West Virginia Court Records
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia
West Virginia’s traffic laws are established under Chapter 17 and 17A-D of the West Virginia Code. Any person who violates these laws will be issued a traffic ticket, officially known as a West Virginia Uniform Traffic Citation, by a law enforcement officer. A traffic ticket may be issued for a moving or non-moving violation and serves to inform an individual of a violation, the Magistrate Court with jurisdiction, and the legal requirement to respond to the ticket. A ticketed person may respond by accepting guilt and paying the fine without going to court or denying the violation and contesting the ticket in court. However, certain offenses, classified as serious traffic offenses under Article 5 §17C–5–1 et seq, require a court appearance regardless of the offender’s plea. These offenses include reckless driving, negligent homicide, and driving under the influence. An offender can also plead “no contest”, neither accepting guilt nor contesting the ticket, but the sentence imposed will be the same as that of a guilty plea. A convicted offender faces several legal penalties, including fines, probation, community service, jail sentences, point assessments, or license suspensions, and financial penalties such as increased auto insurance and additional administrative costs such as license reinstatement fees.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia?
In West Virginia, a ticketed person is liable not only to legal penalties for violating road-usage/traffic laws but also for financial penalties. Therefore, it is worth it to fight a traffic ticket to reduce these charges or penalties or dismiss them entirely. Most especially, when there is reasonable proof that the party is innocent of the charges or that the issuing officer made a mistake. Before deciding to contest a ticket, it is wise to seek legal help to know the strength of a case upon conviction. An offender may be liable to fines, fees, and costs more considerable than the initial fines imposed pre-trial on a guilty plea.
Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia
The first thing to do when wanting to contest or fight a West Virginia traffic ticket is to plead not guilty. This can be done at the courthouse on or before the ticket’s deadline in person, though courts also provide mail-in options. After this plea is entered before a magistrate or before the clerk of court, the court will schedule a trial date and notify the defendant. If plea negotiations with the prosecutor fall through and the case cannot be resolved, the case proceeds to trial. At the trial, the offender, represented by an attorney or not, is allowed to present evidence and witnesses, and if necessary, question the officer who issued the ticket to support the case. Penalties resulting from a guilty conviction include fines, demerit points, incarceration, driver license suspensions, probation, community service, and high auto insurance premiums. A defendant who does not find the court’s final judgment satisfactory may appeal to the Circuit Court within a specific number of days.
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Court
Some out-of-state courts, for example, California courts, allow offenders to contest tickets with a trial by written declaration sent to the court by mail, after which the offender is sentenced. This is not possible in West Virginia. Any prospective defendant must make an initial appearance in court to contest a ticket, whether the alleged violation is considered as a minor or major offense under the law. Otherwise, such persons may have warrants issued by the court for their arrests or have the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles suspend their driving privileges.
How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in West Virginia?
An individual may inquire about fine reductions for a traffic ticket from the court handling the case through the clerk of court’s office. Usually, this court will be named on the ticket. It may be possible to arrange a payment plan with the court to settle fines. Also, the court may offer the option of community service hours to defendants who cannot pay the imposed fines.
Can you Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in West Virginia?
Yes, traffic or speeding tickets can be dismissed in West Virginia. Other than dismissals from not-guilty convictions, West Virginia Courts allow a defendant to petition to dismiss any traffic or speeding ticket before a trial commences. The form required to do this is provided on the Magistrate Courts’ website, titled Motion to Dismiss Traffic Citation. The court will then send a copy of the completed and signed form to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor does not object within ten days of delivery, the court will dismiss the case. However, if the prosecutor files an objection, the case proceeds to trial on the scheduled date.
What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia?
Persons who plead guilty with or without a court appearance face certain penalties which may include, or be a combination, of the following:
- Suspended/revoked licenses and reinstatement fees
- Jail sentence, community service, or probation
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- Demerit points assigned by the West Virginia DMV
- Payment of fines, surcharges, and other court costs
- Convictions on driving records. For instance, an infraction conviction stays on a driving record for five years from the date of the conviction)
- Payment of damages to victims
How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in West Virginia
Although individuals have the right to represent themselves or hire attorneys in traffic cases, it may be necessary to get legal help when seeking to dismiss charges or reduce them to a lesser offense. Lawyers also help defendants understand the legal options available to them in resolving cases. The West Virginia State Bar provides members of the public with a few options to find legal help within the state. One of which is the Lawyer Referral Service. This service allows any person to request a lawyer via the internet and consult that lawyer for half an hour for a fee not above $25. Another option is to call WV State Bar’s hotline every Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at (800) 642–3617 to talk to a volunteer lawyer concerning a case. Furthermore, eligible parties who cannot afford legal representation may ask volunteer attorneys specific questions regarding civil cases via an online messaging system endorsed by the WV State Bar.