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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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