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Contesting your Citation

Your Rights

As a defendant you have the following constitutional and statutory rights:



  • To be informed of the charges against you in open court.
  • To be represented by a lawyer.
  • In infraction matters, you are not entitled to a court appointed lawyer, however you may hire your own lawyer.
  • In misdemeanor matters, you may hire your own lawyer or if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court may appoint one for you at no initial cost. (However, the court may order reimbursement of costs according to your ability to pay.)
  • To a speedy and public trial within 45 days of arraignment, or a court trial in infraction cases.
  • To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against you.
  • To put on a defense and as part of that defense to testify in your own behalf and to obtain a document (a subpoena) to compel witnesses to appear without expense to you.
  • To remain silent and not to be called as a witness during your own court proceeding.
  • To a court or jury trial in misdemeanor cases.
  • To appeal if you are found guilty at a trial provided you file your notice of appeal within 30 days and follow other court rules.

COURT TRIALS

In infraction cases, a judicial officer will hear your case instead of a jury.  For your arraignment and court trial, you can hire an attorney to represent you or appear on your own without an attorney. The court is not authorized to appoint an attorney for infraction cases unless the defendant is in custody. If you require an interpreter, please let the court clerk know at the time you request your court trial.

Under Penal Code sections 17(d) and 19.8, if certain offenses are charged as an infraction instead of as a misdemeanor, you can ask that the infraction charge be tried with a jury as a misdemeanor. However, jail may be part of the sentence in a misdemeanor case, unlike infractions where the sentence is limited to a fine. If possible, talk to an attorney before you make this decision to make sure you are doing what is best for you.

At your court trial, the police officer will state why he or she gave you the ticket. You or your attorney can:

  • Question the officer who gave you the ticket,
  • Bring witnesses,
  • Present evidence, and
  • Argue the law.

After the evidence is presented the judge may rule immediately whether you are guilty or not guilty or the case may be taken under submission before deciding. If the case is taken under submission, you will be notified of the ruling by mail or you may choose to return to court.

If you are found not guilty and you paid bail before the trial, the full amount will be refunded to you (or the person who paid) by mail. If you are found guilty and you paid bail before the trial, the court will apply the bail money to the fine. If the fine is less than the bail deposit, any balance to be refunded will be mailed to you by the court. If the fine is more than the bail deposit, you will be responsible  for paying the balance due or requesting community service (Penal Code section 1209.5), a payment plan, or a reduction  based on inability  to pay (Vehicle Code section 42003).

If you disagree with the court's decision, you may file an appeal. Read the Information on AppealProcedures for Infractions (Form CR-141-INFO) for instructions on how to appeal infractions.

 

Requesting A Court Trial

There are three ways to request a Court Trial:

 

1. Appear in-person for arraignment to request a court trial (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 and you wish to request a court trial, you must appear for arraignment as instructed on the citation, even if you do not receive a Reminder Notice. When you appear for an arraignment hearing, the judicial officer will explain what the charges are, inform you of your rights, and ask you if you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest (also called "nolo contendere"). If you say "not guilty" you are telling the Court you want to contest the charge(s) against you. The judicial officer will give you a date for a court trial by a judicial officer without a jury within 45 days. You may waive your right to a speedy trial and have it scheduled within a reasonable amount of time. If you require an interpreter, please let the court clerk know when you appear for arraignment.   

Generally you are not required to post bail before trial if you appear for arraignment, however 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 your particular case, you are unlikely to appear without a deposit of bail.
2. Appear in-person at the clerk’s counter to request a court trial (Bail is not required)

You may ask the clerk in person at the court to set your case for arraignment and court trial. You must appear on or before your due date at either Clerk’s Office listed below during regular business hours, and have your matter set for arraignment and court trial without posting bail.

