California Traffic Tickets Contested in Court – What Happens Next?

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Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedWhat happens when I get to court?

The court bailiff or clerk will give some preliminary instructions and then check in those people appearing in court.  Then the cases will be called by a judge or a court commissioner who has, pursuant to Government Code Section 72190, been empowered to rule on infraction matters.  The court will listen to the statement of the sworn witness(es) against you, and you may question each witness.  You may then present your case to the court, and the court will rule on the matter.

Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedWhat if I am found not guilty?

Your bail deposit will be returned to you within 6-8 weeks.  Immediately after the trial, check with the clerk or bailiff to verify your address

What if I am found guilty?

In most cases, the sentence imposed will be a fine not exceeding the amount of bail you have on deposit.  In some cases, the judge will find a defendant guilty but suspend the fine.  This means that your bail money will be returned, but a conviction will still show on your driving record.

Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedWhat if I do not appear at the trial time?

Your bail will be forfeited, and a conviction will show on your driving record as though you had paid your ticket.

Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedWhat if I need to change my trial date?

If it becomes necessary to change your court date, you may do so only once.  In order to do so you must send a letter or call the court at least 10 business days prior to your trial date in order to secure a new date.

How long will the trial take?

Most trials take a very short amount of time, but that depends on how many people are scheduled to appear at the same time as you. Some people's cases are more complicated and will take longer than others. You should plan to be at court all day. Remember to check your trial date, division, and time.

Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedShould my witnesses appear?

If you have witnesses that are necessary for your defense you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court.  If you need subpoenas to order your witnesses to court, you usually can obtain the subpoenas from the Clerk’s Office at the court.  This should be done well in advance of your trial date.  Fill them out, have them served and filed with the court on or before your trial date.  Remember that the defendant cannot serve the subpoena and the persons served must be given reasonable advanced notice of the date and time to appear.

Commercial Traffic Ticket ContestedShould I bring evidence?

If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits which you will be presenting at the time of trial, bring them with you on your trial date.

Will the officer who wrote the citation be in court?

The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court by the prosecutor.  In most cases, he or she will appear.  In some cases, unavoidable circumstances may prevent or delay his/her appearance.  If the witness(es) against you does not appear and you do appear, the violations will generally be dismissed.

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