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Cop is no-show for trial; HE goes to jail

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Cop is no-show for trial; HE goes to jail

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
November 17, 2012


The next time a cop or deputy is thinking about not showing up for a court case, he might want to read (or re-read) this article about Florida Highway Patrol Trooper John Costa.

Trooper Costa got five days in the slammer for not showing up for the DUI trial of a motorist with a history of drunk driving.

The judge acquitted the man charged with DUI.

People think that a cop always shows up in court, but even in McHenry County Circuit Court cops have not shown up for trials.

Our system here actually works against the person accused, especially when it's a traffic charge. The first court date is a plea date, and the officer routinely doesn't show up for that. You either suck it up and plead Guilty and pay your fine, including huge court costs, or you plead Not Guilty. At this point, either way you are going to get stuck for court costs, which now will be close to or over $200, even if your fine is only $25.00.

A cop may mark your traffic ticket as Must Appear. When you see that, you'd better hit the ATM on the way to court.

Talk to a lawyer or to the cashier at the courthouse to find out if your court costs will be the same, whether you plead guilty or decide to "fight" it. Of course, if you "win" and are found not guilty in either a bench or jury trial, then you pay no fine and no court costs.

Is it worth it to fight? If you believe you can tell your story more persuasively than the prosecution can, you must just want to "Go for it".

The difference is when you get a ticket and have the option to pay it by mail or before your court date. Then you have to decide if you are a gambler. Are you willing to pay the fine and not risk the additional money for court costs? Or do you want to roll the dice? If you lose in court, then it will cost you the fine PLUS the court costs.

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