Author: Charles Moore

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5 Rules of How to Act in Court….

5 Rules of How to Act in Court….

When I sit down with a criminal client or someone who has received a traffic ticket that will require a court appearance I always discuss the Five Rules of How to Act in Court.

Here they are:

  1.  DRESS LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO A FUNERAL:  For men, this means wearing a suit.  If you can’t wear a suit or afford one, then wear a nice pair of khakis, a white button up dress shirt and a tie.  Women should wear a pantsuit or a conservative dress.  Why?  Because you want to show the court and the judge that you are taking your case seriously and with respect.  You also want to separate yourself from the majority of people who show up to court dressed like they’re going to the gym, were running late after waking up from a daylong nap or who just really don’t care how their image portrays itself to someone like a judge.  Judges appreciate the effort and it could be make a very helpful impression to the judge when you and I appear in front of him to discuss your case.
  2. PUT AWAY THE CELLPHONE:  When I was a prosecutor in New Jersey, the judge would tell everyone in the court room before starting his docket that if he saw or heard a cellphone in his court while in session, he would confiscate it and embarrass the person.  On more than a few occasions, I saw the judge stop in mid-sentence, have the bailiff confiscate a phone and bring its owner in front of him to ask him questions like “Did you not here my rules about cell phones?”  The point here is simple:  Judges and courts in general want people to show deference to simple rules of courtesy, especially in a court room setting.  I’m not saying you can’t bring your cellphone (although O’Fallon Municipal Court forbids them from being brought into court), I’m just saying turn it off.  When you get out of court you can check your texts and emails.  Or the weather forecast.
  3. REPLY TO EVERYONE AS A MA’AM OR SIR / REFER TO THE JUDGE AS YOUR HONOR:  Most people know that judges are formally referred to as “Your Honor” and less formally as “Judge”.  Clients should use “Your Honor” when asked a question.  Everyone else in the courtroom, from the bailiff to the payment clerk outside the courtroom should be referred to as “sir” or “ma’am”.  Old school?  Sure.  But it’s a sign of respect and I insist that my clients use these terms.
  4. DON’T BE LATE TO COURT:  This is common sense but here’s the real reason you want to be on time.  If you’ve hired me you have what is called an attorney represented case.  That means our cases are usually resolved with the prosecutor and/or in front of the judge first and usually in the order of appearance.  Most courts have an attorney sign up sheet.  Because of this privilege, we can often get your case handled immediately once the docket begins.  Take advantage.  You don’t have to be early, just be on time for the start of the docket.  If the clerk asks you to sign in, do so.
  5. PAY YOUR FINES AS YOU PROMISED:  Often I will be making representations to the court that since you can’t make full payment of a fine that you can probably pay it by a certain date.  Judges and court clerks understand that but the first thing to do is give a reasonable date by which you can pay everything in full.  If you have a $500.00 fine and can only pay $250.00 per month, it will take you two months.  Don’t tell them one month and then have to return to court (on your own) to explain to the judge you don’t have all the money.  Judges understand you get paid a certain amount and need time.  They’ll work with you if you’re upfront about what you need.  This problem actually occurs I believe because clients think they need to pay everything right away or else.  Not the case.  Each court has certain payment minimums per month or full payment by a certain date, but if you tell them how much time they need, they’ll usually work with you.
Traffic ticket courts in St. Charles County…

Traffic ticket courts in St. Charles County…

When we get a call from someone who received a traffic ticket in St. Charles County, one of the first questions we ask is when and where their court date is.

That’s because it makes a difference in what we charge clients and the procedures to  handle the ticket for the clients.

St. Charles County has three layers of courts.  First, each town has a municipal court.  If you get a ticket in O’Fallon, written by a police officer from the O’Fallon Police Department your court date will be at O’Fallon Municipal Court.   Makes sense, right?

What most people don’t know is that St. Charles County has their own court for traffic tickets and that is called the St. Charles County Municipal Court.  If you get pulled over for a traffic ticket by a St. Charles County Sheriff’s Deputy, your court date will be at St. Charles County Municipal Court.  That court is located, by the way, just north of Highway 70 off Highway 79.  Certain unincorporated areas of St. Charles County is where the sheriff’s department has jurisdiction.  A good example would be the Defiance, Missouri area off Highway DD.

The other court in St. Charles County is the St. Charles County Circuit Court, located on Second Street in downtown St. Charles (one block west of Main Street).  This court generally handles violations of state law, but for traffic tickets the cases that are heard here are tickets issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  A common example would be a speeding ticket received while driving in St. Charles County on Highway 70 or Highway 64.   Incidentally, this court also handles more serious charges like felonies and serious misdemeanor cases.

