant or parking on pavement. These lesser pleas will also included cases of speeding, DWI, passing on shoulder, crossing a double yellow line, etc. In many of these cases the infraction is a moving violation, a plea of guilty to the lesser infraction is not. Here in also presents the inconsistency of the court to compound first time charges such as cell phone use and DWI to the next higher level.
Why have a heightened level for some offences if you don't get convicted of it the first time?

The fines varied greatly from the max permissible to just court costs. Court costs were often more than the fine!
What bothered me most, here we are in a court room, where you're sworn to tell the truth. Yet, a majority of the people are pleading guilty to something they haven't done! I feel it's a bit of coercion on the part of the court just to clear the docket. A money making racket for the courts, for sure!

(No, I wasn't in Court for myself. I went along with a friend who received her first traffic ticket in over 35 years of driving! "Passed nine cars on a shoulder to make a right on red turn." She took the lesser of the infractions when offered, and wound up getting fined for parking by a fire hydrant, and got off real easy, $40 total! I asked her if she knew she lied under oath, she has no idea this is what she had done. But she was happy to pay the $40 and not have a mark on her drivers record.)
 

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where did you copy this from ..??
it's hard to read
the reason the cell phone tickets were pled down, was simply to keep the $$$ in the Municipality, rather than give to the STATE
 

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When i received a speeding ticket before i had a chance to even say anything the judge said, "im going to enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf, would you like to get a lawyer and come back or consult with an assistant district attorney?" (who was on hand) i requested the ADA and within less than a minute i was offered a non-moving violation of a loud muffler. I gladly accepted since i was not going to receive any points. I paid the $108 dollar fine and went on my merry way. You arent lying, it is just how the court works. Not Guilty doesnt mean you didnt do it, it is just a chance to plea a lesser charge. BTW i never took any kind of oath. Rose for the judge, was asked to be seated and waited for my name to be called. This was in Syracuse City court.
 

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It makes life easy for the court. Throw a bunch of nasty charges on someone and they'll plead down without a fight. Cha ching. Next please.
 

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The artist formerly known as jhm8071
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Like the other posters said, pleading to a different charge keeps the money local. It's a perpetual cycle. The state raises the surcharge, people plead to avoid it, the state raises the surcharge to get more money, people plead even more to lower it, ...

I've never been sworn in when I went to court for traffic violations, so you aren't committing any sort of perjury if you lie or plead to a lesser charge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
where did you copy this from ..?? it's hard to read
the reason the cell phone tickets were pled down, was simply to keep the $$$ in the Municipality, rather than give to the STATE
Your point is well made, as usual. But, wouldn't the local court continue to make money, the second time this person is caught? They'd also get incentive money from the State to keep enforcing this law.
Grammatically hard to read? To many random thoughts just thrown together?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If you think truth and justice apply to today's criminal justice system you are a very naive person.
No, I don't think that. There is no justice in the Court System, it's come down to who can lie better for the longer period of time and has the money to do so.
 

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The one thing I found odd was that the OP included DWI in those charges that can be plea bargained. It's been a long time since I've been in a NY Traffic court but way back in '89, I thought an attorney had told me that "In NY, murder 1 can be plead to 'a bad muffler' if you can get the DA to buy it...but DWI can not be plead down any less than DWAI" (technically that's still a plea bargain )

All the comments on 'the cycle' of things are dead on..."justice" is a commodity today...very sad :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your are not lying under oath it's plea bargin.
Nope, I disagree. Plea bargaining is for a lesser of the same crime. Murder 1st reduced to murder 2nd. Drug charges reduced to lesser offenses. It's not a plea bargain to plea to a non-related offence. It's a lie to plea to something you didn't do at all. Like speeding, you get nailed at 80, you take a lesser amount, say 60. In a 55 mph zone, you've gone from reckless to simply speeding. (That's a plea to a lesser of the same, IMO) Yes, I understand the whole plea thing, I don't morally think it's right. But then again since when do morals come into play?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
...BTW i never took any kind of oath.....
"I've never been sworn in when I went to court for traffic violations, so you aren't committing any sort of perjury if you lie or plead to a lesser charge."

Wonder if that's a loop hole? No oath, no perjury?
 

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Wonder if that's a loop hole? No oath, no perjury?
Possibly, never took individual oaths or a group oath. nothing. Who knows why or why not, obviously its not required in traffic court. This was my first infraction in the city. Only other ticket i ever received was in a small local village court. Didnt take an oath there either.
 

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Nope, I disagree. Plea bargaining is for a lesser of the same crime. Murder 1st reduced to murder 2nd. Drug charges reduced to lesser offenses. It's not a plea bargain to plea to a non-related offence. It's a lie to plea to something you didn't do at all. Like speeding, you get nailed at 80, you take a lesser amount, say 60. In a 55 mph zone, you've gone from reckless to simply speeding. (That's a plea to a lesser of the same, IMO) Yes, I understand the whole plea thing, I don't morally think it's right. But then again since when do morals come into play?
The bargain is whatever the DA offers. No one is required to take it. You can decline the offer and go to trial if you so choose.

I was pulled over for speeding a few years back. The judge knocked it down to failure to obey a traffic control device. Pay your fine and no points. I was more than happy to take it, as a license is required for my employment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You will be sworn in if you go to trial on the charge as well as the officer that issued the summons.
So why not before this point? What makes going to trial diffrent? Are you not afforded your rights untill it reaches the point of a trial?
 

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The artist formerly known as jhm8071
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I was pulled over for speeding a few years back. The judge knocked it down to failure to obey a traffic control device. Pay your fine and no points.
Failure to obey a traffic control device is 2 points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The bargain is whatever the DA offers...
Ok, but the deal doesn't always follow the nature of the alleged crime, and that's my problem. I guess if you're a criminal you try for the best deal possible. You're morals have all ready been flushed so what's a few lies on top of it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Failure to obey a traffic control device is 2 points.
Yeah, I thought the same thing. Running a light, failure to stop at a stop sign are moving violations.
 
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