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Contesting a Citation

 

When Traffic Bail is Required

When Traffic Bail is Not Required

Trial by Written Declaration

Court Trial

Contesting a Judicial Decision

Dissatisfaction with Court Decision

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To contest your citation you must appear in person or by phone on or before your scheduled arraignment date (date @ bottom of citation).  If you plead not guilty your case will be scheduled for a Court Trial at a future date.

When Traffic Bail is Required

A. Post (pay) and forfeit bail: If you do not wish to challenge your traffic citation and there is no mandatory court appearance, you must pay the bail for noncorrectable violations and provide proof of correction and pay the fees for any correctable violations by the due date on the citation. The court will report a conviction for any noncorrectable violations to the Deparment of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

B. State you intention to plead not guilty and request a trial date: If you want to plead not quilty and schedule a court trial, you may tell the court, in person or in writing, that you intend to plead not guilty. Your case will be set for an arraignment and trial date on the same day, unless your request arraignment and trial on separate days. To take advantage of this convenience, deposit of traffic bail is required. (See Vechicle Coed section 40519(a).) If you are found not guilty at trial, you bail will be returned.

C. Plead not guilty in writing and request a trial date: If you want to plead not guilty in writing and schedule a court trial, you may do so by mail or in person with the clerk. Your case will be set for an arraignment and trial date on the same day, unless you request arraignment and trial on separate days. To take advantage of thie convenience, deposit of traffic bail is required. (See Vechicle Coed section 40519(a).) If you are found not guilty at trial, you bail will be returned.

When Traffic Bail is Not Required

You have the right to appear in court for arraignment to contest the alleged traffic infraction without prior deposit of bail. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.105.) If you choose NOT to post bail under the options described under (When Bail is Required), you must appear as instructed on the citation, even if you do not receive a courtesy notice. When you appear for an arraignment heraring, you will enter a plea. If you plead not guilty at arraignment, you may ask for a court trial on a separate date. 

The court may require payment of bail at arraignment before trial if:

  • you do not sign a promise to appear as ordered by the court, or

  • the court finds (and states the reasons for the findings) that, based on the circumstances of you particular case, you are unlikely to appear without a deposit of bail.

(Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.105(c).)

Trial by Written Declaration

Trial by Written Declaration allows a defendant to contest a citation in writing, without having to make a personal court appearance.  Trials by Written Declaration are available in cases involving infraction violations of the Vehicle Code or local ordinances adopted under the Vehicle Code.

The following must be met to qualify for a Trial by Written Declaration:

  • Full bail (fine) must be paid
  • Violation(s) must be infractions only
  • Violation(s) must not involve an accident
  • No failure to appear or failure to pay fine have been added to the case

Instructions and forms for a Trial by Written Declaration may be obtained by mail or in person.  You must submit the Trial by Written Declaration form with any facts or evidence you wish the court to consider.  A written statement will be requested from the citing officer.  A judicial officer or judge will review your case and you will be notified of the decision by mail.    Trial by Written Declaration must be submitted no later than the due date stated in box A of the Trial by Written Declaration form.  Failure to submit the Trial by Written Declaration form by 4:00 p.m. or the due date will result in a forfeiture of your fees and a conviction reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Post marks are not accepted.

Dissatisfaction with Court Decision

If you are dissatisfied with the courts decision, you may ask for a new trial (Trial de Novo).  In order to obtain a new trial, you must file that Request for New Trial (Trial de Novo) (form TR-220) within 20 days after the date the courts decision was mailed to you.

A motion can be filed to request to change a plea, sentence or a finding within 180 days of conviction.

 

Court Trial

You may request a Court Trial at your Arraignment or you can request a Court Trial without appearing prior to the arraignment date.  The following requirements must be met to qualify for a Court Trial without appearing for Arraignment:

  • Full bail (fine) must be paid
  • Violation(s) must be infractions only
  • No prior failure to appear on the case
  • Entry of a "not guilty" plea in writing
  • For those electing to personally appear for Arraignment, no deposit of bail is required unless ordered by the court consistent with California Rules of Court, rule 4.105(c)(3).

The Court Trial will be presided by a judicial officer or a judge.  The officer will be subpoenaed to the trial to present factual evidence.  You must also be prepared to produce all evidence, documents, or witnesses to support your case.  Written declarations including notarized declarations from witnesses will not be accepted.

Contesting a Judicial Decision

A party may appeal an unfavorable decision made in the Trial Court to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.  The appeal must be directed towards errors of the law only.  An appeal is not a retrial, and you will not be permitted to introduce new evidence.

 

 
Superior Court of California, Kings County
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