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Making It Easier To Prosecute

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Making It Easier To Prosecute

Old 08-25-19, 07:09 PM
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JW Fas
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Making It Easier To Prosecute

Aside from enacting friendlier laws, I would love it for every state to make it easier to prosecute existing ones. In the United Kingdom a cyclist can get a motorist cited merely by sending the police video of an infraction. So long as the plate and driver's face are clearly visible, issuing a citation is very easy and typically results in fines of several hundred pounds. I don't know of a state in the US where it's that easy. Typically, if no collision occurs, an officer has to witness the violation. Otherwise, you have to get hit for law enforcement to do anything. If there are any lawyers who frequent this subforum, I'd like to know why we don't use the UK's model and why it's so hard to change our existing one.
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Old 08-26-19, 11:37 AM
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A number of years ago I had a very, very close call and was almost hit by an impatient driver who did something both arrogant and stupid. I usually just brush things off, but this one was so outrageous that I contacted the police. The deal was that I was stopped at a red light positioned in the left side of the lane with the stupid driver right behind. I had signaled my intention turn left before I stopped, but am unsure whether this motorist saw it. When the light turned, I proceeded to start my turn only to be surprised by this lady as she zoomed by me on my left. Had it all on camera including a shot of her face and a clear plate number.

I reported it by phone and an officer called me back. 1) he refused to even look at my video. 2) Told me that since I was not hit, there was nothing he could do 3) and then he started this long discussion about how cyclists need to obey all of the laws and how many cyclists he sees that don't ... and how many of them get injured, etc. I had to interrupt him to tell him that this was irrelevant to my report and asked again for him to look at my video. He refused again, but did offer to do a license check. Never heard back.

I do understand that the police have to be a primary observer in order to make a charge; however video is very powerful and it sure would be nice if they accepted it in support of a charge. I do know that I could swear out a warrant but proving the complaint sufficiently for the motorist to be charged is tough.

Can't answer your question, though.
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Old 08-26-19, 06:05 PM
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With the video you could have filed charges against the other person. You could have testified to the authenticity of the video. On the other hand to anyone else the video is just hearsay of unknown providence. That is as it should be.

If you feel strongly about this and want to make a difference you should use the video you say is proof, file charges and let system work.

Last edited by Hawkowl2; 08-26-19 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 08-26-19, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
With the video you could have filed charges against the other person. You could have testified to the authenticity of the video. On the other hand to anyone else the video is just hearsay of unknown providence. That is as it should be.

If you feel strongly about this and want to make a difference you should use the video you say is proof, file charges and let system work.
This is part of the problem. Civilians cannot file charges. Only prosecuting attorneys can, and if the police won't do anything, you're up the creek. The whole point of my post was to remove barriers like this.
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Old 08-26-19, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
This is part of the problem. Civilians cannot file charges. Only prosecuting attorneys can, and if the police won't do anything, you're up the creek. The whole point of my post was to remove barriers like this.
Are you arguing about the word "charges'?

There may be someplace in the US where a citizen cannot file a complaint against someone else. But I don't know where that might be. Then you are the prosecutor. Not a common thing. But it is done.
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Old 08-26-19, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
Are you arguing about the word "charges'?
We're talking criminal charges, which are the only kind used in this context.

Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
There may be someplace in the US where a citizen cannot file a complaint against someone else. But I don't know where that might be. Then you are the prosecutor. Not a common thing. But it is done.
Anyone can file a complaint; everyone knows that. Not everyone can formally file (AKA "press" for those who watch too much CSI) charges, because you have to be a district attorney. DAs only file charges after police have conducted an investigation.
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Old 08-27-19, 06:23 AM
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While a citizen can file a civil case for damages against another, he or she cannot file directly for criminal charges. That's up to the prosecutors.

In the absence of a citation or arrest by the police, which may then lead to charges by the prosecutor, the only recourse a citizen has is to go before a magistrate or judge and swear out a bench warrant. This involves stating under oath why you think a crime has been committed and presenting your evidence. If the magistrate or judge agrees, then a warrant is issued.

