Schwartz & Powell

Red Light Camera Tickets: Court Says No Good

by Steven D. Powell Attorney at Law

Criminal defense lawyers are worth their weight in gold depending upon their weight and the price of gold at any given moment.

Untold millions of motorists, I imagine, have paid red light camera tickets without pausing because, “After all, they’ve got a picture of me running a red light.”  These tickets run about $500.00 in fines and costs and skyrocket your automobile insurance costs. The points following this conviction can result in revocation of your driving privilege if you have already collected points for other driving issues.

Conviction of this crime is expensive and has collateral financial consequences greatly reducing your disposable or essential income.

The State has snookered Californians into pleading guilty to vehicular crimes for which there is no valid evidence. The evidence, the red light camera shot, may or may not be admissible in court. It took some clever Orange County lawyers to establish this rule in the case of People v. Borzakian. The Court required the prosecution to prove the validity of the photo used to accuse and convict folks of running red-lights and making illegal turns.

This proof requires jumping through more than one evidentiary hoop and the prosecution failed and usually fails to do so. Moreover, there are constitutional issues of our right to confront witnesses against us that may never be solvable with remote camera convictions as most presently stand.

In this case the Second District Court of Appeal said a police officer cannot testify he retrieved the photo from the camera and the defendant is therefore guilty. That is an improper conclusion.  Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer knows that this conclusion is completely without foundation and can provide the best legal defense so as to beat the rap.

This hasn’t been a secret.  Experienced criminal defense lawyers knew this before the Court of Appeal announced its rule of acquittal. So why do people pay these tickets? Why do they allow the State and their insurance companies and the DMV to rip them off?

Because they fail to consult an attorney and hire that lawyer to fight their bum rap. They assume the State wouldn’t so blatantly accuse them of a crime without evidence. But this case proves the State will do precisely that—convict them unjustly. People are intimidated, afraid of the State and apprehensive that hiring the best attorney to handle the case will cost them far more than the ticket and the cost of any collateral consequences.

This is not so. The criminal defense lawyers at Schwartz & Powell handle traffic matters. We charge reasonable rates commensurate with our skill, learning and preeminent status in the community of Ventura County criminal defense attorneys. We know how to handle criminal matters from vehicle code violations to death penalty murder cases. Call us.  Experience matters.