The other day I was in Stafford General District Court when a young man answered for his case on the traffic docket. The judge announced that he was charged with reckless driving for driving too fast for road conditions. The judge then asked how the gentleman pleads. The young man said, “Well, Your Honor, I do not plead guilty to Driving too Fast for Conditions, but I do plead guilty to Failure to Maintain Control.”

I was stunned!

The young man was charged one type of reckless driving, and he pled guilty to another kind. Yes, failure to maintain control IS reckless driving. It’s just one of the other dozen types of reckless driving in Virginia, so it’s still a class 1 misdemeanor and has all the same possible punishments as the charge the driver was originally facing.

This is just one other reason why hiring an attorney is critical for reckless driving cases. An attorney could easily advise a client the way the law works for reckless driving cases, and that you don’t want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Most people don’t want to plead guilty to the exact same level of offense that they’re facing.

In this case, the judge actually did take a little pity on the defendant and I believe he reduced the charge to a lesser offense. But that doesn’t always happen. Some judges, if you plead guilty, simply find you guilty of the charge that you plead guilty to. In this case, a judge could have found the young man guilty of reckless driving. This is exactly why you should talk with an attorney, at least to consult with them to find out what possible ramifications different things might have in court.

Photo By: Martyn @ Negaro

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