Reckless Driving Charges in Juvenile Court
Inexperienced juvenile drivers who have their first cars and want to test their limits are much more likely to commit Article 7 violations than older drivers who drive to get from place to place. For example, most street racing defendants are juveniles or young adults. The same criminal and traffic laws apply in both juvenile and adult court proceedings. But the focus is different. Juvenile courts usually stress rehabilitation above punishment, whereas in adult court, the opposite is usually true.
There’s no “boys will be boys” presumption in juvenile court. But a Leesburg reckless driving lawyer can effectively leverage a defendant’s age and inexperience during plea negotiations. No one, not even a prosecutor, wants to see a teenager harshly punished for a traffic offense, even a dangerous offense like reckless driving. So, if any defense could apply, as outlined below, a successful resolution is usually available, also as outlined below.
Reckless Driving Defenses
Generally, the safety level (or more properly unsafe level), an unreliable tip, and insufficient evidence are the three most effective defenses to reckless driving charges.
Many traffic violations are objective. Kim used her turn signal or she didn’t, and Jeff ignored a “No U-Turn” sign or he didn’t. Reckless driving is subjective. These charges are appropriate if, and only if, the driver recklessly endangers the safety of others in a way that went beyond the pale.
Frequently, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer partners with a traffic expert who undermines the extreme danger of an alleged reckless driving event. Other times, an attorney argues that the officer profiled the defendant. If an officer sees Jeff and Kim street racing and the officer lets Jeff go, there’s a good chance the officer profiled Kim.
Back in the old days, jurors usually gave officers the benefit of the doubt in such situations. But public approval of police officers is now close to an all-time low. The old days are gone. Police officers no longer get the benefit of the doubt.
Furthermore, officers often rely on informer’s tips in reckless driving situations. Assume Bill aggressively cuts Tim off in traffic, Tim calls 9-1-1, and an officer sees Bill speeding. The speeding, by itself, probably isn’t reckless driving. Prosecutors need Tim’s testimony to prove their case. They must interview him, subpoena him, and coach him. Usually, prosecutors aren’t willing to put in that much effort for a nonviolent misdemeanor.
Speaking of speeding, these cases often have evidence issues. RADAR guns are very effective at near-point blank range. As the distance between gun and suspect increases, these devices become increasingly unreliable.
Resolving a Juvenile Court Reckless Driving Matter
As mentioned above, plea bargains resolve most reckless driving and other criminal charges. Additionally, pretrial diversion is usually available in reckless driving cases.
Most plea bargains include charge reductions. Prosecutors might reduce reckless driving to simple speeding. That’s especially true if the case involves a possible defense, as outlined above. Simple speeding doesn’t have as many collateral consequences as reckless driving.
Pretrial diversion is basically pre-plea probation. If defendants stay out of trouble for about six months and complete other program requirements, like community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges. The major differences between probation and pretrial diversion are that pretrial diversion is unsupervised and defendants who successfully complete such programs have no criminal convictions on their records.
Count on a Diligent Loudoun County Lawyer
There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.