Do You Get a Jury Trial for Speeding Tickets in SC?
In South Carolina, you can have a jury trial for speeding tickets regardless of which court you are in.
This is a surprise to some people who live in another state or who have moved to SC from another state, because not every state gives you a jury trial for speeding tickets.
In this article, we will discuss your right to a jury trial when you are given a speeding ticket, including:
- When you have the right to a jury trial in a criminal case,
- When you have the right to a jury trial for speeding tickets in the magistrate court,
- When you have the right to a jury trial for speeding tickets in the municipal court, and
- When you have the right to a jury trial for speeding tickets in other states like North Carolina.
Do You Get a Jury Trial for Speeding Tickets in SC?
You can get a jury trial for speeding tickets in South Carolina – you are guaranteed the right to a jury trial in all criminal prosecutions by the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Article I Section 14 of the SC Constitution has a corresponding provision:
The right of trial by jury shall be preserved inviolate. Any person charged with an offense shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury; to be fully informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to be fully heard in his defense by himself or by his counsel or by both.
Your right to a jury trial “shall be preserved inviolate.” Even when you are accused of a relatively minor traffic offense like speeding.
Do You Get a Jury Trial for Speeding Tickets in Charleston Magistrate Courts?
If you are given a speeding ticket by the SC Highway Patrol or the Charleston Sheriff’s Department, your case will most likely be in one of Charleston’s magistrate courts. You should consult with your attorney immediately because you may need to request a jury trial before your initial court date.
Do You Get a Jury Trial for Speeding Tickets in Charleston Municipal Court (City Court)?
If you are given a speeding ticket by the City of Charleston Police Department, your case will be in the Charleston Municipal Court (the City Court). You should consult with your attorney immediately because, as in the magistrate court, you might need to request a jury trial before your initial court date.
In either magistrate or municipal court, once you request a jury trial, you will not need to attend the initial court date found on your blue ticket, and you should keep in touch with your attorney until your case is scheduled for a roster meeting or pre-trial conference.
Why Would You Request a Jury Trial for a Speeding Ticket in SC?
But, I don’t want a jury trial…
That’s okay. Most people don’t want a jury trial. Most cops, judges, prosecutors, clerks of court, and defense lawyers don’t want jury trials either. Guilty pleas are just easier on everyone involved. Except you…
Most cases do not go to a jury trial, even though we requested a jury trial early in the case. Most cases are 1) dismissed or 2) reduced to a no-point or reduced-point violation either at your roster meeting or on the morning of your trial.
In the rare case where the officer or prosecutor does not make an offer you can accept, however, your attorney must be ready and willing to take your case to a jury trial.
Not Every State Allows a Jury Trial for Speeding Tickets
Why are some people surprised to find that they get a jury trial for speeding tickets in South Carolina?
Some states make it extremely difficult to get a jury trial for minor offenses like speeding. For example, in North Carolina, you must first have a bench trial in front of a magistrate judge. If (when) you lose that trial, you must then appeal to the District Court, and, when your case arrives in District Court, you can request a jury trial.
By making it hard to get a jury trial for minor offenses, the NC courts have reduced the number of jury trials requested, saving the government money they would have had to spend to honor your right to a jury trial when you were first ticketed.
When Do You Have the Right to a Jury Trial in South Carolina?
In SC, you have the right to a jury trial in every criminal case, including traffic offenses like speeding. You don’t have to jump through any hoops or go to trial with a judge and appeal after the conviction – just send a written jury trial request to the court, confirm it was received, and wait for your case to appear on the trial roster if the officer or prosecutor does not resolve your case sooner.
You can get a jury trial on any criminal accusation ranging from murder to relatively minor offenses like:
- Driving under suspension,
- Simple possession, or
- Possession of paraphernalia.
Speeding Ticket Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC speeding ticket lawyer Grant B. Smaldone has successfully handled most types of traffic violations in South Carolina. We know the local courts, law enforcement agencies, local procedures, and, in most cases, we can get your ticket dismissed or rewritten to an offense that will not affect your license and insurance.
If you were given a speeding ticket or any other traffic violation in the Charleston, SC area, call before your initial court date at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation about your case.