Should I get an attorney or not and should I plead guilty or not?

I have been sited for failure to stop at a railroad crossing. I do not believe
they sounded the horn prior to me hitting them. I do not know if I need an
attorney or not or if I should plea guilty and just be done with it.

Asked on April 18, 2016 under General Practice, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you have an otherwise good or clean driving record, then probably your best course is to go to court, meet with the prosecutor, calmly and non-defensively explain what happened, express some contrition, and offer to take a defensive driving class, if the procecutor thinks that would be appropriate (in many states, like NJ, you can take them online for around $70 or so). If you do that, there's a good chance he/she will let you plead to a lesser offense. Having a lawyer almost always helps (i.e. gets you a somewhat better outcome then you'd get on your own), but you'll most likely spend $500 on more on the lawyer--it's your decision whether it's worth that much to incrementally improve the odds of a good outcome, when the stakes are a single traffic citation.


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