Whether you’ve been caught speeding, running a red light, or committing another traffic violation, receiving a traffic ticket is an unpleasant experience.
Therefore, it’s common to wonder whether the ticket is a civil or criminal matter and how it may affect your life moving forward.
To understand where you stand, let’s explore the difference between civil and criminal cases in Texas. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Marcos, TX, can shed more light on your specific traffic ticket violations and how they can impact your driving and criminal records.
Criminal matters involve crimes against society, such as theft, assault, or murder. They usually result in punishments like fines, imprisonment, or probation. Convictions in criminal cases are determined by the level of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
On the other hand, civil matters involve disputes between individuals or organizations about the legal duties owed to each party in a case. They typically result in monetary damages or orders from the court.
This normally requires that a defendant act or refrain from acting in a specific way. In civil cases, the standard of proof is lower than in criminal cases – by a preponderance of the evidence.
This answer is sometimes complicated to answer because traffic tickets can fall into both categories, depending on the severity of the offense and the jurisdiction.
Most traffic infractions are generally categorized as civil matters in most states in the U.S. However, the Lone Star State takes a different stance. While getting a speeding ticket or traffic ticket is usually a citable offense in other states, it becomes a criminal matter in Texas. Parking tickets are an exception and are considered civil cases in Texas.
Speeding or failing to yield properly can be Class C misdemeanor offenses. Therefore, you’re subject to a $500 fine and may even face jail time if you don’t pay your debt.
More severe traffic violations are classified as criminal matters as well. Examples include reckless driving, driving while intoxicated (DWI), and hit-and-run incidents. These offenses have potential consequences, such as hefty fines, jail time, or suspension of your driver’s license.
These types of criminal traffic violations require that prosecutors prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, similar to other criminal cases.
It’s imperative to understand the nature of your traffic ticket and whether it’s a civil or criminal matter. If you’re unsure, carefully review the citation you received, as it should indicate the nature of the offense.
Keep in mind that, in Texas, you can end up in hot water if you don’t talk to a traffic ticket attorney about your traffic ticket violation. Again, you may face additional repercussions, including jail time.
The Texas Office of Court Administration issued about 1.5 million arrest warrants in 2018 for the non-payment of Class C misdemeanor fines. Moreover, over 500,000 people were put into jail for not paying their debts.
Make sure you calendar your court date then if you’re required to appear in court. Otherwise, your offense will turn into a criminal matter, and you’ll be subject to an arrest. Contact a traffic ticket attorney to make sure you comply with the court’s request.
Otherwise, you may have to spend time in jail, or you won’t be able to drive until your ticket is paid.
If you plead no contest or not guilty to a traffic ticket, you can also pay your fine by mail.
Determining whether a traffic ticket is a criminal or civil matter depends on the specifics of the violation. If you’re charged with reckless driving or DWI, you also need to speak to an attorney right away. In these cases, you’re facing some major criminal charges.
The circumstances of your case, therefore, have significant implications on how it is handled and what penalties you may face. Contact a lawyer so you can experience a more successful outcome. In Texas, call Mendoza Law today.
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