How Mitigation Hearings Work in Seattle
A Seattle mitigation hearing involves admitting that you committed the charged infraction(s) like a speeding ticket, explaining the circumstances and asking the judge to reduce the fine. Some courts allow you to do mitigation by mail, while others require you to appear.
What tickets should be mitigated:For most people a non-moving violation (such as No Seat belt, Expired Tabs, Cell Phone or Inattentive Driving,...), is not worth fighting. These tickets do not get reported to your insurance company. As a result it is usually more cost effective to pay the reduced fine. On the other hand, if you are charged with a moving violation such as a Seattle speeding ticket, a teen driver, drive for a living or have other special circumstances, mitigation is probably not for you. The few dollars you will save in fine value will not make up for increased insurance or employment problems.
Pre-Hearing Conference is forced mitigation: If you have requested a contested hearing some courts, such as Seattle Municipal Court, will schedule a Pre-Hearing Conference, prior to the contested hearing. This is simple a back-door (but legal) attempt to get you to mitigate the ticket, rather than contest it.
It's not too late to change your mind on a mitigated ticket: If your ticket has not been found committed, most courts will allow you to change your mitigation hearing to a contested hearing. Of course, you must have sent your response to the court in a timely manner. The farther from the hearing date you do this, the better chance the court will allow it. We regularly represent people with Seattle speeding tickets who, upon reflection, have decided they would rather contest the ticket.
Mitigation makes sense for some tickets, and some drivers, but not all. If you have question about how you should proceed, please contact my office and we will talk you through your options.