I Already Paid the Fine and was Found Guilty
Many clients call me because they did not realize that the consequences of pleading guilty. Neither the police officer nor the District Court are required to tell you the consequences of pleading guilty and ignorance of the consequences in no excuse in court. Other clients call me because they went to traffic court themselves hoping to simply get the points reduced, but ended up getting convicted by the judge because they said the wrong thing and “talked themself” into a conviction.
If you already paid the fine or if you were found guilty in traffic court, you have a second chance to get your points reduced or to have a second trial. It is called a Summary Appeal. You have 30 days from the date of conviction to file a Summary Appeal in the Court of Common Pleas located in the county courthouse. You must complete and file a Summary Appeal form and pay the filing fee, typically $50-$75 depending on the county. This document is usually filed at the Clerk of Court office located in the county courthouse. You will then be mailed a notice for a new trial date which is considered a “Trial de Novo” which means you get an entirely new trial as if the traffic court conviction never occurred. If the citation that you were convicted of in District Court carries points, Penndot will temporarily add the points to your license for the conviction, but if you are successful in reducing points at the appeal, then Penndot will amend the points on your record after the appeal hearing.
If you were convicted in traffic court of Driving on a DUI Suspension under Section 1543b of the Vehicle Code, the District Justice was required to sentence you to a period of incarceration of at least 60 days in the county prison. It is recommended that you always file a Summary Appeal in this situation, as most county District Justices do not have the power to order that the prison place you on house arrest or work release. If you appeal the conviction, a County Common Pleas Court judge can order house arrest or work release on your case.
At the Summary Appeal trial, you can go to trial to fight the ticket or sometimes, the county prosecutor may offer a lesser offense with reduced or even zero points. An experienced attorney would be invaluable to assist you, especially if you wish to go to trial to fight the ticket. If you decide to go to trial without an attorney to represent you, you will be required to defend yourself and act as your own attorney before a Common Pleas Court Judge. The District Attorney will represent the state and present the evidence against you which can consist of witness testimony, police office testimony, video and or photographs from a Motor Vehicle Recorder aka a dashcam. The standard for proof at a traffic hearing is the same as in a criminal case – beyond a reasonable doubt which is a very high standard of proof.
As you only have 30 days from the date of conviction, you should speak with an experienced traffic defense attorney to discuss your options. The date of conviction is either the date your guilty plea was received by the court, or the date that you appeared in court for your traffic hearing and were found guilty by the District Judge. If you fail to file the Summary Appeal within the 30 day deadline, the case can be dismissed if the District Attorney make a motion for dismissal before the County judge.
If more than 30 days have elapsed from the date you were convicted, you will need to file a special motion in the county court called a Nunc Pro Tunc motion. In a Nunc Pro Tunc motion, you are requesting that the court permit you to file a late summary appeal. This now becomes a two-step process – first you have to convince the judge to reopen the case and permit you to file the appeal and then you would either have to convince the District Attorney to reduce the charges or go to trial to fight the case. In order to prevail in a Nunc Pro Tunc you must explain reasons why you did not file the summary appeal within the 30 day deadline. You would have to prove that you did not file it timely due to fraud, a “breakdown” in the court’s operations or that your attorney at the original traffic hearing did not represent you properly. It is a difficult standard to prove, but in some situations, the District Attorney may simply agree to the motion so that you can file the late appeal.
The experienced traffic attorneys at Klein Burdett & Associates have handled thousands of Summary Appeal hearings. We have a 99% success rate in reducing points on most moving violations, even on appeal. If points were placed on your license, your insurance premiums may increase and you could possibly lose your license as a result. Additionally, if you do get points due to a moving violation, and if you receive another moving violation in the next year, the points add to your current points potentially triggering a license suspension if you go over 6 points on your license.
Our firm offers a money-back guarantee on most moving violations. If we are unable to assist you in reducing the points on your moving violation, we will refund the entire fee that you paid to us. Call us at (800) 536-0501 for a free consultation.Summary Appeal Reviews from former clients
*Source: Avvo.com client reviews
Posted by Nora
Not knowing about the consequences, I initially pled guilty and the violation came with a loss of license for two months. Ellis was very upfront with me about my chances of appealing this charge to the higher court. Ellis was able to get the violation reduced so I did not lose my license. I cannot say enough about how grateful I am that I retained Ellis B. Klein. He was compassionate and kept me informed as he was working with the police and the DA. His former experience as a prosecutor and the relationships he has with many in the court system helped me tremendously. I would recommend him to anyone needing assistance with a traffic related offense.