10.0Scott Weymouth Lawrence
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Missed court hearing? Wondering about that 15 day deadline?

Did you miss the 15 day deadline to respond to your ticket? Did you miss your court date? In many cases we can reverse findings issued by the court in traffic infraction cases and get a fresh start on your case. Sometimes this is very simple, sometimes it takes a little more finesse.

You are entitled to notice. The Constitution, state law and court rules provide the minimum requirements the prosecution must meet to initiate a traffic infraction case. If you did not receive a ticket or you were issued a ticket with improper information on it (such as the wrong court or plaintiff) or the notice was mailed to the wrong address you have not been properly notified of your right to a hearing. The court, upon proper motion and production of evidence should give you the hearing you are entitled to. Depending on the facts this may be easy to document or may take some research and a few public disclosure requests to get the necessary information to proceed.

You are entitled to a hearing. Courts, especially in Snohoish County take this very seriously. If you have a good reason why you did not respond in a timely manner (such as hospitalization, natural disaster or family emergency) the courts will often grant deprive and allow your attorney to re-note the case for argument. It is also fairly common that people do respond on time, but for some reason, such as the mailman skipping your house that day, the letter does not get postmarked in time. Again, many courts will allow you're attorney to reset hearings in the case. The same goes for missed court dates. If you have a good reason the court will often allow you a second chance.

Whether or not to vacate the findings and allow you to start anew is often a discretionary matter. This means that, while we have had very good success getting the court to help us in these cases, the court is not required to. The 15 day deadline is a hard-line rule and the law allows the court to find you committed an infraction is you fail to appear at your hearing. Reversing the findings and resetting a contested hearing is much more likely to be granted if you don't wait too long to address the matter, if you don't have a pattern of failing to respond and have reasonable reasons for the mistake. This is not a substitute for appealing a ruling and it is very unlikely that the court will allow you to reset the case if you have responded by mail and been found by the judge to have committed the offense or lost your contested hearing.

Bottom line. If you have missed the 15 day deadline or a contested hearing we may be able to help. If you would like my office to to handle a situation like this for you please feel free to contact us. If it sounds like a case where we may be successful, we will collect the standard flat fee (usually $250) and file the proper motions. If the case is reset we will proceed to fight your case. If the court denies the request we will return your fee.

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