NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #36

Think Twice Before Asking For That Continuance

It has become standard advice to ask for a continuance when you receive a traffic ticket. The theory is that the delay improves the chances the officer will miss the trial, and this is generally true. Another reason is that it will give the defendant more time to gather material and build his or her defense. However, asking for a continuance is not always the best move.

If your state has a “speedy trial” law you are entitled to a trial within the confines of that law. For example, in California the law specifies that the defendant must be given a trial within 45 days of being cited for the offence. However, you waive your right to a speedy trial if you request and are granted a continuance.

If the prosecution requests a continuance, you should object, so as not to imply that you concur with the request for a continuance. Once time elapses past the last day allowed by the speedy trial statute you can make a motion to the court requesting a dismissal for failure to provide you a “speedy trial,” as required by state statute XYZ.

Therefore, before you take any formal action on your ticket do a little research and find out if your state has a Speedy Trial law. Find out how this law is applied and determine if it is applicable to traffic tickets. If it is, you have one more tool to defend yourself against revenue inspired law enforcement.


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