Friday, 27 February 2015

One way of dealing with traffic summonses in Victoria

I saw this account of opting for a court hearing for a traffic summons posted by a Facebook friend in Melbourne, and thought it worth sharing with our readers, with his permission:

This is my first time in my life going to a magistrate court and defended myself against a charge laid on me by the police with a 3 demerit points for driving and a $450 fine. 
The incident happened last year when I was turning right on a traffic light. I was booked by a police car which trailed behind me and the two policemen claimed that I made the right turn on a red light. I protested that the light was amber when my car was turning right but to no avail and had to go to court to defend myself.
Today, in the court session, there were rows of people in front of me where their case is being heard by the judge. I must thank the court sessions as I begin to pick up the lingos and mannerism from observing the defendants and lawyers how they present before the judge. At the same time, I made observations about the judge’s attitude towards certain behaviour. 
For example, the judge is very strict with regards to drink drivers and people who are absent from court session. In one of the cases, the lawyer was present but the defendant was missing. The lawyer apologised on behalf of the defendant who didn’t turned up but the judge immediately issued a warrant of arrest and adjourns the case. 
However, the judge is sympathetic towards individuals who plead their case and show remorse for their behaviour. For example, some people lost their job and in their stressful moments, committed petty crimes in shopping malls. They are sorry for what they did and the judge made them do community work instead of jail time. 
One of the funniest cases I heard today was about a pillow fight between two girls. The victim complained to the judge that she was deeply insulted by the bully and her pillow was destroyed. The judge ordered the bully girl to write a letter of apology and pay the damage pillow worth $30!
When it came to my turn, I stood before the judge and the short conversation goes like this:
Judge: Do you have a lawyer to represent you?
Me: No, Your Honour, I will represent myself.
Judge: You can get legal aid if you wish.
Me: Yes Sir, I know the free legal services but there is a waiting period for it and thus I will represent myself.
The Prosecutor then begins to read my charges before the Judge.
Judge: (to me) what do you have to say?
Me: Your Honour, in the light of the circumstances surrounding that day, I may have made an error judgement and therefore plead guilty. However, I would like to present to the court, my side of my story during that day when I made the right turn at the traffic light. { I begin to elaborate a bit to the judge how I believed it was amber light and I had to made the turn as my car has already cross the white line and I just had to complete the turn }
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his criminal records?
Prosecutor: Clean, your Honour!
Me: Your Honour, I would like the court to consider waiving off my demerits points as well as my fines.
Judge to Prosecutor: What are his penalties?
Prosecutor: Your Honour, 3 demerits point and $450 fine.
Judge looked at my file and begin to question me how long have I got my driving licence, my family background, my work background etc and pause a while..
Judge to me: Given that you made an earlier plea of guilty to this case and consider your good driving records, I cannot do anything for your demerits point as that is the LAW of Court however, I will waive off the $450 fine.
Me: Thank You, your honour. 
Well, to me, this news is better than nothing. I have saved $450 and learnt a lot from this episode. In the court session today, there were ONLY TWO Asians. One was a China guy who was caught twice for drunk driving where the Judge suspended his licence. The other Asian guy was me. 
I think the reason why I don’t see many Asian going to court to fight their case is that Asians tend to be reserved and just comply to pay the penalty/fine.
I am not advocating people should break the law and wilfully not pay the penalty but today lesson have taught me this. 
The LAW is UPRIGHT and punishment will dealt with but there is always a compassionate side of the LAW where if you plea with the LAW, the LAW will judge you based on the circumstances and reduce penalties accordingly.

The friend prefers to remain anonymous.

In short, if you can afford the time and remote risk of paying a heftier fine than on the summons, it's worth trying.

I would probably do this the next one I cop. A and I have each 'exhausted' our free official warnings and a day in court might prove to be an interesting life experience, even if we don't actually save any money.

Note: For speeding summonses where the alleged speed is up to 10km/h above the speed limit and it is the first offence in the past two years, these are automatically eligible for "pardon" to a warning, for those who write in. If you do not write in to appeal, it's demerit points and a fine as per normal.


1 comment:

  1. I thought red light cannot !... Otherwise I might have tried this last year..