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View Full Version : Filling out a ticket improperly

04-25-04, 12:52 AM
I recieved a speeding ticket the other day. When i read over the speeding ticket he had my car written down as a Pontiac, but it is not a Pontiac. My car is an Oldsmobile. Will my ticket be thrown out because he did not fill my ticket out properly?

Thank you all for your time!

04-25-04, 01:12 AM
Bah! Cross-post!

04-25-04, 11:12 AM
No. At least not in Michigan.

04-25-04, 12:09 PM
No!!!!!!!!!!!!! The officer can amend the ticket.

04-25-04, 12:32 PM
He can amend the ticket?? What the heck... What about in Michigan? I once received a ticket in Michigan for driving without headlights on, AND driving on expired tags. I admit I forgot to turn my headlights on (the road was brightly lit, and I realized once I looked at my speedometer).... but my tags WERE NOT expired. When I explained to the officer, he said that he'd already written it, and couldn't take it back. I had to take a day off work and go to court to fight it, and won!

04-25-04, 01:39 PM
One way you might be able to capitalize on an improperly filled-out ticket is if you go to a trial and you have the officer testify as to the incorrect information. This would require that the officer testifies from his notes (technically hearsay, as I understand it) instead of using the notes to refresh his memory and testified from memory...

It would also require that the information that is incorrect is significant enough to cast doubt on the ticket. In your case I say that it is not.

Pontiac and Oldsmobile are both divisions of General Motors, and ther sahre the basic platform for many cars. If you confuse an Oldsmo Alero with a Pontiac Grand Am then the judge is not going to question whether the officer is talking about your car. If he wrote down Ford F150 and you were driving a Nissan Sentra and you can get the officer to testify on the stand that is was an F150, and then prove that you have no access to any F150 and you only have a Sentra andf there's no way an officer an mistake the two, is there? SO you would be trying to make the suggestion that the stop never happened (and you would have to do that without SAYING the stop never happened, which is perjury, and not answering any direct question about if the stop ever happend , ie plead the 5th) then you could create doubt in the judge's mind as to whether the stop even happened.

Theoretically that should work, but I've never done it and it's a long shot. It would be very difficult to make a judge doubt whether the officer is telling the truth about the stop at all. You're trying to make the judge lose faith in the officer's credibilty, which is a very difficult thing to do because cops are overwhelmingly honest and credible and the judge knows it.

Having said that, the kinda of thing that you could get the officer to testify to that can cast doubt on the validity of the ticket would be an incorrect date/time (and you can provide a solid alibi as to your whereabouts at the date/time stated...)

04-25-04, 01:51 PM
He can amend the ticket?? What the heck... What about in Michigan? I once received a ticket in Michigan for driving without headlights on, AND driving on expired tags. I admit I forgot to turn my headlights on (the road was brightly lit, and I realized once I looked at my speedometer).... but my tags WERE NOT expired. When I explained to the officer, he said that he'd already written it, and couldn't take it back. I had to take a day off work and go to court to fight it, and won!

He can't make the ticket disappear, but he can amend it to show different information. And if he found out after the fact the the ticket was issues incorrectly then he should be able to either talk to the prosecutor and have them officially dismiss the ticket, or show up to court and tell the truth on the stand as to what he now knows about the validity of the ticket.

Why did he issue an out-of-date tag ticket when your tags were not out of date? Maybe you got the new tags but didn't put them on yet?

04-25-04, 02:00 PM
To add, I have been given 3 tickets in this country and all of them have had some problem. In one my dark green car was listed as black, in another the location of the stop was incorrect (westbound lane of the freeway instead of the eastbound lane) and the worst was a ticket that was issued about half-a-mile outside of the officer's jurisdiction but the road I wa son was well-known for speeding so the officer was able to get more tickets there.

In the first two cases it wasn't worth me fighting because I didn't think I would be able to capitalise on such a small detail. In the last case I would have had to travel to to courthouse and miss a day of work, which was more than the cost of the ticket. I didn't even research enough to determine if the jusridictional line was an absolute barrier.

04-25-04, 02:16 PM
They were current tags, clearly displayed on the license plate. As for why he issued it? He had it out for me from the beginning, because he thought I was running from something (because I was driving without my headlights on).... I guess he figured he'd get me the best he could.

04-26-04, 08:54 PM
I have never seen an incorrectly filled out ticket dismissed because of that type of error. I've see wrong locations, wrong codes, wrong speeds, wrong vehicle descriptions, and a host of other errors. I've never seen anyone haul a lawyer into court to fight a ticket with an error (that might have some effect, but $$$$$$), but in all cases the court was satisified with the testimony of the officer about the error and the correct facts.
The judge will say something like "Let the record show the complaint is ammended to ..." And off you go with your trial, no big issue for the prosecuter to overcome.

Even in serious criminal cases an error on a complaint will not get your case thrown out. It will be ammended.

I suppose a lawyer would try to get the officer to testify to the facts as written on the ticket, then point out the error in hopes of throwing doubt on his whole testimony, but for most traffic tickets that is a long shot and an expensive one at that.

You could try it yourself. But I see it going something like this.

