Contesting Your Ticket
To contest your citation, you must appear for arraignment or schedule a future court trial date. Bail must be posted to schedule a future court trial date. At the arraignment, if you plead "Not Guilty," your case will be continued or scheduled for a court trial date.
If your violation is an infraction and not a misdemeanor, you may contest a citation without appearing in court simply by requesting a trial by written declaration on or before the due date on your courtesy notice. Bail must be posted.
An arraignment is a hearing where the Court advises an individual of his/her rights and the charges against him/her. You will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Note that the citing officer will not be present in Court at this time. The arraignment is the first step to scheduling a court trial where you can contest your citation. Arraignments are usually done at Walk-In Court.
A court trial is a trial before a judge where you appear in person to contest the validity of the charges filed against you. The officer who issued the citation will be subpoenaed to appear. Other witnesses may be subpoenaed to testify, and you may subpoena witnesses to appear on your behalf. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will issue a ruling. If you are dissatisfied with the ruling, you may appeal the decision. You have the right to retain an attorney for these proceedings.
Trial by Written Declaration
A trial by written declaration is a procedure where you submit the defense to your citation in writing. The officer who issued the citation will be asked to submit their written declaration. A judge will review both declarations and issue a ruling.
The following requirements must be met to qualify for a Trial by Declaration:
- Full fine/bail must be paid. If the judge rules in your favor you will get a refund in a few weeks.
- Violation(s) must be infractions only, not misdemeanors.
- Your case cannot show any prior failure to appear or failure to pay.
- Enter a "not guilty" plea in writing. This is done on a "Request For Trial" form.
Trial De Novo (request For New Trial)
If you were found guilty after a trial by written declaration, you can file a request for a new trial. Vehicle Code 40902(d) provides for a trial de novo for a defendant who is dissatisfied with a decision of the Court. You must request the Trial de Novo within 20 days of the date the clerk mailed the Notice of Decision by filing the form "Request for New Trial (Trial De Novo)."