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Writing speeding citations for less than the actual speed?

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  • Writing speeding citations for less than the actual speed?

    I know a lot of guys do it, but during my academy, we were advised that it could be a problem, since we are completing and signing a government form with something that we know is not correct, which could be a problem in and of itself, but could also be a problem on the stand, if a defense attorney asks us if the speed we wrote down on the citation before signing it is actually the speed that we measured with the laser, and then went on to ask if we were dishonest in anything else that we wrote down, and so on and so forth....

    What do you guys think?

  • #2
    I don't see an issue legally. If you clock someone going 50 but write them for 45, you can still say with complete honesty that they were going 45...you can't go 50 without going 45 first, after all. Think of it as being charged with a lesser included offense, which is a totally acceptable legal tactic.

    As for whether you should do it, I'd leave that up to a combination of personal preference and department policy.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    • #3
      Yep lesser included offense. I use to never reduce the speed on the citation because of the same concern. But when I did I put the actual speed in the remarks section.

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      • #4
        There's a couple things to remember here.

        First, the violation consists of merely exceeding the speed limit. It doesn't matter if the limit is exceeded by 1 MPH or 20 (except for the severity of the penalty), so writing for a lesser sped should not be a credibility issue.

        Nexct, when you hit the overheads, the suspect's vehicle usually slowes and pulles to a stop. During that deceleration period, there was a point at which the vehicle was driving at whatever lesser speed you elect to cite for. Thus, the lesser speed you list is correct and truthful as long as it is one that is above the speed limit. I have never seen a law or court decision mandating that you cite for the highest speed driven or that you charge for each and every crime committed. Officers do have a certain amount of discretion.

        Now, there is often a lot of space in the charging section on the citation and I have seen officers make notations like "Warned for 75 MPH, cited for 65". If thoroughness and accuracy is your thing (or that of your supervisor) consider that. In doing so, you will have spelled the whole thing out with complete transparency. <= See how I slipped in the latest touchy feely politically correct word there? If a defense attorney questions this in court, the answer is simple, it was within your discretion as an officer to do so and discretionary decisions are just that - they are discretionary and do not require justification. On the stand, you can always tell the defense attorney that if he feels your giving his client a break was inappropriate, you can reluctantly ask the judge to amend the citation to the higher speed if that would make him happy.
        Last edited by L-1; 05-13-2020, 10:31 PM.
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          Thanks, L-1. That pretty much clears it up for me...

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          • #6
            When I was a sheriff's deputy "writing down" was routine.

            Where I work now they don't want us to do it. That's just fine, I just don't write tickets now for less than 20 over... 10 over in school or construction. 10-19 over get warnings, unless there's another factor involved.
            "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

            "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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            • #7
              I did that in the beginning of my career, but then more and more people were taking hearings and fighting it. So... Original speed it became.
              As far as "rights" are concerned; I look at them this way... I don't tell you what church to go to, and you don't tell me what kind of firearm I can own...

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              • #8
                Originally posted by grog18b View Post
                I did that in the beginning of my career, but then more and more people were taking hearings and fighting it. So... Original speed it became.
                Did you ever notice that when people do that, it really pi**es the judge off? "Let's see here Mr. Speeder, the nice officer gave you a break and knocked 10 MPH off the actual speed you were driving and you chose to contest the citation anyway?????"
                Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by L-1 View Post

                  Did you ever notice that when people do that, it really pi**es the judge off? "Let's see here Mr. Speeder, the nice officer gave you a break and knocked 10 MPH off the actual speed you were driving and you chose to contest the citation anyway?????"
                  Our prosecutor will almost automatically amend the citation to the higher value when this happens. The magistrates I have worked with will almost automatically approve the amended citation.

                  Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by grog18b View Post
                    I did that in the beginning of my career, but then more and more people were taking hearings and fighting it. So... Original speed it became.
                    Learned early in my career, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Citations issued for clocked speed.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by L-1 View Post

                      Did you ever notice that when people do that, it really pi**es the judge off? "Let's see here Mr. Speeder, the nice officer gave you a break and knocked 10 MPH off the actual speed you were driving and you chose to contest the citation anyway?????"
                      I did, but it still wasted my time, and when you give someone a break to be nice, and they turn around and make you come in to court... I always did well in court, but still preferred being on the road.
                      As far as "rights" are concerned; I look at them this way... I don't tell you what church to go to, and you don't tell me what kind of firearm I can own...

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                      • #12
                        Impeding the flow of traffic,......

                        Very old senior pulled out in front of me in a 45 zone, proceeded to drive approximately 5 blocks doing 10 mph.

                        Totally Not what you were asking about,.....lol, sorry.
                        Last edited by NolaT; 05-18-2020, 11:21 AM.

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                        • #13
                          I have to question the wisdom of your academy instructors. As noted above, you have to be traveling at the cited speed in order to get to the clocked speed. There is not an issue with testifying that you clocked someone doing 25 over the speed limit, but you chose to cite them for 12 over the speed limit.

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                          • #14
                            Even though I've received speeding citations in my earlier years where my speed was reduced by the officer, I never practiced that during my career. It wasn't to be hard on people, but it just wasn't done in my department as far as I know. Reading the above replies, I'm another one for wanting to put accurate information in my probable cause affidavit which accompanies the offense citation to the court. If I put that the radar display showed a certain speed, that certain speed was in the affidavit that I affirmed to with my notarized signature. It was up to the judge to be harsh or lenient in the cases before him/her.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grog18b View Post
                              I did, but it still wasted my time, and when you give someone a break to be nice, and they turn around and make you come in to court... I always did well in court, but still preferred being on the road.
                              Interestingly, related to my post above, the previous administration’s policy was not to write down.

                              Had a conversation with the new chief who told me:
                              1. My discretion to write the cite down or not.
                              2. Tell the driver I’m writing lower than I could.
                              3. If I end up in court anyway, petition to have the citation amended to the full speed observed.

                              When I was a sheriff’s deputy the difference between 19 over and 20 over was a fine or a summons into court.

                              Where I work now that break point is 24 over or 25 over. I’m not usually inclined to give somebody doing 25 over a break... 50 in a 25, 90 in a 65... usually not.
                              Last edited by tanksoldier; 06-16-2020, 08:56 PM.
                              "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                              "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                              Comment

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