What Is a Petty Offense?

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What Is a Petty Offense?

 

As a driver, it is natural to worry about getting a ticket for a traffic violation. Tickets can be expensive, require you to go to court, and blemish your driving record. Typically, a ticket results from what is called a petty offense. Petty offenses are typically minor, non-criminal offenses, such as traffic violations.

 

Although petty offenses are not misdemeanors or felonies, there are still consequences associated with petty offenses that are important to know about. Below are some common petty offenses, and what you can expect if you receive a ticket for violation of these laws.

 

 

Types of Petty Offenses

 

There several kinds of petty offenses, mostly minor traffic violations, that can result in a citation.

 

  • Driving above the designated speed limit

 

  • Parking improperly. This includes parking in handicapped spaces or not having proper parking stickers to park in a specific parking lot

                                                                                       

  • Running a red light. Failing to stop at a red light may get you pulled over by a police officer, or may result in you being mailed a ticket if there are cameras installed at the intersection.

 

  • Failing to stop or making an incomplete stop at a stop sign. Failing to stop at a stop sign, also known as “running a stop sign,” is considered a petty offense

 

  • Following a vehicle too closely is a traffic offense that can get you cited.

 

  • Improper lane change. This includes any unsafe lane change and failing to signal before changing lanes.

 

  • Failure to present proof of insurance or a valid driver’s license. If you do not have proof of insurance or your driver’s license on you when you are stopped, you will likely get a ticket. The ticket may be dismissed if you bring your proof of insurance or driver’s license to court. In some states, driving without a driver’s license (as opposed to a suspended or revoked license) constitutes a petty offense that will result in a citation.

 

  • Distracted driving. This includes texting, or any other type of distraction while driving.

 

  • Failure to yield. Failing to follow proper right-of-way rules in parking lots or on the road, or failing to yield to pedestrians.

 

What Happens After a Petty Offense?

 

If you are pulled over for a petty offense, you will usually be given a citation that includes a notice to appear in municipal court on a certain date. As with other offenses, you can enter a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you plead guilty or no contest, you may receive a conviction of the offense on your record and you must pay a fine. You may also be given the option to take a defensive driving course and pay an additional fee in exchange for dismissal of the ticket.

 

If you plead not guilty, you will receive a court date to appear before the judge to present your case. Whenever you are going before a judge, you can hire a lawyer to represent you before the court. Unlike criminal offenses, there is no jury involved with petty offenses, and any guilt or punishment will be decided by a judge at the end of the trial.

 

Do I Have to Go to Court?

 

Many petty offenses will not actually require you to appear before a judge. You can usually settle your ticket by visiting the Justice of the Peace or municipal court, or by paying a fine online or over the phone. You may also be able to enter a plea of guilty or no contest with the court clerk, and sign paperwork and pay the required fine or agree to take a defensive driving course.

 

Failure to appear in court on the scheduled date or to pay the required fine before your court date will typically result in a bench warrant for your offense.

 

Possible Punishments for Petty Offenses

 

  • Conviction on your driving record. A conviction on your driving record can result in higher insurance premiums and as a “strike” against you.

 

  • Fines and court costs. All petty offenses are punishable by a fine, which can be up to a thousand dollars. In addition, late fees and court costs can add up.

 

  • Suspension of license. If you get too many traffic convictions within a certain timeframe, your license may be suspended.

 

Facing a Petty Offense or Traffic Ticket? TicketVoid Can Help!

 

If you have received a citation for a petty offense or have any questions about traffic violations, contact TicketVoid can help. TicketVoid is a free attorney match service available to help you in all traffic situations. Simply enter your ticket or case information into the free consultation form, and TicketVoid will match you with an attorney in your area to discuss your case and the best options for your individual situation.

 

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