Must the actual officer who wrote a ticket appear in court?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Must the actual officer who wrote a ticket appear in court?

I received the red light camera ticket. On the ticket that they sent me in the mail, it’s signed by a police officer with a badge number. I went to court and pleaded not guilty, however the police officer who was present was totally a different officer. Is that legal? Why is it that when a police officer doesn’t show up to court, they drop all charges but when the police officer signing the ticket doesn’t show up they could replace him/her with another officer?

Asked on November 14, 2018 under General Practice, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A red light camera ticket is not based on the personal knowledge or observations of the ticketing officer, like the typical speeding or careless driving ticket it: the officer is not a witness to the red light violation, but rather simply signs the ticket in an "administrative" or "technical" capacity. The camera footage is the proof the violation. Because the officer is not a necessary witness, they don't have to dismiss if he is unavailable; they can prove the infraction with the footage, and any officer without a familiarity with the camera and process can appear.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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