Independence 
168 North Edwards Street           
P.O. Box 518      
Independence, CA 93526

Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Open Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Bishop 
301 West Line Street 
Bishop, CA 93514

Open Monday - Thursday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Open Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

3. Written request for court trial – Bail MUST be posted before your trial

If you want to plead not guilty in writing by mail, and schedule your arraignment and court trial for the same date, you may do so by paying the full bail amount and mailing a letter to the court. Your letter should state that you wish to plead “Not Guilty” and request a court trial. Your case will be set for an arraignment and court trial on the same day, unless you request arraignment and trial on separate days. When your request is received by the court, the clerk will mail you a “Notice of Trial” advising you of your court date. Again, to take advantage of this convenience, deposit of traffic bail is required. (See Vehicle Code section 40519(b).) If you are found not guilty at trial, your bail will be returned.

 

 

TRIAL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION

Vehicle Code section 40902 allows a defendant to challenge traffic infraction citations in writing, without having to appear in person at court. Both the defendant and the citing officer provide testimony and evidence in writing, and a judicial officer makes a decision. This procedure is called a "trial by written declaration."

Trials by written declaration are available in cases involving infraction violations of the Vehicle Code.  This option does not require a personal appearance.  A Trial by Written Declaration requires you to post bail in lieu of your appearance. The total bail amount due must be posted in full before the process will begin. If you are found not guilty, your bail will be returned. The Request for Trial by Written Declaration forms (TR-205 & TR-200) may be obtained online at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm or in person at the Court. 

Failure to post the full bail amount will result in your case not being heard and may subject you to a civil assessment penalty of $300, a late charge in the amount of 50% of the total initial penalty, a hold on your driver’s license, and the referral of your case to a collection agency.  

You are eligible to request a trial by written declaration if:

  • You were issued a ticket for infraction violations of the Vehicle Code only;
  • Your ticket is not for an offense involving alcohol or drugs;
  • The due date to take care of your ticket has not passed; and
  • Your ticket or reminder notice does not say that you must appear in court.

IMPORTANT: By filing a declaration in a trial by written declaration, you are waiving and giving up the rights to remain silent and not incriminate your self, and the right to a public and speedy trial.  You are also waiving the right to appear in person before a judicial officer, except that you will have a right to a new trial (also called "trial de novo") in court if you disagree with the court's decision in your trial by written declaration.

 

Requesting A Trial by Written Declaration

There are three ways to request a Trial by Written Declaration:

 

1. Complete the Request for Trial by Written Declaration form and mail it to the court with the full bail amount

  • Obtain the Request for Trial by Written Declaration and Instructions forms (TR-205 & TR-200) online at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm
  • Fill out the Request for Trial by Written Declaration form (TR-205), Attach any witness statements and evidence to the form. All declarations or statements must be signed under penalty of perjury.
  • You may ask the Court to consider authorizing traffic school in your declaration.
  • Pay the full bail amount listed on your reminder notice or provided by the clerk and mail your original completed forms to the court by the due date.
  • You must either mail a check or money order for the full bail amount with your written declaration, or pay the full amount online prior to the due date. If you pay online, choose “Trial by Declaration” as the Payment Type.
  • Make an extra copy of all your forms. These copies are for your records. If you prepare your statement without using a form TR-205, make sure to keep at least one copy of it. And keep a copy of any statements made by your witnesses. Keep your paperwork in a safe place.
  • When your request is processed by the clerk, the police officer will provide a written statement. When the clerk receives your Request for Trial by Written Declaration, the clerk will let the police officer who issued your citation know. The officer will then have the opportunity to submit a declaration about the citation.
  • The court will make a decision by a specific due date. A judicial officer will review the papers filed by you and the officer and make a decision on your case. You will get the court's decision by mail telling you whether you were found guilty or not guilty. You should expect a decision by mail approximately 5 months after you initiate the trial by written declaration process.
Mail the full bail amount to the court and request the clerk to mail the Request for Trial by Written Declaration forms to you

