Appealing a Traffic Court Ruling

Maryland has laws providing Defendants the right to appeal a judge’s decision in traffic court.  However, doing so can involve many hours and substantial expenses. If you are interested in appealing a decision, be sure to carefully analyze if the amount of time and money is worth the possible outcome.

If you are still interested in filing an appeal in traffic court, there are two types that may apply. The first type of appeal allows decisions to be overturned only if the judge made a significant legal error.  The second—called “trial de novo”—allows you a second chance at a trial altogether.  This type of appeal is generally much more favorable.

Regardless of which type of appeal applies, it is important to check with the clerk at the court where you were convicted for details on your rights to a new trial.  This will include information such as how long you have to file a notice of appeal.

If you are able to secure a new trial, you will have to re-litigate your case.  Despite the time and monetary considerations, there can be several benefits of taking this route. If your initial trial did not go the way you intended, this offers you an opportunity to present your case again with a little bit of background on the process and what to expect.  Another benefit is that you have the possibility of presenting your case to a more lenient judge.  For certain convictions you may also have the chance to present your case in front of a jury. While judges are required to solely consider the facts of a case, juries can be more understanding in terms of emotions surrounding an incident.  Therefore, you may have a better chance at winning your appeal the second time around.

If a de novo trial does not apply to your charges, you will be required to file an appeal in an appellate court, claiming that the trial judge made a legal error. Unfortunately, the appellate court is likely to conclude that the traffic court judge who heard your case gave you a fair trial and applied the law correctly.  Appellate courts have the power to ignore minor procedural errors made by the judge, and consider only major legal errors to overturn a judge’s original decision.

For more information on the rules and procedures of traffic court, contact experienced attorney, Jeffrey Scholnick.

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