Prosecutor: Officer where are you employed?
Cop: Alabama Highway Patrol
P: Were you on duty on the night of April 6th at about 7pm?
C: Yes
P: Were you anywhere near Highway 6 mile 8?
C: Yes
P: Did you happen to come into contact with a green Pontiac?
C: Yes
P: And what were the circumstances?
C: My radar picked up the car doing 65 mph in a 55 zone.
P: What did you do?
C: I stopped the car and gave the driver a speeding ticket.
P: Do you see that driver in the courtroom today?
C: Yes
P: Can you point him out to the court?
C: He's the Chineese gentleman sitting at the table in the purple pants and orange shirt.
P: Let the record show that the officer identified Mr. O'Mally.
Judge: So noted.
P: And you issued Mr. O'Mally a citation for speeding 65 in a 55 zone?
C: Yes
P: No further questions
J: Your witness.
O'Mally: Officer, you said I was driving a Pontiac.
C: <<silence>>
OM: <<looks around, puzzled>>
J: You have to ask a question.
OM: Was I driving a Pontiac?
C: When?
OM: When I was speeding.
C: Yes.
OM: I don't own a Pontiac.
P: I object.
J: Objection allowed. Mr. O'Mally, ask questions of the officer, don't testify.
OM: But I don't own a Pontiac.
J: Mr O'Mally, you will have your chance to testify. Right now you need to ask the officer questions that pertain to this case. Do you have any other questions?
OM: Ummm, I,,, umm, no sir.
J: Officer, you are dismissed. Mr. O'Mally, now it is your chance to testify in your defense if you wish.
OM: Yes your honor, I don't own a Pontiac, I own an Oldsmobile.
J: The citation says a Pontiac, but you say you have and Olds?
OM: Yes sir.
J: Mr. Prosecutor?
P: Yes your honor, it does seem that the citation is incorrect in the make of the vehicle. The license number and color are correct but DMV records do show it as being an Oldsmobile, not a Pontiac. Obviously the officer made an error here.
J: OK, are you requesting the citation be ammended to show that?
P: Yes your honor, from a Pontiac to an Oldsmobile.
OM: Your honor can't I get the ticket dismissed? I don't own a Pontiac.
J: I'm not going to dismiss the citation, we are going to amend it to show the correct vehicle. Do you have any further testimony Mr. O'Mally?
OM: Um, no sir.
J: Mr. Prosecutor?
P: Mr O'Mally how fast were you driving?
J: Ah, I'm not going to allow that question, he didn't testify as to any driving.
P: Sorry, no questions.
J: Closing?
P: Waived
J: Mr. O'Mally?
OM: <<silence... looks around>>
J: Mr. O'Mally, do you have anything to say in closing?
OM: No sir, I just thought I would get the ticked dismissed because I don't own a Pontiac.
J: I'm going to find you guilty, I am going to fine you $132 plus a $35 court administrative fee. Please see the clerk before you leave. Next is, OK wait, we've spent some time on this one, let's take a five minute recess.
Baliff: All rise.

04-26-04, 11:38 PM
Reminds me of a case I had. I cited a woman for failure to maintain lane travel, and expired registration (about 7 months expired) after she was involved in an accident. She said at the scene she didn't own the car, I explained to her that she was driving it and she was responsible for it.

She plead not guilty to the expired registration.

Court time was set for 10:00 am. This is the first case up.
P: Did you have the opportunity to come into contact with Mrs Smith on 03-2003?
Me: Yes.
P: Was she involved in an accident where you issued her a citation for expired registration?
Me: Yes.
P: Was the vehicle registration expired 08-2002?
Me: Yes
P: Nothing further.

MS: takes the stand.
P: Mrs Smith, were you driving this vehicle on this date and issued a citation for expired registration.
MS: Yes, but it wasn't my car and I didn't know it was expired.
P: But you admit you were in control of the vehicle?
MS: Yes.
P: Nothing further.
Judge: I find Mrs. Smith guilty of expired registration.

Time I walked out the court room door. 10:07 am. :) I was paid 3 hours for 7 minutes.

04-27-04, 12:48 PM

Can a prosecutor ask a Leading Question during Examination-In-Chief in your jurisdictions? I though that was limited to Cross-Examination and Re-Cross...

For the benefit of those who don't know... A Leading Question is a question the includes the facts that you wish the person to testify to, leaving him a simple answer that is less credible than having the witness state the facts directly themselves.


P: Was she involved in an accident?
O: Yes.

P: Please describe the circumstances surrounding your making contact with the defendant...
O: She was in an accident that I was assigned to.

04-27-04, 08:59 PM
In California there is no Prosecutor in traffic court. The issuing Officer is the Prosecutor.

04-27-04, 09:10 PM
In PA, we too are the " DA " in any traffic court setting including pre-liminary hearings for Misd and Felony charges. We can request a DA attend for a felony and usually have no trouble getting one but for a summary traffic or a Misd ,we are on our own. It isn't a big deal after we have done it for a while. We testify, enter evidence, cross examine witnesses, object to defense questions etc. It is kind of fun actually. I love to object any chance I get :) I love to frustrate lawyers who aren't used to officers continually raising objections. :)

And we / they can ask anything we/they want. It is up to the prosecution/defense to make objections to a question etc. I don't go overboard on leading questions but I have done it on occasion. ALL defense attorney's push the envelope any chance they get, just like you see on " Law and Order".

04-28-04, 11:19 AM
if it were a parking ticket in NY you could probably get out of it, but I guess that doesn't help you. Oh, and I have good news: I just saved a bundle on my car insurance.