Unlike in many other states, you will be required to attend a mandatory court hearing to resolve your traffic ticket unless it is a very minor waivable offense in North Carolina. If you are like many people, you may have never attended a court hearing before. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the hearing and achieve a better outcome than just pleading guilty and accepting the consequences.
What to Wear to Your Hearing
You do not have to wear formal clothes like a suit and tie, but you should dress professionally. If possible, wear business casual clothes, and avoid wearing t-shirts, shirts with slogans, blue jeans, or a hat.
Plan to Arrive at Your Hearing Early
You should plan to arrive at your hearing at least 15 to 30 minutes before it is scheduled. This will ensure that you are not late. You will need to find parking, go through the courthouse security line, and find your courtroom, which can all take time. You will make a good impression on the judge if you are on time.
What Happens at Your Court Hearing
The court will schedule many other traffic hearings at the same time as yours, so it could take hours for your case to be heard. Here is what you can expect to happen:
- Talk to the prosecutor. In many courts, the prosecutor will discuss your traffic ticket with you to try to resolve it before you go in front of the judge. This is an opportunity for you to explain your defense to try to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic violation. These meetings move fast, so you need to be prepared to quickly make your points when the prosecutor calls your name.
- Attend your court hearing. If you are unable to resolve your ticket, you will need to go before the judge and enter your plea. If you are pleading not guilty, you will have the opportunity to argue motions, such as a motion requesting that your case be continued so you can prepare for trial or that evidence be suppressed. Depending on the judge, you may have your trial at this hearing, so you need to be prepared with your witnesses and evidence.
- Verdict and sentencing. You will be sentenced by the judge if you plead guilty or are found guilty after your trial. Your sentence should be within the sentencing guidelines for the offense you have been charged with committing.
While it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of what happens at traffic court hearings, your best strategy is to retain an experienced traffic ticket attorney in Charlotte. He can help you build a strong defense to the charges you face and negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf so that you achieve the best possible outcome. He may also be able to attend the hearing without you being present. To find out about our extensive experience in these cases and how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.