Protecting Your Rights
Appeals to Circuit Court
Every driver has the right to appeal the decision of a traffic court judge for traffic infractions and misdemeanors. If a driver appeals the decision within 10 days, the first judge’s decision is completely dismissed and all penalties are halted. If a driver’s license is revoked by a traffic court judge and the driver appeals to the Circuit Court, the driver’s license will be returned as soon as the appeal is filed.
An appeal to the Circuit Court means a completely new trial in front of a new judge, and often with a new prosecutor. An appeal to the Circuit Court is a complete do-over. The outcome of a Circuit Court case can be better, worse, or the same as the lower court.
The Circuit Court is a completely different court system. Circuit Court judges are different from lower court judges. In some jurisdictions, the circuit court is in a different building or even a different city.
The rules and procedures in Circuit Court are different. The procedural rules are often more strict and more difficult to navigate relative to the lower courts, particularly for inexperienced defendants.
Jury trials are allowed in some Circuit Court cases. Jury trials and Circuit Court cases in general will result in much higher court costs for the defendant if convicted. Check with the Circuit Court clerk before filing an appeal to find out the exact costs.
An appeal can be withdrawn within ten days following trial in the lower court. If an appeal is withdrawn, the sentence of the lower court judge is reinstated automatically.
Motions to Reconsider
A motion to reconsider is different from an appeal in two ways. First, a motion to reconsider is heard by the same judge in the same court as before. Second, a motion to reconsider is a request for the trial judge to readdress his previous ruling.
A motion to reconsider is a two-step process. First you ask the judge to hear your request, then you ask the judge to grant your request. A trial judge may agree to reconsider the issue and then make the same decision all over again.
In the lower courts, a motion to reconsider must be made within ten days following the trial and before filing an appeal. A motion to reconsider is most appropriate in situations where there is new and important evidence that was not available at the time of trial. A motion to reconsider should not be a repeat of the same arguments that were made at the time of trial. In some cases, a motion to reconsider may be the best option for a defendant who was tried in absence and wants a new trial.
If a motion to reconsider is granted, the judge will usually reset the case to a court date in the future and the Defendant will have to reappear on that day.