“I thought I paid that”: Differed Disposition and Why that Ticket Is Still Haunting You
I handle lots of Class C misdemeanors. The most common Class C misdemeanors are traffic tickets (moving violations): things like speeding, running a red light, etc.
A very common way of resolving a Class C is deferred disposition. This is when the Defendant enters a plea of no contest but the finding of guilt is “deferred” for a period of time, often 90 or 180 days, and conditions are placed on the Defendant that must be completed by the time the deferral ends.
The most common conditions are “no new tickets/convictions”, driver’s safety course, and payment of a special expense fee (and sometimes court costs). This means that within the period of deferral the Defendant has to do the things asked of him/her.
I get a lot of calls from people who say “I thought I took care of this, but I got a letter/phone call, etc. Why?” Most often it is because s/he entered a deferred disposition but did not abide by the conditions and complete the deferral.
How you can mess up a deferral:
· “No new tickets/convictions”: Ifyou get a new ticket or a new conviction, depending on the jurisdiction, the deferral will not be successfully completed. Sometimes, you have to submit an affidavit swearing that you have not had any new convictions.
· “Special Expense Fee”: You will always have to pay a fee (it is not technically a fine) for a deferral. If you do not pay by the deadline, you will not successfully complete the deferral.
· “Drivers Safety”: If you have been told to complete a class, such as driver’s safety course, you have to do it during the deferral period AND submit proof of completion. If you do not do it, you will not successfully complete the deferral.
If you have entered into a deferral and have not successfully completed it, typically you will be set for a “show cause” hearing in which you will be most likely (depending on the jurisdiction) be given a chance to explain why you did not complete the deferral and sometimes you will be given a short amount of time to complete and submit proof. If you do not attend the show cause hearing, at that time, a finding of guilt will be entered and you will be convicted of the Class C. The notice for the show cause will be sent to the address the court has and usually will not be forwarded. If you do attend the show cause and are not given more time, a conviction will be entered. If you are given more time, and still don’t complete the deferral, a conviction will be entered.
If you get a conviction entered after you do not complete a deferral, typically a heavier fine will be assessed. Some jurisdictions will max the fine assessed. At that point, typically a warrant will issue as well and will not be withdrawn until you pay the fine. If you are convicted of an offense that carries a license suspension or surcharge, or both, you will be assessed that as well. If it is a moving violation, points will be added to your driver’s license. The conviction will be placed on your driving record and will likely be reported to your insurance.
It is very important you understand the conditions placed on you when you enter into a deferral. Ask questions and get it clarified by the court staff. Calendar ALL deadlines and abide by them. If something comes up and you cannot make a deadline, ask for an extension in writing. It is easier to get an extension prior to the deadline than asking for time at the show cause – lots of courts are not very forgiving at the show cause.
If you are struggling with tickets that seem to keep popping up, give me a call today.