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Innocent Of Speeding? In MA, You'll Pay Up Anyway


Going to traffic court used to be so simple. If you were found guilty, you paid the fine and associated costs, then went home to wait for your auto insurance premium to increase.

Those days are gone, at least in Massachusetts: if you’re found not guilty of a traffic offense there, you still get to pay fees out of pocket for the appeal of your citation to a clerk-magistrate (which costs $20), or the appeal of your citation to a higher authority, a district court judge (which will set you back another $50).

The Massachusetts Supreme Court just ruled that these fees were reasonable, and not in violation of the state constitution’s equal protection clause, even for motorists found innocent of all charges. The double standard? Those arrested on, say, drug charges, have no fees levied against them when declared innocent.

In their verdict, the Massachusetts Supreme Court rationalized that getting the chance to appeal before a clerk-magistrate or a district court judge cost the state money; hence, they were simply passing that cost along to the motorist. Indigent motorists (which sounds like an oxymoron to us) can petition to have the fees waived.

For Massachusetts courts, this is a lucrative business to be in. The Newspaper reports that revenue from the appeals process before clerk-magistrates raised nearly $3.7 million in revenue for the courts last year.

Image Credit: Flickr user Brian Turner, Creative Commons 2.0

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Comments (17)
  1. So I guess that just because the courts are publicly funded doesn't mean they don't want to dip a little farther into the taxpayers pockets. This is all set up to be ripe for abused by the courts and cops. Hope somebody is following how much the arrest rates go up for minor (read bogus) infractions. I also smell kickbacks. It figures that somebody would find a way to keep their salary from being cut.
     
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  2. Thieves.... socialist thieves.... why should we have to pay when THEY are wrong.... the ticketing officer should have to pay....
     
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  3. Then the ticketing officer would never write tickets if there was a chance he could get deducted from his fixed government salary.

    Don't be naive. The judges work for the government, not us. Who funds their paychecks? Follow the $. Like a tax court judge. 96+% of the time, they side with the government.
     
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  4. Lol. Socialist. Do you actually have any idea what that word means? How on earth do you imagine that charging fees to individuals who are "using" the "service" and NOT charging them to everyone is actually socialist!? It is the EXACT OPPOSITE! So really, you are complaining because they AREN'T socialist! You socialist!
     
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  5. Yes, they have quite the racket going. I was ticketed a couple of years ago for a RR crossing violation, a $200 fine. Innocent of any wrong-doing, I fought the ticket. My first appearance was in front of a clerk-magistrate; a sergeant appeared in lieu of the officer, with the officer's report, claiming the gates were already down, and I was observed maneuvering around them (which, at this particular crossing, is next to impossible). I filed for an appeal, the lying b*****d cop didn't show, and the case was dismissed. But I was still out $20, which I suppose is a small price to pay considering the alternative, i.e., the fine, and insurance surcharges for at least 6 years. Yeah, they have quite the racket going.
     
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  6. so your appeal didn't cost extra?
     
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  7. Whoops! Accidently gave it a thumbs down...
     
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  8. I just don't understand this guilty until proven innocent thing that goes on in traffic courts.
     
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  9. It's simple; you have money, gov wants to spend it. Raising taxes requires pesky voter approval & unpopular. So they raise fees & fines.
     
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  10. With all the fruits and nuts in the Federal Gov't. that have come out of Mass. including current members of Congress, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Don't know what's in the drinking water in that State but there is some inherent problem there for sure.
     
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  11. I have an idea. Why doesn't MA charge the issuing officer instead when the defendant is found not guilty?
     
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  12. As always we continue our tradition in mass of guilty until proven Innocent and u still have to pay! This state SUCKS big time! You see what this does is it encourages police to harass motorists even more.
     
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  13. Absolutely inexcusable.
     
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  14. & their salaries r paid by our taxes!!!
    & their customer service skills svck!
     
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  15. MA also has a law that if you are convicted of DWI in NH, MA also suspends your license. Therefore, you cant get your NH license back until you pay a reinstatement fee in MA where NO OFFENSE was committed. I heard it's like $300 for MA reinstatement. What a racket!!
     
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  16. It's a revenue stream, nothing less... I went to court on a charge for VC failure to tow a trailer in the right lane as I was going around a roll over accident. The subdivision 3C of that particular VC allows for it. The judge found me guilty anyway and you should have seen the look on her face when she found out the fine was only $220. The deputy DA came over and whispered into the CHP officer's ear. I'll bet it was something to the effect, don't ever do this again. You've wasted more time and money than you just brought in. LMAO!
     
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  17. They have to raise the money so the tranny can get a sex change operation....LMFAO what a freaking state
     
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