From the standpoint of speeding tickets, however, the cases are treated pretty much the same in terms of how of our office would resolve them.  For relatively minor offenses like speeding, we can usually get very good results and the same outcome for our clients whether we are in St. Charles City Municipal Court, St. Charles County Municipal Court or St. Charles County Circuit Court.

Things get trickier for St. Charles County Circuit court for more serious charges like DWIs, Stealing and Drug Possession.  We can still help clients but the fees are higher because the cases take longer to resolve and involve much more investigation.


St. Charles County Driving Without Insurance…

St. Charles County Driving Without Insurance…

In Missouri, anyone convicted of Driving Without Insurance, or as is sometimes written on the ticket as “Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility”, receive four points on their Missouri driving record.  That’s a lot of points and this is exactly why you want to hire a firm like Traffic Ticket Center to resolve the matter in your favor.

These tickets are usually written in a couple situations.  First, the driver is pulled over for something like speeding or running a stop light and when the police officer asks for proof of insurance, the driver cannot immediately find their insurance card.  We work with clients to get a letter of proper coverage from their insurer and can resolve this type of case usually right away.  If the driver didn’t have valid coverage we will ask the client to obtain current insurance and often can receive an amended charge after speaking with the prosecutor.

The second type of Driving Without Insurance case in Missouri is where an accident has occurred, the police arrive on scene and no proof of insurance can be produced by the driver.  In the case of an accident, things get more complicated.  First, in almost all cases the damages to the vehicle must be paid for before the case can be dealt with properly.  If you had valid insurance but couldn’t show it at the accident scene, your insurance company can still process the accident claim.  If you did not have valid insurance, this can get tricky and is more serious.  We can often assist clients to get a favorable outcome anyway if they can pay the damages and obtain insurance after the accident.



Can I Remove Points From My Record After Pleading Guilty to a Speeding Ticket in Missouri?

Can I Remove Points From My Record After Pleading Guilty to a Speeding Ticket in Missouri?

Can I Remove Points From My Record After Pleading Guilty to a Speeding Ticket in Missouri?

 That depends.

In some counties in Missouri, particularly the rural ones, prosecutors will often not reduce a speeding ticket to a non-moving violation.  If you plead guilty in that case, you might be able to take a class called the Driver Improvement Program (DIP) in Missouri.  If you are eligible, taking the class will remove the points from your record.  The judge has to approve your taking the class and it must be completed within 60 days after a guilty plea.

Now here’s the catch.  Even if you take the class, the points will be taken off your record but the conviction for speeding can and will show up on your driving record.  That means your insurance company will probably still increase your rates.

Remember, in Missouri if you get eight points on your Missouri driving record within 18 months your license is suspended for 30 days.  Your license will be revoked for a year if you get 12 points within 12 months.

That is why DIP could be really important for you if you already have several points on your driver’s record.

Here is a link for more information about the Driver Improvement Program in Missouri:

What Is An SR-22?

What Is An SR-22?

What Is An SR-22?

               An SR-22 is a document prepared by an insurance company that can verify whether someone has car insurance.  It is not only prepared by the insurance company but also filed by them with the Missouri Department of Revenue (the Department of Motor Vehicles, or “DMV” in Missouri).

So now that we know what an SR-22 is, when would a person need one?  It is normally required when a person is seeking to either have their driver’s license reinstated or after someone has been convicted of a DWI or DUI in Missouri.  An SR-22 can also be necessary if a person is convicted of reckless driving or was an uninsured driver that caused an accident.

With respect to a DWI conviction in Missouri, the SR-22 will be required for a set number of years.  If the person fails to pay the premiums, the SR-22 can be cancelled and when that happens another document called an SR-26 is filed with the Missouri Department of Revenue, which notifies them of the cancellation and once received, the person’s license is suspended until a new SR-22 can be obtained and filed.

The SR-22 can be costly because the insurance company considers the person who needs one to be a high risk driver.  The higher the risk of insuring someone, the higher the premiums.

The SR-22 also requires a minimum amount of coverage in Missouri, which $25,000 for one person who is killed or injured, $50,000 for two or more persons killed or injured and also $10,000 for property damage.

It’s important to remember that if you need an SR-22 that you don’t delay in getting one.  If you’re license is suspended, you can’t drive and if you drive, you can get additional driving while suspended tickets in Missouri, which can lead to further costs and further problems on your driving record.

A sample of what an SR-22 document looks like can be found here:

Traffic tickets and points…

Traffic tickets and points…

You probably know that when you receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation in Missouri, including a speeding ticket, pleading guilty to that ticket means you have “points” imposed on your driver’s record.  That’s why you want to hire a firm like Traffic Ticket Center to handle any ticket you receive.  Accumulating points not only could lead to a suspension of your driver’s license, but also increase your insurance premiums because your insurance company views you as riskier to insure.

