Reckless Driving as a First Offense in Fairfax
A first offense reckless driving charge can be very worrisome because you have never been through such a charge before. You know it's a problem because the word "reckless" sounds bad and your suspicions are in fact correct. The silver lining is that in Fairfax County one of the first things a court looks at to determine punishment is whether you have had any prior convictions for reckless driving. If you have do not have any such convictions on your driving record then it will be treated as a first offense. The question is what does it do for you?
To Plead or Not to Plead
In Fairfax County, the Judge will call your name up and ask "how do you plead: Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest?" If you enter a guilty plea or no contest plea (which is still a form of guilty plea), all that is left for the Judge to decide is punishment. At this point, their next question will be asking the officer what your driving record looks like. If it is a good record and this is your first offense for reckless driving, your punishment will be lesser than if you have a prior conviction. In many cases, however, most Judges will simply find you guilty of the charge (since you plead guilty) and enter a fine. Of course, if the driving behavior is bad or the speed is excessively high, you could face a license suspension or even jail time.
If you decide to represent yourself (which we respectfully recommend you do not), then your best approach is to plead "not guilty" and make the officer prove his or her case. This will give the Judge more options and some will agree to reduce your charge to a lesser offense. Remember, if the officer can prove their case, the Judge's decision whether or not to reduce your charge is discretionary. This means they do not have to reduce your reckless driving charge and many Judges simply won't.
We have seen many people represent themselves in court on a reckless driving charge that is their first offense. They appear in the Fairfax County General District Court, appear before the Judge on a "barely" reckless-type case, and be handed down a guilty finding and a fine. This result is many times avoidable if you have a Lawyer.
Get a Lawyer for a Reckless Driving Charge in Fairfax County Even for a First Offense
A lawyer can really help you avoid a misdemeanor conviction for reckless driving. Many of our clients thank us not only for our work but because they say we made the process easy for them. We keep them apprised of everything that is happening in court. We first meet with the prosecutor and present our mitigating evidence. This includes your good driving record, a driver improvement course (if one is taken), and any school or work accomplishments they have. Many times, we can simply negotiate a plea deal to a lesser and much better charge. This means the case does not need to be decided by the Judge (unless there is something extraordinary about the case - very unusual). We review the plea deal closely with you and, if you accept it, we have the Judge sign off on it. If you do not wish to accept the deal, we can go to trial to attempt to obtain the results you are seeking through the Judge or continue the case to a later date and try again at that time. The important thing to understand is that a lawyer can achieve a better result for your reckless driving case then you can on your own. You may able to mow your own lawn but not many people can fix a roof and the court system is no different. Remember, if you go to court alone, it will be just you, the charging police officer, and the Judge.