Road Law – August/September 2019
The appeal of appeals
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
This column is not about one big case. It is about the daily practice of appealing decisions from courts that are not courts of record. Prime examples of these types of courts are justice courts, justice of the peace, traffic courts, and administrative tribunals. In these particular courts, there is usually not a record of the hearings that is made for appeal purposes, and if you are not happy with the result you have the right to appeal your case to another court for a brand new hearing.
Q: I went to court on a traffic citation I received in the state of Pennsylvania, and there was no prosecutor to discuss my case with. I tried to discuss my case with the officer who wrote the ticket, but he would not agree to reduce the charge. What can I do now?
A: It is often difficult to get relief from the citing officer in courts where they are charged with prosecuting their own traffic tickets. While some will work with you, most do not, and the typical result is a conviction of the original charge.
In your case, you have the ability to appeal the case to the next level court and have a brand new hearing, where there will be an assigned prosecutor that you can discuss your case with. The officer may still play a role in whether the prosecutor is willing to amend your citation, but he or she is not the one handling the case at this level.
In order to successfully appeal your case, you will need to get the necessary appeal form and submit any fees due for the filing of the appeal within the proper time period. Unfortunately, appeals in this state generally don’t stay or prevent the conviction from appearing on your driving record as it does in some states. So expect to see the conviction appear on your record until the outcome of the appeal.
Q: I was found guilty by the justice of the peace court on my Texas traffic citation. Can I appeal my case?
A: Yes. You can appeal a justice court decision to the appropriate county court in Texas. Normally, you have to notify the justice court of your intent to appeal and ask that an appeal bond be set. The amount of the bond is usually double the original fine amount and may need to be paid in cash or, if you are a resident of Texas, the court may allow for a surety bond.
Once you have complied with the appeal requirements, your case will be transferred to the county court and a new date set for your hearing. Once you receive notice of the new date, it is a good time to contact the county attorney to discuss plea recommendations for your case.
Q: I was convicted of a traffic citation in Virginia. Can I appeal my case?
A: Yes. You have the right to appeal your case from a general district court to the circuit court as long as you comply with the appropriate appeal deadlines. If you happen to have missed the appeal deadline, then you can ask the court to accept your appeal out of time or ask the court. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or contact us via RoadLaw.net.
This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone’s legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.