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GENERAL INFORMATION FOR TRAFFIC MATTERS
GENERAL INFORMATION FOR TRAFFIC MATTERS
If you have been charged with committing a traffic violation in Smithfield, the following information may help
Some traffic violations have been designated as non-mandatory appearance matters. If you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for which your appearance in court is not mandatory, you may contact the Court
If you wish to dispute the citation or if you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for your which appearance
If the offense(s) with which you are charged require mandatory appearance and you fail to appear for arraignment a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
How can I keep this ticket of my Driving Record?
Utah State law requires that all convictions be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety, Driver’s License Division. The only way to keep a ticket off your record is not to be convicted on the ticket. If you are found not guilty after trial, you will not have a conviction.
TRAFFIC SCHOOL AND PLEAS IN ABEYANCE
The Smithfield Justice Court does not offer Traffic School nor Pleas in Abeyance for traffic violations.
Points are assessed to your driving record for traffic violations by the Drivers License Division of the Department of Public Safety. Excess points may lead to the suspension of your driving privilege. In limited cases, the Court may make recommendations to the Driver’s License Division, but they are not required to abide by these recommendations. Defensive driving school offered by the Driver License Division may decrease the number of points on your record. You are advised to check with the Drivers License Division
RADAR AND LASER SPEED MEASURING EQUIPMENT
Speeding cases are by far the most common case heard in the Smithfield Justice Court. In those speeding cases, testimony of speed measurement is often offered. Two instruments in particular are generally used to measure speed for traffic enforcement, Radar and Lasers. Radar speed measuring equipment operate by sending radio waves which bounce off an object and are returned to the equipment. Speed is determined by measuring the compression or expansion of the returning waves. Laser speed measuring equipment uses similar technology, but instead of radar waves, it uses invisible light pulses. The light pulses travel at the speed of light and a laser gun can obtain an accurate measurement of a vehicle’s speed in as little as one third of a second. A laser gun can measure a vehicle’s speed at distances up to 3500 feet, more than half a mile away.
While the use of technology can be compelling, it is still the burden of the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, conclusionary, blanket statements by the defendant, such as "I know I wasn’t speeding" or "my car doesn’t go that fast" without some logical basis in fact, do little to help the Court determine what actually happened in your case.
Can I Resolve Matters Through the Prosecutor?
If you have a good driving record and you have been charged with a non-mandatory appearance crime, you may be able to resolve it through the prosecutor's office. You may request to have your case set for a Traffic Pre-Trial Conference so that you can meet with the prosecutor's office when you contact the Court. If you qualify, your matter will be scheduled for an appointment with the prosecutor. You must bring with you a certified copy of your driving record from Utah Driver’s License Division. You should also bring with you any documents or records which will help you, such as proof of registration, proof of insurance, driver’s license, and of repair (in the case of equipment violations).
If after reviewing your record and the offense for which you were charged, the prosecutor finds that you qualify to have your matter resolved, you may receive a reduction in the fine or be offered an opportunity to request that the Court hold your plea-in-abeyance. If you agree to forfeit bail to a lesser charge, you may do so immediately.
The first step in the judicial process for traffic matters is an arraignment. You may waive your right to an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be notified of the charge(s) brought against you, the location, the
You may request appointment of an attorney to represent you. An attorney will only be appointed to assist you
If an attorney is not appointed, you may hire your own attorney or represent yourself. If an attorney is appointed, you may be required to repay some or all of the cost of an attorney. If you believe you will qualify for a court appointed attorney and would like to ask the Court to appoint one to you, you must ask the Clerk for an Affidavit of Indigency. Complete the Affidavit of Indigency and have it ready when your case is called.
Be sure that you fully understand the rights you will give up before you enter your plea.
