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I made a right turn on red onto a major drive in Atlanta, GA. The police officer who pulled me over wrote the wrong intersection on the ticket which did have a 'no right turn on red sign, however, the intersection where I actually did make a right turn was 3000 ft (more than half a mile) south of the intersection where the officer indicated the violation occurred. There were no 'no right turn on red' signs where I turned and I have pictures to prove it. I am a college professor and I was making a right turn on the street behind the college where I work which has no signs prohibiting right turns on red. I pulled over immediately after he turned on his lights and I remember the store where I stopped and received the ticket. The distance between the street where I turned and the ticket stop point is 244 ft according to Google maps. The distance between the street where the officer said I turned and the store where I stopped to receive the ticket is 3272 ft according to Google maps.

There is no way I traveled more than half a mile before I stopped for the ticket. I pulled over immediately after he turned on the flashing blue lights. Perhaps he made a mistake and just assumed that the street I turned on had a sign prohibiting right turns on red just like the other sign at the previous intersection.

How should I proceed in this situation? Should I pursue dash cam film footage for that date and time? I don't think there were cameras at either intersection. Are there any other options available in this situation? I know the court systems prefers the word of the officer and assumes they never make mistakes :-)

If I cannot defend this, how can I keep my insurance from going higher?

closed as off-topic by Nij, A. K., Michael Seifert, feetwet Jun 25 at 0:38

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    @abelenky Depends. Moving violations in California are "infractions", which is a criminal violation less serious than a misdemeanor. – Andrew Lazarus Jun 22 at 1:52
  • @abelenky why would you make that blanket statement? In many states, for instance Georgia and Texas, traffic tickets are misdemeanor criminal violations. Thus they are going to afford the accused the right of a trial and even a trial by jury. – mark b Jun 24 at 14:49
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I've contested many of my own traffic tickets in a state where traffic tickets are also considered misdemeanor criminal violations.

I would appear in court before the time limit on your ticket. I'd plead not guilty, and I would not waive any rights- which means I would request a trial by jury. Under Georgia law you do have the right to a jury trial IF your ticket is not considered a petty offense. Otherwise you can have a bench trial. If your case starts in a Municipal Court and you request a jury trial, the case will be sent to the State or Superior Court of that county. Jury trials on traffic citations are rare, but it is probably a good tactic because you might be able to work out a better solution than you can in Municipal court.

Once the court accepts your plea, then I would make sure the court set a pre-trial hearing. At this hearing make a motion to the judge that you would like the dash-cam video of the officer and the vehicle he stopped you in. If the prosecutor argues that it's not relevant (and they might) explain to the judge why they are relevant (the officer didn't realize exactly what intersection you were at).

IMPORTANT: Introduction of your own evidence requires that you 'lay the foundation' of the evidence. This usually means that you must declare officially in court, in front of the prosecution, that your evidence (pictures you take, etc.) are taken by you, and that they are 'true and correct' representations of the location where the alleged offense took place, and that the date and time was (whatever it was). You usually must state this while under oath. OTHERWISE, the prosecution will object to your evidence most likely on the grounds of no foundation.

Please read up on how to lay the foundation in either a trial or in a pre-trial setting. For something like this you might need to just present the evidence and lay your foundation at trial. So you'll need to read up on how to lay foundation and present your evidence at trial.

You could get lucky and the officer won't show up at trial. So in that case I would make a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution (you can't cross examine a witness that didn't show up)

You'll get to choose jurors, etc. in a process called Voire Dire. So read up on that too.

You will not be forced to testify if you don't want to (because of the constitutional right to not incriminate yourself) but if you do choose to testify, the prosecution can ask you questions).

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There should be some procedure for contesting the ticket. Follow it, plead not guilty. Sometimes the officer doesn't bother to show up, but if he does, you should be prepared to defend yourself. For example, you could explain how the corner where he ticketed you (no RToR sign) is on your natural commute, while the corner where he "saw" an infraction is not. Bring a photo of your corner showing that there is no sign, and explain that the neighboring intersections do have No Turn on Red signs. I suppose you could ask for dashcam evidence, if it exists in your jurisdiction.

I would not assume the judge will prefer the officer's version.

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I don't know the rules of procedure for Georgia, but generally speaking, one would plead not guilty to the ticket and request discovery from the prosecutor.

If there is footage available, it would probably need to be turned over. If it shows that you did nothing wrong, you may persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the case; otherwise, you would probably just plan to use it as evidence at a trial.

Note that the rules governing procedure and the admission of evidence can be complex and confusing. If you want to contest the charges, you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the local rules.

  • I believe in the OP's case you would ask for discovery from the judge and not the prosecutor. The judge can then order the prosecutor to provide it. – mark b Jun 24 at 15:24

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