Sunday, June 24, 2012

Avoca Campbell Lawyer If the Cop is a "No Show" is the Speeding Ticket Dismissed?

Photo Courtesy of Corning City Hall
Can you tell the difference between a NYS Trooper and NYS Deputy?

Most people believe that the cops (officers, troopers, deputies) show up to Ithaca Court or hearings regularly. In most non-city Courts (town and village) the cops are usually housed in a separate physical facility.

In Tompkins County, the State Troopers are in Trooper Barracks, the County Deputies are located within the County Jail complex, and police officers have various locations depending on their jurisdiction. In many New York State City Courts the police are in the same or an attached building. This is how it is in Ithaca City Court. Ithaca City Police and the Ithaca City Court are together in one big building on Clinton Street.

Where are the Police?

I am usually asked by my clients, is the cop going to be there? Most people do not want to face their accusers. The physical face to face confrontation is very uncomfortable. While many like to believe that the cops live in or by the Courts, they usually only submit their paperwork to the Courts. This usually occurs via computer these days. After everything is written up, reviewed, and completed it is sent in for Court processing.

Unfortunately or fortunately they do not show up to anything Court related unless they are either subpoenaed (under penalty) to be there to testify against you by the prosecutor (assistant district attorney) OR they are there of their own free will (usually in a DMV administrative hearings on driver license matters).

The TRIAL of a Traffic Violation (ie . speeding) Case

Your case goes through a process of steps. These can occur over a period of days, weeks, or months.


Procedurally in a traffic violation matter, the initial (first) appearance (aka Arraignment) is where you place a plea of guilty or not guilty on the record with the court. This can be done by mail in these lower level cases. Misdemeanor (criminal) cases generally require your physical appearance in Court. This is because these types of charges can result in a punishment of up to one year in jail.


The next step is called a PTC (pre-trial conference). This is usually a set specific time (date) when the DA or an ADA (assistant DA) will physically be in Court to settle and/or discuss cases. There may be more than one PTC depending on the case, the evidence, and any information that may help settlement or negotiations. Usually a specific ADA (is assigned) handles each specific Court. In Steuben County, in the Corning City Court they assign the Police Lieutenant to handle (negotiate) traffic matters. This is not typical but important to know.


If your case cannot be resolved in the pre-trial conferences it must be scheduled by the Judge for a TRIAL. In a traffic case the police are then compelled to be there for trial AND IF they do not show up then you can be an automatic winner. Case is then dismissed by the Court. Depending on the Judge they may wait out the whole Court session (a number of hours) to dismiss the matter or if a City Court case the Judge may only give them 20 or 30 minutes.

PROOF is Always Required

Remember that in a speeding ticket or other traffic violation matter the government's (DA's) main witness against you is the cop. Without a main witness to testify and prove their case, they do not have admissible evidence against you. They can NOT and WILL NOT try you, and find you guilty on the police papers alone (after all this is hearsay evidence).

New York State DMV Hearings versus Traffic Court Trials

In contrast, in DMV driver's license hearings, the Judge can accept hearsay evidence against you or for you. The cops do not have to show to these hearings. The Judge can choose to take all the police reports, and documents into evidence against you. This is because your license to drive is a merely a privilege (not a right) and the Judge (ALJ = administrative law judge) has much more leeway.

So back to the original question, It's as Simple as 1, 2, 3

if the cop, deputy, or trooper is

1. scheduled to be there
2. for your TRIAL and
3. they do NOT show up,

then YOU WIN!  Case Dismissed!

Law Offices of Lawrence (Larry) Newman

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


The picture at the top of this blog comes from the wall of the Corning City Hall.