Whenever someone is cited or arrested for a crime, some version of the above question goes through their head. They wonder if they should waste their time with court, or if they would be better off just pleading guilty and hoping the judge goes easy on them. In today’s blog, we do our best to answer the above question and give you some options if you decide you’re going to contest the charges in court.
Is It Worth It To Go To Court?
“Worth” is a subjective term. For some people, it’s worth it to stand in line for a half hour to get a free lemonade. For others, they’d gladly pay more for convenience. Simply put, we can’t sit here and say it is always worth it to go to court or always a good decision to just pay the fine or plead guilty. In order to make a determination as to whether it would be “worth it” to go to court, we need to look at some relevant factors.
Jail Time – You may be surprised to learn that even misdemeanor charges carry the potential for jail time. You can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail for a misdemeanor, and the potential penalties only go up as the charges increase. Even if it’s your first arrest, there’s no guarantee that the judge will spare you jail time. If you’re concerned that you could end up spending some time in jail, and how that could affect your job or your family situation, consult with a lawyer.
License Loss – A speeding ticket may seem like something that you should just pay, especially if you were going over the limit when police caught you, but pleading guilty and paying a fine can have unintended consequences for your driver’s license. If you have a few tickets on your record already, it’s probably in your best interest to consult with a lawyer or head to court in your own defense to discuss your options for retaining your license.
Insurance Increases – Another issue people often overlook with traffic violations or drunk driving arrests is how these charges can impact their insurance. Automobile insurance rates will skyrocket after a DUI, and you can bet they’ll increase a bit after a speeding or reckless driving charge. Sometimes the insurance spikes are more costly than the fine itself. If you want to avoid these potential increases, speak to a lawyer or head to court and try to get the charges reduced or dropped.
Your Record – A speeding ticket on your record likely isn’t going to disqualify you from many jobs, but a DUI or drug charges might. Don’t underestimate how a conviction can impact your future because of how your criminal record is perceived. You may not get the chance to explain your side of the story to an employer, so take this opportunity to explain your side of the story to a judge or jury and see if you can get the charge reduced or dropped.
Your Time – This is the point that many people don’t assess correctly. To them, it may not be worth missing a day of work in order to contest the charges, but remember that you don’t need to personally attend. You can send an attorney who can represent you or get a deal done before your court date. Your time is valuable, so let a lawyer go to court and fight the charges on your behalf.
At the end of the day, we advise all individuals to at least take a free consultation with a lawyer to learn more about the situation and your options before deciding whether it’s worth it to contest the charges in court. To set up that free meeting with Avery or a team member at Appelman Law Firm, click here or give us a call at (952) 224-2277.