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Signed or Unsigned- Can a ticket be used as evidence?

Posted on April 22, 2014 in DUI Case

Many defendants ask whether it matters if the officer signed the complaint or ticket at the site of issue. Unfortunately, this is a complicated topic without a concrete answer. Arizona cases have not addressed this question squarely; however, in Erdman v. Superior Court of Maricopa County, the court held that lack of a signature alone was reason enough todismiss the case. Erdman v. Superior Court, 102 Ariz. 524, 433 P.2d 972 (1967). In Erdman, one officer arrested the defendant whileanother officer signed the complaint. The issue was whether a criminal complaint was signed by someone who merely relied on another’s information, which said that the defendant committed some illegal activity, and if that is sufficient to present in court.

The court held that one’s signature relying on another person’s information is sufficient so long as the signer has reasonable grounds to believe, that a crime has been committed, is logical, reasonable, and consistent with the Constitution of Arizona. Reasonable grounds may be based wholly on actual knowledge of the facts or partly upon actualknowledge and partly or wholly upon information and belief.

If Another Officer Signed the Document

The case of Erdman v. Superior Court of Maricopa County, and its holding is a narrow rule. However, the court will likely take the liberal approach and deem the admin admissible if signed by another officer sufficient. The court will look at the factors such as the “grounds” for the relied upon information.

If No Officer Signed the Document

Unfortunately again, there is no case that addresses this situation squarely, however, there is case law that requires a magistrate (judge) or a prosecutor to sign a complaint, but no requirement that the officer is required to sign the complaint.
Kuhn v. Smith, 154 Ariz. 24, 25, 739 P.2d 1341, 1343 (App.1987).

A court may rule that because a magistrate swears in the officer that makes the complaint and the magistrate reviews that the validity of the complaint, a complaint or other court document does not require the signature of the officer.

In conclusion, there are few instances in Arizona where the lack of the arresting/observing officer’s signature will lead to dismissal. In any case, if you are pulled over, politely request to speak to an attorney. If you are charged with a DUI, you will want to contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney like we have at the Rosenstein Law Group. We fight to make sure that your rights are not taken advantage of and that you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

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