If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, you may end up with a citation or criminal charge depending on the circumstances. Lower level violations like speeding or rolling a stop sign typically only result in a citation that may not even require you to show up in court, but more serious traffic violations like drunk or reckless driving can result in your arrest.
If you are considering fighting your citation or arrest, it’s important that you know your rights in traffic court. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the rights guaranteed to defendants in Illinois traffic court.
You Have A Right To…
If you are considering contesting your citation or arrest in traffic court, you have the right to:
- An Attorney – Under Illinois law, you have the right to have an attorney by your side if your traffic violation carries jail time as a potential penalty. Even misdemeanors can carry potential imprisonment, so you have the right to hire an attorney to defend your case. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you, although you may need to prove financial hardship before a lawyer will be assigned to your case. In situations where the violation is only punishable by a fine, you have the right to hire an attorney, but one will not be appointed for you if you decide not to hire one.
- To Confront – As someone defending themselves from a charge in court, you have the right to confront or cross-examine the arresting officer or any of the witnesses the prosecution presents. You can also have your attorney do this cross-examination. You also have the right to present your own testimony, evidence and witnesses before a judge or jury.
- Remain Silent – Per the Constitution, you have the right to remain silent, and this silence cannot be used against you in court. You cannot be forced to testify at trial, and this decision to remain silent should not be counted against you.
- An Appeal – Should a decision be rendered that you do not agree with, you have the right to appeal the judge’s ruling. You are required to file any appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court within 30 days of the issuance of the original final decision. It’s also worth noting that no new evidence can be presented during the appeal hearing, so make sure that everything you want to be considered is brought up during your original trial.
While these rights may seem rather straightforward, maximizing their benefit is something that people unfamiliar with court proceedings often fail to do. If you’re considering contesting a traffic citation or arrest, don’t move forward without first talking with a lawyer. At Appelman Law, we understand the stakes and all the financial factors at play. We know that hiring a lawyer needs to make sense financially compared to the stakes of your ticket, so we’ll tell you straight up if it’s in your best interest to contest the case on your own. But if we believe it makes financial sense to hire a lawyer and aggressively fight the charges in court, we’ll do everything we can to win your case for you.
For more information or for answers to questions you might have about your traffic arrest, reach out to Brett Appelman and the team at Appelman Law today.