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What if the Cop Does Not Show Up To My Case?

Even if you know nothing about traffic court you have probably heard stories about showing up to court and winning because the cop did not show up. I get a lot of drivers asking me about the odds of twinning their case by default.

In Virginia, especially in Northern Virginia, winning because the officer does not show up is less common. It still happens, I regularly win cases that way, but there are a few things you should know.

In GDC (General District Court), most jurisdictions assign the officer one or two days a month to prosecute all of their traffic tickets. This helps the officer organize their schedule more efficiently and prevents cases from slipping through the cracks. This also means that if an officer blows off a court date, as many as 180 cases could go down the drain. An entire months worth of work gone. Because of that, few officers casually miss court dates.

If an officer misses a court date then the issue is “why?”. If an officer just doesn’t bother showing up without any explanation to the court then a judge is more likely to dismiss the case. If the officer is subpenaed to another court, or is dealing with a personal emergency, or sick, then the judge may either dismiss the case or grant a continuance to the officer’s next court date. Different judges do different things.

In Circuit Court, things are handled differently. The court does not usually assign court dates based on what is convenient for the officer. And the officer typically has only one or two case in circuit court on any given day, instead of dozens. Consequently, there are fewer consequences for missing a court date in Circuit Court and Circuit Court cases are less convenient to attend.

If your traffic case involves an accident then the government will normally need to have the witnesses present in order to prosecute your case. If witnesses are ever needed or if your case involves a citizen’s complaint then the odds of someone important not showing go up.

However, in cases involving witnesses, most courts set the first court date without requiring the witnesses to appear. The first court appearance is design to allow a chance for the case to be resolved without the witnesses being forced to sit in court all day. If the prosecution and the defendant cannot reach an agreement then the court date is continued and the witnesses are summoned to the next court date.

Luke J. Nichols

(703) 383-9222


About Luke Nichols

Luke Nichols practices almost exclusively traffic law in Northern Virginia. His primary practice areas include reckless driving, speeding, DUI/DWI, refusal, hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license, and driving on a revoked license. Mr. Nichols has represented hundreds of Virginia drivers. You can also connect with Luke on Google+
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