2

In Can you present a clear record if you do Driver Safety Course in Texas?, it was determined that after taking a Driving Safety Course, a record of such action is placed upon one's driving record.

Taking the course in Texas could be for either dismissing a ticket, or for obtaining an insurance discount.

If one has a jury trial for speeding, and intends to claim a spotless driving record (which happens to show the course), provided that the prosecutor would not be allowed to dispute such claim, what is to happen in regards to the jury selection?

Are people who have themselves been charged for speeding, excluded from the jury pool? Or only those that have been convicted? What about those whose cases have been dismissed, including through the Driving Safety Course option?

As per Are jurors allowed to teach law to one another?, is it fair to assume that reasons a Driving Safety Course is taken for is not common knowledge? Does it follow that those prospective jurors that do know should be disqualified? Would it be the responsibility/job of the defendant or the judge to disqualify such jurors, provided the defendant has informed the judge (and prosecutor) of the concern? How would this be done in practice without revealing the concern to all the juries when trying to disqualify a single one at a time, because the whole selection process is generally performed in the open, and in the presence of all the prospective jurors at once, isn't it?

Or would it just be allowed to take the statement about a clean record at face value, e.g., with the confirmation of the prosecutor, without the jurors being capable of examining the driving record from the DMV?

1

In Texas speeding is a class C misdemeanor and thus a criminal offense. Prior guilt should not be a factor in determining guilt in a trial. The prosecution would thus not present a copy of your driving record as evidence at the trial.

I don't think that people who've been charged with speeding are excluded from the jury pool. Each side gets a chance to exclude jurors in a process called Voire Dire. In Texas for speeding, they'll want to choose 6 jurors.

Each side gets to exclude jurors during this process. You can pick 3 people to exclude for any reason you want. You can decide which ones by asking them questions. Each side also gets to exclude jurors 'for cause' which usually means if you ask them if they can be impartial and they say no. There are also other reasons, but the judge will have to agree to your reasons.

You have the option of choosing whether you want the jury or the judge to determine your fine if the jury finds you guilty. In that phase, I do believe they can take prior findings of guilt into account. But they probably won't. The prosecutor is going to ask the judge or jury to give you the maximum fine.

You need to ask the judge BEFORE the trial starts who you would like to assess the fine should you be found guilty; the judge or the jury.

Ask the court clerk if the court is a "court of record."

In my experience (which is limited and I am not a lawyer) juries in Texas usually assess lower fines than a judge.

There is at least one situation where you might want the judge to assess the fine;

If you are found guilty in a court that is NOT a court of record, you can appeal the verdict by posting a bond in the amount of double the fine plus court costs. You must appeal and post this bond within 10 calendar days of the finding of guilt.

If you do this, the case goes to a court of record (usually the county criminal court) and you get a brand new trial which starts over anew (called 'de novo') and at this trial, it all starts over again and the original trial doesn't mater at all.

At this trial, it would be wise to ask the judge to assess punishment if you are found guilty by the jury. If you are found guilty by the jury, and BEFORE the judge can assess the fine, ask the judge to please allow you to be assessed 'deferred adjudication' - and if you are lucky, the judge very well may do it.

BUT - be prepared to show this law to the judge. Because it's nearly a guarantee that the judge of this court (a real criminal court) won't know about it because that judge will likely not ever see many class C or speeding ticket cases. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 45.051 – Suspension of Sentence and Deferral of Final Disposition

Here is the relevant portion:

On a plea of guilty or nolo contendere by a defendant or on a finding of guilt in a misdemeanor case punishable by fine only and payment of all court costs, the judge may defer further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and place the defendant on probation for a period not to exceed 180 days

  • very interesting; I'm not sure I understand why would the judge do a deferred adjudication only at the trial de novo; also, why would they do it if they're not even familiar with it? – cnst Jan 18 '18 at 8:25
  • I've seen a judge who didn't know about it grant it just because he didn't know. Congratulated the pro se defendant for finding it. – mark b Jan 18 '18 at 19:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.