In New York, does a Defendant Have to Appear in Court to Fight a Traffic Ticket?

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.

The short answer is no. New York law allows for an attorney to go to court instead of their client. The attorney needs to prepare an authorization allowing the attorney to adjudicate the case without the client. This does not present a problem in the vast majority of cases. A typical traffic ticket is reduced significantly via plea bargain and the defendant and the prosecutor remain happy with the result.

Some judges and some prosecutors are strict and the reduction offer in their court is minimal. In such scenarios, a good traffic ticket attorney will take the case to trial as there is little to lose by being found guilty as charged. In general, judges, prosecutors, and police officers do not like trials. It takes up their time. More importantly everyone has to be worried about the court record and being embarrassed by being overturned on appeal. Some judges and prosecutors began employing a tactic to stymie the defendant’s attorney. They required that the defendant personally appear at the trial. Ostensibly this was to ensure that the defendants are apprised of their constitutional rights. However, the real purpose was to intimidate the defendant to accept the minimal plea offer or be forced to travel to the court from a great distance.

In a decision dated May 30, 2019, the Steuben County Court Judge was decisive in his ruling. In People v. Bollu, Judge Philip J. Roche confirmed that for traffic tickets a defendant can choose not to appear for trial. Appearing at a trial is a constitutional right and for the benefit of the defendant. In New York State, a defendant is allowed to waive that benefit. This decision cites numerous case law in support of its ruling and is well written. The law is clear that prosecutors and judges should no longer be allowed to require the appearance of defendants at trials.

Many motorists receive traffic tickets in New York but live a great distance from the court. You can get your charges reduced or dismissed without appearing personally in court. Any necessary court appearances can be done by your attorney. For more detailed information, you can contact the Benjamin Goldman Law Office.

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Disclaimer: All the content of this website has been prepared by Benjamin Goldman Law Office PC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information on this website shall not be construed as an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create, nor shall the receipt of such information constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Our hope is that you will find the information useful and informative, and we would be happy to communicate with you and answer any questions you may have about our legal services. Readers should not act upon the information on this website, or decide not to act based upon the information on this website, without first seeking appropriate professional counsel from an attorney licensed in the home state of the drivers license of the person who received the relevant traffic citation.