Troy Municipal Court offers one-time plea, payment deal for non-DUI offenses
If you’re facing a court date in municipal traffic court, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic you may be able to enter a plea, pay your fine and skip the in-person hearing.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Troy Municipal Court has not met since early March,” said clerk Neal Armstrong. The next session is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 6.
“The Supreme Court did not allow court in April or May, but crime doesn’t stop,” Armstrong said. “We’re looking at having over 300 people on our June docket …
“It will be a very long day, much longer than usual for our plea court sessions.”
Due to that high number of cases and safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, Armstrong said Judge Matt Baker is allowing a one-time, advanced electronic plea opportunity for non-DUI motor vehicle citations that normally would require a hearing before a judge.
“The state Legislature mandates that you stand before a judge for some citations … you can’t just pay a ticket, like you could with a simple speeding ticket,” Armstrong said.
These violations include driving without a license, driving while suspended, driving while revoked, reckless driving, no tag, failure to register, aggravated speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road, among others.
“When the policeman hands the ticket to them, there are instructions on there so they know if they are supposed to come before a judge,” Armstrong said.
In these cases – excluding any DUI offenses – Armstrong said defendants can take advantage of this one-time electronic plea offering to avoid a court appearance.
Normally, the court allows defendants to pay the ticket in full or apply for a payment plan after they see the judge in open court. “Many times, folks sit in our courtroom for over an hour or more just to be afforded the luxury of being placed on a payment plan,” Armstrong said. “In an effort to limit human contact as much as possible and as a precautionary measure, we will allow you this one-time opportunity to enter a guilty plea either by email, fax, snail mail or in person,” Armstrong said.
He estimated 60 to 65 percent of the cases on the June docket would qualify for the plea deal, adding that all please must be entered before the June 3 docket call.
To take advantage of the opportunity defendants should write a short paragraph including their full name as it appears on the driver’s license, last four digits of your Social Security Number, your date of birth, your phone number and your email and physical address.
The paragraph should also include the following: Dear Judge Baker, I understand my rights and I would also like to waive my rights to counsel. I would like to enter a guilty plea for the charge of ______.”
“Judge Baker will review the plea and individuals can apply for a pay plan the same way they submitted their plea,” Armstrong said. “A court staffer will be in touch after Judge Baker reviews the plea.”
Pleas may be entered:
• via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
• via mail to P.O. Box 549, Troy, AL 36081
• via fax to 334-566-4845
• In person at 300 Elm Street, Troy AL
Anyone with questions about the program or about their ability to qualify can call the court office at 334-566-4248.