What you probably do not know is how many points are assessed for certain violations.  Let’s take a look at point totals for specific traffic ticket violations in Missouri*:

  •  Leaving Scene of an Accident:  State Violation 12 / County Ordinance Violation 6 / Municipal Violation 6 points
  • Careless and Imprudent Driving:  State / County / Municipal = 2 points
  • Careless and Imprudent Driving (RSMo. 304.016) (passing on right side of the highway) for State Violation Only = 4 points
  • Failure to Produce Insurance:  State / County / Municipal = 4 points
  • Speeding (5 + MPH over):  State 3 / County 2/ Municipal 2 points
  • No Driver’s License (different than driving without proof of a license):  State / County / Municipal 2 (note that under state law a second violation is 4 points and a third or subsequent violation is 6 points)
  • Stop Sign Violation (running a stop sign):  State 2 / County 2 / Municipal 1 (if no accident) – 2 points (if accident)
  • Driving While Suspended Revoked:  State / County / Municipal = 12 points
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI):  State / County Municipal = 8 points (first violation) / 12 points (subsequent)
  • Improper Turn:  State / County / Municipal = 2 points
  • Driving Too Fast For Conditions:  State / County / Municipal = 2 points
  • Failure to Maintain Lane: State / County / Municipal = 2 points

Here is the link to review the Missouri points chart yourself:

*This article refers to non-CDL drivers.  Some of the above violations can result of CDL privileges for one violation and generally speaking, any moving violation has much more serious consequences for the CDL driver versus the non-CDL driver.

Juvenile Cases in Missouri:   The Informal Adjustment Hearing…

Juvenile Cases in Missouri: The Informal Adjustment Hearing…

Juvenile Cases in Missouri: The Informal Adjustment Hearing…

If you are under age 17, you may find yourself charged with a crime and receive a notice that you must attend an informal adjustment hearing.   Those three words can be very intimidating, especially given that the instructions will clearly state that you have the right to have an attorney present along with your parents at the hearing.

The reality of the informal adjustment hearing is that it is a great opportunity to resolve what you have been charged with without having to get the courts involved.  That is because youth under 17 in Missouri are referred to the Family Court and not the Criminal Court.

The result the Court wants in informal adjustment hearing cases in Missouri is for delinquent or criminal behavior to be corrected, for your parents to get involved in making sure this happens and for the community around you to be protected by this correction.  An informal adjustment hearing is conducted by a Deputy Juvenile Officer (a “JDO”).

If you’ve received a notice for an informal adjustment hearing, what you have been charged with is not likely to be serious.  They are common in cases of school truancy, where children runaway or break curfew or some other minor offense.

At the hearing, you, your attorney and your parents can enter into an agreement where expectations for you going forward are discussed.  Conditions of your behavior might be agreed to and you’ll be expected to follows those explanations.  Essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to correct your behavior before your behavior causes you to really get into serious trouble through formalized charges.

For this reason, it’s a great idea to take advantage of the informal adjustment hearing process.  Our office can meet with you and your parents before the meeting, let you know what to expect and a probable result of the hearing.  We can also call the DJO for your hearing in advance to discuss the particulars of your upcoming hearing.

At the hearing, we can ensure that you understand what is expected of you and work with the DJO for an outcome with a maximum benefit to you.

If you have received a letter stating you must attend an informal adjustment hearing, give our office a call.  We can usually assist you and your parents with an affordable flat fee.

Careless and Imprudent Driving in Missouri…

Careless and Imprudent Driving in Missouri…

Careless and Imprudent Driving in Missouri

Careless and imprudent driving is a common charge in Missouri.  This charge is sometimes referred to as a "C&I" ticket.  It is a four (4) point violation if it is charged by the officer on the scene as a violation of Missouri state law and a two (2) point ticket if charged under municipal law.

These tickets should be taken seriously because they are considered to be a more serious violation than an ordinary speeding ticket.  In my practice, I often see these tickets issued to younger drivers for lane weaving, driving at a high rate of speed or for drag racing at a stop light.  They are often given by an officer who witnesses a driver squeal his tires or run a stop light or stop sign at a high rate of speed.

Additionally, drivers should understand that a careless and imprudent driving ticket can be given in conjunction with another ticket.  Let's say that a driver speeds through a stop sign at a high rate of speed.  The driver can and probably will be given a ticket for careless and imprudent driving plus a ticket for speeding, which carries either three (3) points for a state law violation or two (2) for a municipal law violation.

Careless and Imprudent Driving tickets are often given to a driver when there is an accident that occurs.  Often the officer will cite the driver for Careless and Imprudent Driving for doing something to cause or not avoid an accident.

Traffic Ticket Center can and often do get these tickets amended to non-moving violations, saving clients increased insurance premiums and points on their license.

If you've received a careless and imprudent driving ticket, call us today so we can help.