Good luck with this process when you are only reporting a minor traffic offense.
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Old 08-27-19, 12:29 PM
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Going back to the first post. Asking the System to do something over a scare is surely a non-starter. Other than a possible traffic infraction, from what was posted, that is what happened. Close calls seldom get citations, or even a nod of the head.

The broader question is how responsive the DA should be. Frankly, there is no use whining about it. But there are time proven ways to make the prosecutor care.

More fundamentally, I'm glad our basic rights are not being compromised.
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Old 08-27-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
Going back to the first post. Asking the System to do something over a scare is surely a non-starter. Other than a possible traffic infraction, from what was posted, that is what happened. Close calls seldom get citations, or even a nod of the head.

The broader question is how responsive the DA should be. Frankly, there is no use whining about it. But there are time proven ways to make the prosecutor care.

More fundamentally, I'm glad our basic rights are not being compromised.
This is true, but the flip side is that there are programs like the Close Call Database. So that if and when there is an issue, any driver that has been previously reported can't get away with claiming it was 'one time', or an accident or similar bull**** (especially if they've killed the cyclist and there's no witnesses). These are the kinds of tools that we, as the cycling public, need, IMO, to make it easier for the police/prosecutors to do their jobs (when they can be bothered).
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Old 08-27-19, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post

More fundamentally, I'm glad our basic rights are not being compromised.
If you get caught on video breaking a law and the cops mail you a ticket, what rights are being violated?
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Old 08-27-19, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
In the absence of a citation or arrest by the police, which may then lead to charges by the prosecutor, the only recourse a citizen has is to go before a magistrate or judge and swear out a bench warrant. This involves stating under oath why you think a crime has been committed and presenting your evidence. If the magistrate or judge agrees, then a warrant is issued.

Good luck with this process when you are only reporting a minor traffic offense.
This is the crux of my OP. Why can't we make it easier to cite drivers who commit infractions that are known for leading to fatalities based on video evidence alone? If you have the plate and their face, you've established who operated the vehicle, the location, and time. It doesn't infringe motorist's rights since they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public. Not to mention it would be incredibly easy money for the states.
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Old 08-27-19, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
If you get caught on video breaking a law and the cops mail you a ticket, what rights are being violated?
That is not in the context of this thread. In this thread the video was apparently taken by the OP.

From what was posted it appears the OP wants punitive action taken against people based an unsubstantiated video. That purportedly shows someone in a close call that scared the OP.

Last edited by Hawkowl2; 08-27-19 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 08-27-19, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
From what was posted it appears the OP wants punitive action taken against people based an unsubstantiated video. That purportedly shows someone in a close call that scared the OP.
You need to start justifying your word salad. Let me show you examples in the UK where video led to citations.



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Old 08-27-19, 07:44 PM
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What they do in Britain does not apply here in the US. Nor should it.
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Old 08-27-19, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
What they do in Britain does not apply here in the US. Nor should it.
Why shouldn't it?
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Old 08-27-19, 10:37 PM
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That is a question that would better addressed to your Civics and History teachers
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Old 08-28-19, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
If you get caught on video breaking a law and the cops mail you a ticket, what rights are being violated?
Your right to confront your accuser, which is guaranteed under the sixth amendment.
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Old 08-28-19, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
Your right to confront your accuser, which is guaranteed under the sixth amendment.
😳 that took long enough.
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Old 08-28-19, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
Your right to confront your accuser, which is guaranteed under the sixth amendment.
Who needs that? A prosecutor (or private citizen) ought to be allowed to accuse me of any outrageous thing they want, get a conviction, and not have to even listen to my side of the story.

6th Amendment!

* scoffs *
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Old 08-28-19, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by sarhog View Post
Your right to confront your accuser, which is guaranteed under the sixth amendment.
The accuser in this instance would be the person testifying that the video is authentic and that it depicts the driver violating the law. All the 6th Amendment guarantees is the right to cross examine that person.
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Old 08-28-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Who needs that? A prosecutor (or private citizen) ought to be allowed to accuse me of any outrageous thing they want, get a conviction, and not have to even listen to my side of the story.

6th Amendment!

