Can I get a court-appointed attorney for a speeding ticket?

published by Andrew Flusche on November 30, 2012

speeding car

No. Court-appointed attorneys are only an option in Virginia for cases where you’re facing the possibility of jail time. For a regular speeding ticket, if you’re not charged with reckless driving, a court-appointed attorney would not be available because you are not facing the possibility of jail.

A simple speeding ticket in Virginia is just a traffic infraction that is only punishable by a fine of up to $250.00. Jail time is not an option for the judge even if he finds you guilty. Because of that you are not eligible for a court-appointed attorney even if you are indigent. So for a speeding ticket your only option for counsel is to hire your own attorney or of course you could waive your right to an attorney and represent yourself.

Now this is very different if you’re charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Many people think they have been issued a speeding ticket in Virginia, but it turns out that it really is a reckless driving Class 1 misdemeanor charge. The problem, though, is that in many cases depending on the speed you may not really be facing jail time even though it’s technically allowed for a reckless driving charge. For example, if you are charged with going, let’s say 85 in a 65 in Spotsylvania County, that is typically not a case where you would be facing the possibility of jail time even if you were convicted for reckless driving by speed. Because of that you would not be eligible for a court-appointed attorney for that kind of charge.

Now contrast that with a speed of let’s say 100 miles an hour in a 65 in Stafford County. That is a case where you are on the line of facing possible jail time even if you’re convicted. Therefore, if you’re indigent you would be able to get a court-appointed attorney to represent you.

The key question is, are you really charged with just a regular speeding ticket or not? If you are charged with a regular simple speeding ticket you would not be eligible for a court-appointed attorney.

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