Just because you’re GUILTY does not mean you’re GUILTY

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Too often people get pulled over, officer friendly issues any number of citations, people let the citations sit around for a awhile then on about the 29 day after the citation was issued people either over-night the check to the clerk of the court, or elect the traffic school. People don’t pay attention to the citation, or more importantly the specific statute the officer friendly wrote on the citation.

Case in point:

Defendant driver was travelling on east on 2-lane road. The defendant driver approached a 4-way stop. As he approached the 4-way stop no other vehicle were present. Like so many people before, the defendant rolled through the stop sign without coming to complete stop. Just as defendant driver was rolling through the stop sign, officer friendly was traveling north towards the same intersection. Officer friendly witnessed the defendant driver fail to stop at the stop sign. He flipped on his light and conducted a traffic stop. He approached the vehicle asking the standard questions and before defendant driver had a chance to even blink he was handed a citation.

The defendant felt like most people: “I got caught; I should have stopped at the stop sign”. The defendant let the ticket sit around for a few weeks before thinking about what to do with it. The defendant was not eligible for the traffic school because he had already taken the class within the last 12 months. He decided to call an attorney to see if there was any way to defend the ticket. After consulting with Tampa traffic attorney Jeff Rich he was informed that he was absolutely guilty for running the stop sign and there was no defense for that traffic infraction. However, the attorney informed the defendant that there was great defense to the citation. Traffic Attorney Rich went on to explain that the statute that the officer wrote on the citation was for failing to yield the right away at a four way stop. Since there were no other vehicles at the four-way stop at the time he rolled through the stop sign, he was not guilty of the statute the officer wrote on the citation. He was absolutely guilty of running the stop sign, but that was not what he was charged with.

Attorney Rich set the case for a hearing. At the hearing the officer was present and presented his case. He testified that he witnessed the defendant driving the vehicle and “blow through the stop sign”. At no point in his testimony did he indicate that there were any other vehicles present at the stop sign. The defendant also testified that there were no other vehicles coming in any of the other directions into the intersection. At the conclusion of the testimony the attorney argued that no evidence was presented that there were any other vehicle in the other 3 directions, therefore it was legally impossible for the defendant to be guilty of the infraction that he was cited for. The failure to yield statute requires that a vehicle must yield to another vehicle that arrives at a four way stop first. Without any evidence of another vehicle there was nothing to yield to. Attorney Rich conceded that the defendant was absolutely guilty of running the stop sign, but that was not what he was cited for. The Judge agreed and the defendant was found NOT GUILTY for failing to yield.

So take a lesson from this case: just because you are GUILTY does not necessarily mean you are GUILTY (at least of the citation that you are cited for).Always consult a Tampa traffic attorney on your case!

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