* scoffs *
How does the presentation of video evidence in court violate the 6th amendment? That's ridiculous.
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Old 08-28-19, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
The accuser in this instance would be the person testifying that the video is authentic and that it depicts the driver violating the law. All the 6th Amendment guarantees is the right to cross examine that person.
What person? I was answering the question about a cop mailing you a ticket. There was no person mentioned in that scenario.
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Old 08-28-19, 03:35 PM
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Did you hear a "clang-clang??"

Everything is fine and dandy when you deal with hypothetical situations. You have clear video evidence of a motorist operating a motor vehicle in violation of traffic laws, which is clear and convincing and leaves out no context. You show that your version of events hews closest to the video presented to the court. The video can be shown to be uncut and unedited. All for a $150 ticket for reckless operation and some points on a license.

Unfortunately, due to the presumption of innocence (key here), the amount of work required to demonstrate that an individual committed a traffic infraction beyond a reasonable doubt with no observing public safety officer (who are trained to provide testimony that can withstand cross-examination) is simply not worth the police or investigator's time. True, this could happen in an idyllic burgh where the police are looking for things to investigate, but any place where crimes involving injury to persons or loss of property take place will preferentially investigate and prosecute those crimes over a traffic infraction any day of the week. The populace would demand no less. This is why threatening someone can land you in jail for a month, while operating a vehicle recklessly will result in just a fine and a potentially restricted license.

While hitting someone in the pocketbook might make a dent in the problem, the true issue and best resolution lies with education. We're usually taught specific rules and penalties regarding driving while intoxicated and stopped school buses, but there's never a mention about what to do about bicycles or other slow traffic. In Ohio, you are allowed to cross a double yellow to pass if a vehicle is moving less than half the posted limit (obviously some wiggle room there). That covers tractors, carriages/buggys, and us pedalcycle users. I can understand a driver in a hurry being frustrated if they don't understand the law. They're important and have somewhere to be! Now I have to crawl along behind this selfish cyclist using the whole road when he can use the shoulder and let me through...

Unless we earn a special protected status on streets and roads with a splashy fine or penalty, a prosecutor won't look at it unless a cop wrote the ticket and will be the star witness. Ugly but true.
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Old 08-28-19, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hawkowl2 View Post
That is a question that would better addressed to your Civics and History teachers
Don't deflect if you can't bolster the claims you made. That's nothing short of intellectual dishonesty.
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Old 08-28-19, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Unfortunately, due to the presumption of innocence (key here), the amount of work required to demonstrate that an individual committed a traffic infraction beyond a reasonable doubt with no observing public safety officer (who are trained to provide testimony that can withstand cross-examination) is simply not worth the police or investigator's time.
It's interesting how you underlined and emboldened that particular phrase, because states different infractions from crimes. Most moving violations are the former and only cross into being crimes at certain thresholds. For example, in my state (MO) failing to leave adequate distance when passing a cyclist is an infraction by itself but rises to a Class C misdemeanor if physical contact is made. There is a good reason traffic courts don't have juries and don't afford you the same entitlements as full criminal courts. The officer's testimony is worth its weight in gold in traffic court and only comes into question if you, the defendant, can produce evidence casting doubt on it. A cop can cite you for speeding and doesn't have to produce hard evidence of it. They could say they clocked you by riding alongside, and it's up to you to show that their testimony isn't sound, whereas in a full criminal court you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because of this, there is no reason video evidence should not be admissible in traffic court, especially since it can't lie and is therefore a more reliable form of evidence than an officer's testimony.


Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
While hitting someone in the pocketbook might make a dent in the problem, the true issue and best resolution lies with education. We're usually taught specific rules and penalties regarding driving while intoxicated and stopped school buses, but there's never a mention about what to do about bicycles or other slow traffic. In Ohio, you are allowed to cross a double yellow to pass if a vehicle is moving less than half the posted limit (obviously some wiggle room there). That covers tractors, carriages/buggys, and us pedalcycle users. I can understand a driver in a hurry being frustrated if they don't understand the law. They're important and have somewhere to be! Now I have to crawl along behind this selfish cyclist using the whole road when he can use the shoulder and let me through...
This education mantra is not the ultimate panacea. It works to a degree, but the crux of the matter is most motorists simply do not adequately fear the consequences of bad driving habits. The fact that 25% of all crashes nowadays are caused by distracted driving (namely cell phone use) is indicative of that.
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