1. Thinking You Can't Afford a Fairfax Lawyer and Deciding "I'll Just Go to Court and Plead Guilty"
The costs of going to court alone and being convicted of reckless driving can be significantly higher than the flat fee you will pay to have an attorney represent you. Looking only at the immediate financial costs (and putting aside the other consequences already explained) it can be much less expensive for clients to hire me than to choose the alternative. For example, I recently represented a client charged with reckless driving at a speed of 85/55. The particular judge that day was finding non-represented people charged with that same speed guilty of reckless driving, fining them and suspending their license. Those people incurred the following costs: a judge imposed fine, $87 in court costs, an increase in their auto insurance premiums for the foreseeable future, and the cost of arranging for transportation to and from work for the next 60 days (or more) or face losing their job. All this is in addition to having a permanent criminal record.
2. Believing You Can Resolve the Case Yourself by Speaking With the Prosecutor in Court.
In some jurisdictions, like Fairfax County, you cannot negotiate with the prosecutor without an attorney. Why? In Fairfax and certain other jurisdictions, the prosecutor has no involvement in cases where there is no defense attorney. The prosecutor does not look into cases without attorneys. In fact, the court files for such cases stay with the judge. The prosecutor never sees the paperwork and never speaks with the officer about those cases. The judge hears these cases while the prosecutor is outside of the courtroom dealing with cases that do have attorneys. The judge offers two options to people without attorneys: (1) plead “guilty” (or "No Contest") or (2) plead “not guilty” and proceed to trial with judge and officer (and be expected to comply with rules of evidence and procedure). Jumping into a trial without the assistance of an attorney is a recipe for disaster. Having a lawyer slows the process down and gives your attorney a chance to resolve the matter as a non-reckless driving offense.
Continue to Part B of this article.