Traffic Ticket Defense
I do not market myself as a practitioner who handles criminal defense. I have two lawyer friends who handle those cases routinely and I send those cases to them for their skilled hands to resolve. It is not an area of law I have ever been drawn to so I have handled very few cases over the years.
With that being said, I recently got a call from a client’s son. He is in his late 20’s and is very successful. He drives a bright Red Porsche and has a bit of a heavy foot. I do not drive a Porsche, but I share with same illness of having a heavy foot.
In the past four years, he has gotten four speeding tickets. Some of the tickets were less than ten over; one was 38 over. He said he got another ticket that was 20 over and asked if he should just pay it. I did some digging and found out the following.
In Oklahoma, a driver is allowed ten “points” on a driver’s license. If the driver accumulates more than ten points in any five-year period, the license is subject to revocation. Each offense produces varying numbers of points, depending on the severity of the situation. If the ticket is less than ten, then no points are put on the license. If the driver is charged with and convicted of reckless driving, that driver receives four points on the driver’s license.
My client had seven points not counting the last ticket he called me about. If he just paid the ticket, he would have ten points on his license.
Drivers, as a quick aside, just paying the ticket is not always your best option. I understand it is more expensive to hire a lawyer, but as you can see in this story, it saved my client from some serious frustrations.
I shared with my client I was not sure how I would be able to help. Sometimes, a lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor assigned to the case to get a better deal. Sometimes, despite our best efforts to the contrary, we can’t.
My client also inquired if negotiating a speeding ticket was something I had the ability to handle. For lawyers, negotiating a speeding ticket is like asking a surgeon if they can apply a Band-Aid. It’s just something most of us know how to do.
I called the City Prosecutor assigned to the case. He is a very kind man. I tried to be as kind as I could be and as transparent as possible about my client’s driving history. I did this as I knew this attorney would go research for himself my client’s criminal history so I wanted to show my honesty to another lawyer who did not know me. The City Prosecutor delivered some wonderful news. He told me that all the charges I described with were with the County of Tulsa as opposed to the City of Tulsa. This may not mean much to the average Joe, but what that means legally is the city and county are two totally separate legal entities. This means my client has no criminal history in the eyes of the City of Tulsa.
I presented to the court-ordered hearing without my client (I got permission from the City Prosecutor). I met the prosecutor and reminded him of our agreement. We presented the agreement to the Judge who approved the deal.
Here’s the deal we struck. In exchange for a higher fine, the City of Tulsa reduced the 20 over to a less-than-ten over charge. This means my client received zero points on his license despite having a significant speeding history! There was another charge of improper tag. That was dismissed in exchange for my client paying costs to the Court.
The day after this happened, I went to my favorite Starbucks and saw a colleague of mine who is now a prosecutor in another county. I shared with her the story as we were catching up on what’s new. I said I could not believe we got such an amazing deal and honestly had no idea why. She told me I had discovered the secret to practicing criminal law: be nice to the prosecutor. I looked at her in surprise. I try my best to be nice to everybody. She said not everyone does that. Some criminal defense lawyers belittle prosecutors, are rude, and unpleasant to deal with. She told me that if the criminal defense attorney is nice, then they usually get the deal they want even if their client did something horrible. In fact, she told me she routinely tells folks accused of crimes, “you are getting this deal because of the lawyer you choose to hire.” I was stunned.
If you have a criminal matter, I am happy to consult you. If it is beyond my skill set, I will refer it to one of the two friends described above. Remember, the initial consultation is always free!