  • To have a blank Request for Trial by Written Declaration form (TR-205) mailed to you, pay the full bail amount listed on your reminder notice or provided by the clerk, and mail a letter to the court requesting that the form be mailed to you. Include a stamped self-addressed envelope for the clerk to mail the form to you. This must be done by the due date.
  • You must either mail a check or money order for the full bail amount with your request, or pay the full amount online prior to the due date, and mail your request separately. If you pay online, choose “Trial by Declaration” as the Payment Type.
  • The clerk will mail you a blank Request for Trial by Written Declaration form with a due date. You must return the completed form to the court by the due date shown on the form.
  • When you receive the Request for Trial by Written Declaration form, complete it and attach any witness statements or evidence. All declarations or statements must be signed under penalty of perjury. Mail your original completed forms to the court by the due date.
  • You may ask the Court to consider authorizing traffic school in your declaration.
  • Make an extra copy of all your forms. These copies are for your records. If you prepare your statement without using a form TR-205, make sure to keep at least one copy of it. And keep a copy of any statements made by your witnesses. Keep your paperwork in a safe place.
  • When your request is processed by the clerk, the police officer will provide a written statement. When the clerk receives your Request for Trial by Written Declaration, the clerk will let the police officer who issued your citation know. The officer will then have the opportunity to submit a declaration about the citation.
  • The court will make a decision by a specific due date. A judicial officer will review the papers filed by you and the officer and make a decision on your case. You will get the court's decision by mail telling you whether you were found guilty or not guilty. You should expect a decision by mail approximately 5 months after you initiate the trial by written declaration process.
Pick up the Request for Trial by Written Declaration forms in-person at the court:

  • You may appear in-person and pay the full bail amount and pick up a Request for Trial by Written Declaration form (TR-205).
  • The clerk will give you a blank Request for Trial by Written Declaration form with a due date. You must return the completed form to the court by the due date shown on the form.
  • When you receive the Request for Trial by Written Declaration form, complete it and attach any witness statements or evidence. All declarations or statements must be signed under penalty of perjury. Mail your original completed forms to the court by the due date.
  • You may ask the Court to consider authorizing traffic school in your declaration.
  • Make an extra copy of all your forms. These copies are for your records. If you prepare your statement without using a form TR-205, make sure to keep at least one copy of it. And keep a copy of any statements made by your witnesses. Keep your paperwork in a safe place.
  • When your request is processed by the clerk, the police officer will provide a written statement. When the clerk receives your Request for Trial by Written Declaration, the clerk will let the police officer who issued your citation know. The officer will then have the opportunity to submit a declaration about the citation.
  • The court will make a decision by a specific due date. A judicial officer will review the papers filed by you and the officer and make a decision on your case. You will get the court's decision by mail telling you whether you were found guilty or not guilty. You should expect a decision by mail approximately 5 months after you initiate the trial by written declaration process.

Independence 
168 North Edwards Street           
P.O. Box 518      
Independence, CA 93526

Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Open Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Bishop 
301 West Line Street 
Bishop, CA 93514

Open Monday - Thursday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Open Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

After the Court’s Decision

If you are found guilty:
The Decision and Notice of Decision will state the amount of the fine, penalties, and fees and will order that it be paid from your bail deposit. If the amount you owe is more than the bail you paid, the court will give you a deadline to pay the balance. If the amount you owe is less that the bail you paid, the balance will be refunded to you (or to the person who paid the bail if someone else paid it) by mail.

If you are found not guilty:
The court will refund the bail money to you (or to the person who paid the bail if someone else paid it) by mail.

If you are not satisfied with the court's decision:
You can ask for a new trial (called a "trial de novo") in court. When you ask for a new trial, you and the other parties will have to personally appear in court for that trial.  You have 20 days after the court's decision was mailed to you to ask for a new trial.  The court will start over completely in deciding your case based on the testimony and evidence presented at the court trial and is not limited by the sentence imposed in the trial by written declaration.

For a trial de novo in court, you will have the following rights:

  • To be represented by an attorney employed by you;
  • To have a public trial;
  • To testify, to present evidence, and to use court orders without cost to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence on your behalf.
  • To have the witnesses against  you testify  under oath in court, and to question such witnesses;
  • To remain silent and not testify and not incriminate yourself.

For a trial de novo in court, fill out a Request for New Trial (Trial de Novo) (Form TR-220) which can be found at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.  Mail the Request for New Trial to the court. When your request is processed by the clerk, if it was received within the 20 day timeframe, the clerk will mail you a notice providing a trial date.

 

 

© 2017 Superior Court of the County of Inyo