A Florida attorney has filed suit against the state and the city of West Palm Beach alleging the new red light cameras are unconstitutional, both at the state and federal level. According to the Sun Sentinel, he states that the cameras and the procedures used in regards to them flip the tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” to “guilty until proven innocent”.
The red light cameras in Florida are fairly new. Challenges to them nationwide, however, are not. The laws went into effect on July 1st and one particular attorney has already filed 26 suits across the state.
At issue is the fact that the burden of proof is on the person getting a ticket in these cases. Put simply—the state doesn’t have to prove your guilt. Instead, if you’re innocent, you have to prove that to them.
In all criminal cases, citizens of the United States are considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proving guilt rests with the state who is pressing charges. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offense.
When a red light camera catches you, you are sent a citation. You must pay the fine unless you can prove you weren’t driving the vehicle which they caught, registered in your name. You now carry the burden of proof.
Whether the attorney’s lawsuits prove effective remains to be seen. At the time of the legislations enactment, the state found no constitutional problems with the red light cameras.
Although we are talking about a traffic citation in this case, the same is true for any criminal charge. The state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to gain a conviction. If your defense attorney can show enough “doubt” you will be acquitted or found not guilty. Interestingly, however, most cases never make it this far.
Instead, they end in a plea agreement. A plea agreement is a compromise between you, the defendant, and the prosecutor. It often works by you admitting some aspect of guilt in the charges in exchange for a more lenient sentence or for less serious charges than you were originally facing.
Just how “good” the plea bargain is depends on a lot of variables. The facts of the case, your criminal history, and even the courtroom in which your case is heard can make a difference in the outcome.
If you’re facing charges and not sure of what to do, call me today. Whether you are facing drug possession charges for the first time or if this is your 3rd DUI arrest, please contact us for a free consultation on your case.