If you plead not guilty, the Judge will set bail and your case will be set for a trial. You MUST post bail or have a bail bond posted before you will be released. If you post bail by cash or check, the bail will be returned to you when you appear for trial. If you post bail by credit card, the processing fee charged by the credit card company to the city will be deducted from any bail returned to you. If bond is posted by a bail bondsman, the Judge will determine when the bond is exonerated. The Judge may not hear anything about the case at this time as he will be the trier of the facts at trial. Either you or the prosecution may request that your matter be set for a pretrial conference in lieu of an immediate trial setting. Generally, a pretrial conference is helpful if there is evidence available which can be used to resolve a charge without a trial, such as providing proof of insurance, driver’s license or registration.
If your matter is set for a Pretrial Conference, you will have the opportunity to discuss your case with the prosecutor. The Judge may not be involved in this discussion. The prosecutor may offer to reduce the charge in exchange for your guilty plea or no contest plea ("plea bargain"). The prosecutor is not obligated to offer a plea bargain and you have no right to a plea bargain. You are not obligated to accept the offer made by the prosecutor. The Court will not reduce the charge against you on its own motion.
If you and the prosecutor are unable to resolve your case at the pretrial conference, your case will be set for a jury trial or bench trial. The pretrial conference provides you a chance to show the prosecutor any evidence which might convince the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). For example, you may have proof of a driver’s license or registration. You may have proof of insurance or a receipt showing repair of an equipment violation.
After reviewing your evidence/proof, the prosecutor may offer to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). Again, the prosecutor is not obligated to do so, nor are your obligated to accept their offer. If you are unable to resolve the matter, a trial will be scheduled.
PROCEDURES AND RULES FOR TRIAL
In a bench trial, the Judge will hear the evidence presented by both sides, then decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. In a jury trial, a panel of four jurors will hear the case, then they will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. You only have a right to a jury trial if you can be jailed if found guilty. Usually, traffic offenses are not eligible be heard by juries. Non-lawyers who desire a jury trial are encouraged to 1) get an attorney or 2) study the applicable rules, laws and codes governing jury trials. You can jeopardize your rights or liberty if you do not follow the rules.
Typically opening statements are not offered in traffic cases. Since the prosecution has the burden of proof to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, they have the first opportunity to present the case to the Court. The prosecutor will offer evidence to prove that a crime was committed and that you committed the crime.
After the prosecution is done, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story. Either side may present testimony by witnesses or submit documents, subject to the Utah Rules of Evidence and the Utah Code and Rules of Criminal Procedure. After you finish presenting your side of the story, then both sides will have the opportunity to rebut the other side. This is done by presenting additional testimony or evidence. Again, the prosecutor goes first, then you will have a chance to speak. After each side is done, closing arguments are made.
During closing arguments, each side will have the opportunity to tell the Court why they are right. The prosecution proceeds first, then you will get to argue your case, followed by a final argument by the prosecution. The case is then submitted to the Court or jury for a determination as to guilt. If you are found not guilty. Then you are free to go and the proceedings with end.
POSSIBLE SENTENCES AND PUNISHMENTS
If you are found guilty, then you will have the right to be sentenced in not less than two days nor more than forty-five days. In most cases, you may waive this right and receive your sentencing immediately. The Court may order that you report for a pre-sentence evaluation. If the Court so orders, then you will be instructed to report to an agency which will prepare your report.
It is important that you follow the instructions given to you as your failure to comply with the Court’s order may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
The following table shows the range of penalties which the Court may impose:
requires that defendants convicted of certain crimes pay a surcharge of either 35% or 85% of the base fine depending on the crime. In 2004, the Utah Legislature passed a law which requires justice courts to collect a $32 Court Security fee on certain offenses. The Court can explain the base fine, surcharge, Court Security fee and moving violation surcharge associated with any fine imposed by the Court. The maximum fine for any one offense heard in justice courts is $1,882. You can view the Uniform Fine and Bail Scheduleto find out the recommended fine or bail for your offense(s).
You may receive probation from the Court in lieu of a jail term. If the Court imposes probation, the Court will explain to you each of the terms and conditions of your probation. Probationers are not permitted to leave the State of Utah without prior permission from the Court. Probationers are required to notify the Court of any change of address within 48 hours. You must full comply with each term of your probation.
Failure to do so can result in revocation of your probation and incarceration in jail.