1. When you receive a traffic citation or a complaint, you have a few options. This document is written to help you understand the procedures needed to exercise the option(s) that you choose. This document does not provide legal advice and it does not replace the advice that your attorney could offer.
2. It is important to note right at the beginning that the City staff cannot give you any legal advice. The Judge and the Prosecutors are prohibited by the applicable rules of conduct from giving you legal advice concerning your charge. The court clerk and her staff are not attorneys and the law does not allow non-attorneys to give legal advice. Please do not ask these people for legal advice.
3. Your first appearance on your citation or complaint is likely to be at the court clerk’s office. At this time, you may pay the citation and be finished, but the charge may appear on your driving record.
4. Certain citations may be subject to correction or reduction in accord with the local court rules. These dismissals/reductions may be found on the court website www.piedmont-ok.gov or on the court bulletin board.
5. You may wish to speak to a prosecutor and ask that you receive a deferred/suspended sentence to reduce the impact of the citation on your driving record. If so, you may post a cash bond with the court clerk and receive a new court date where you will be able to see the prosecutor/judge. If you are unable to post the bond immediately, you may request additional time for that purpose.
6. You may also wish to set your case for trial. To do that, post your bond and ask to see the prosecutor and judge to schedule the trial date. You will not need your witnesses at that meeting, but you will need them for the trial date. When setting a trial date, please be ready to advise the court of important appointments that you will have in the coming weeks so that we may attempt to avoid creating a schedule conflict.
7. The law does not require that you have an attorney to represent you in this matter. We do, however, strongly encourage you to seek legal advice. Nothing that you read here, nothing that you read on the internet, and nothing that your friends tell you can replace the advice of a competent attorney who has considered your specific citation and facts.
8. If you choose to talk to the prosecutor but are unable to reach an agreement on the outcome of your case, you may still see the Judge and ask for a trial. You may also enter a plea of guilty or no contest before the Judge and will have an opportunity to make a statement concerning punishment. This process is often referred to as a “blind plea” as you do not have an agreement with the prosecutor as to what should happen in your case. The Judge will find you guilty on the charge if you plead guilty or no contest, but he or she will consider you request or circumstances when deciding the fine/incarceration that will be imposed.
9. Once your case is resolved, you have the right to appeal to the District Court in El Reno. You have only 10 days to file your appeal, and there are statutes that define how you must proceed with the appeal. Almost everyone will need the advice of counsel to successfully complete an appeal. At the time of your appeal, you will receive a trial from a different judge than the judge who handled your case at the City level. IMPORTANT NOTE: You will be required to post an appeal bond with the city before you proceed with the appeal. Generally, that appeal bond will be twice (2x) the amount of the fine and court costs imposed in Piedmont.
10. If you fail to appear for any of your hearings and your bond has not been posted in full, it is likely that the court will issue a citation for your failure to appear, may issue a warrant for your arrest, and may request the Department of Public Safety to suspend your driver’s license. This can be an expensive mistake, and it will not get better until you address the problem. Consider consulting an attorney and handle the problem right away. If your bond is posted in full and you do not come to court, you will forfeit the money you have posted and the citation will go on your record as a conviction.
11. It may be useful for you to consider your driving record in advance. If you are unsure of your driving record, you may check it by purchasing a copy of the record from a tag agent (if you are an Oklahoma license holder). If you have prior moving violations, this factor may reduce the options available to the prosecutor. Please note that if you do receive a probation you will likely have to buy another copy of your driving record at the end of your probation. If you do decide to come to court, the prosecutor will also have received a copy of your driving record, but you are not required to provide one for the prosecutor. If you are not licensed in Oklahoma, please provide a copy of your driving record from your home state as the judge and prosecutor will review that record when determining what the punishment/offer will be on your case.
12. If you are charged with speeding of 10 mph or less over the speed limit, and if you do not have a commercial driver’s license, this citation will not become part of your driving record. (This may only apply to Oklahoma driver’s licenses as some other states put these citations on your record)
13. Generally, the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) cannot keep citations off the driving record unless the Judge finds the driver not guilty at the time of trial or if the prosecutor dismisses the case and returns all the defendant’s money. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but they are rare.
14. If you are charged with speeding less than 15 miles per hour over the limit (not in a school zone and not a CDL driver), and if you have no moving violations on your driving record in the past 3 years, you may request and be given a deferred sentence (probation). If you have no violations of law for a term of 6 months, and if you bring a new driving record showing that you have no new violations of law, that charge will not become part of your driving record. You will, however, pay an administrative (deferral) fee equal to the fine and court costs that the court could impose if you were found guilty and sentenced on that charge. If you do not qualify for this program, you may still talk to the prosecutor about a probation, may blind plea before the judge, or may set your case for trial. You can do the paperwork for this option at the office of the court clerk and not have to attend court.