Going to Traffic Ticket Court

Did you just receive  a traffic ticket and  not hiring a traffic ticket attorney?  Then you might need to some advice.  Here is a mini guide on what to expect.

First things first, what traffic court do you have to go to?  There are eight different traffic ticket courts in the Las Vegas Valley.  Each police department can issue a traffic ticket in any jurisdiction if you are pulled over in that court’s jurisdiction.  So, where you received the ticket will determine what Court you will have to attend.

Look at the bottom of the citation, you should have signed and given a court date, this section should also identify the Court.  Citations in Las Vegas Justice Court and Las Vegas Municipal Court are located in the same building, on the same floor.  In fact, they are in the same space, Justice Court is the first 15 windows and Las Vegas Municipal Court has windows 16 through 28.

Ok, time to go to court.  The traffic ticket court for Las Vegas Municipal or Las Vegas Justice is called the Regional Justice Center.  The address is 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101.    There are several options for parking.  All of them cost money, so be prepared with quarters or a credit card.  There are spaces to the south of the court house on quarter meter parking with no cover.  Street spaces are also metered and uncovered.  Covered parking is available on the East and North side of the building, and is more expensive.  There are some phone apps that are helpful in paying to avoid the line at the main parking stations.  Remember, you are about to enter a secure building and will be required to go through a metal detector, leave any weapons or pepper spray in the car.

The main entrance is on the Northeast side of the building and a security check is directly inside.  The entrance on the South of the building is for ticket attorneys, employees and jury members.  Go through the scanners and proceed south just past the elevators and you will see the traffic ticket area.  Just inside the door is a machine that will dispense your number.  Pick the court you need to appear in and get your number.

Both the Justice Court and Municipal Court will announce the next number being serviced, as well as posting the numbers and windows for each court in their area.  When your number is called, proceed to the window assigned.  Some traffic tickets you can negotiate at the window.  They will offer you a full fine and traffic school or a higher fine to get a reduction to illegal parking.  Having the court amend your charge to illegal parking is important because it stops the court from reporting the moving violation to DMV.  Most of the time the citation will not be amended until you pay the fine in full.  So don’t be late, you will lose the chance for the amendment and end up in warrant.

If you have had citations in the last three years in either of these courts, you may not be able to get the deal you want at the window.  It is time to see the Judge.   Ask the clerk for a court date. The window clerk will check you in for the next available session with the Judge.  If you are there early in the morning you should get into a session the same day.  If not, then you will have to make another trip to court.

Once you are actually in the court room, the Judge will call your case.  Most traffic sessions have between 30 and 60 defendants in them, so it may take some time.  At this point the Judge only wants to hear one of three options, guilty, not guilty or no contest.  The “deal” will probably be the same that was offered at the window, so not guilty is the way to go if you want to talk about your case.  Once you enter a not guilty plea, the clerk will schedule you for a pre-trial.  This may happen right away or it may be scheduled on another date.

Pre-trial is the time to discuss your case with a deputy city attorney or deputy district attorney depending on which court you are attending.  Keep your story short and to the point, they most likely have several pre-trials scheduled and they have heard it all before.  So make your point in a concise manner and they will then tell you your options.  Sometimes the “deal” is a little better than the window, and if you like it, take it.  This is probably the best deal you are going to get.  If not, then maintain your not guilty plea and they will schedule a trial date.  The date will be somewhere between 4 weeks and 3 months, depending on the court’s calendar and judge’s schedule.

Your trial date is the last time you have a bite at the negotiating apple.  Don’t count on the officer not showing up, in twenty plus years of setting trials I have not experienced a no show for the officer.  If for some reason the officer doesn’t show, the court will grant one continuance to the prosecution and you will be scheduled for another trial date.  If you do not make a deal, it is trial time.

At trial, you will get a chance to testify and ask questions of any witness called.  Plan to arrive early, traffic, parking, time at the scanner, and the elevators can delay you, a Judge will not wait for you.  If you do not make it on time, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

At trial, the deck is stacked against you, the police officer is a professional witness, the prosecutor has done this countless times and the Judge is also your jury.  Remember, all traffic violations are misdemeanor crimes.  If you are convicted, this will be a permanent mark on your record.  If the traffic violations are serious you should contact a traffic ticket attorney.  Or, at least review our article Strategies for Fighting a Traffic Ticket.

Helpful hints when dealing with the any traffic court.  Always be courteous with everyone associated with the court, from the marshals at the scanner, clerk at the window, in court staff and most of all the Judge. Don’t enter a guilty plea if you have been involved in an auto accident.  There is subtle distinction between guilty and no contest and this is the situation that it counts, just enter a no contest plea when you citation involves an accident.