I got arrested for public intoxication in the city of West Hollywood and was given a notice to appear in court two months away. I live all the way in the bay area though and attend college full time. A random lawyer at the booking station told me that I would be able to show up at the Airport LA courthouse (while I am still visiting down here) and I would be able to pay a fine and get this all cleared up. He said to make sure my court date was taken off of the calendar so that a warrant wont be issued. However, although I couldn't contact that particular courthouse, I spoke to someone at the Hollywood courthouse. The clerk said that was not true and that I would have to wait until the citation was in the system and filed. Help! I am scared, I'm a 4.0gpa student with a clean record.
I was under the impression from the lawyer that I could show up in front of the judge and get this turned into a citation and pay a fine. The officer behind the desk at the booking station agreed with what the lawyer had told me. Is this not true? I will have to make the flight down here to attend the court date?
First I wonder how you spoke to anyone at the Hollywood courthouse where they don't do criminal cases anymore! The information that the attorney at the police station gave you was not correct as the ticket has to be put in the system before you can advance it. It also has to be reviewed by the City Attorney or District Attorney (depending upon where you were arrested) to see if they are going to file a misdemeanor, an infraction or reject the case.
In any case, you can hire an attorney who can handle it for you without coming down again. The attorney may also be able to convince the prosecutor not to file the charges. If it is a direct cite, where the DA or CA do not get involved, you would have to wait until it is in the system at LAX courthouse before you could try to advance it. What was your Blood-Alcohol level? Was there a fight? Were you thrown out of a bar? Pass out in the street? It is not easy to get arrested for this unless there is something else going on....
If you have money, you should hire an LA based criminal attorney to handle this for you asap. Perhaps this matter will be converted into a infraction at the first court date, perhaps not. If you don't have an attorney, you do have to show up to the court listed on the citation. Perhaps there's an LA based attorney that will chime in and say that you can appear at another courtroom not on the citation but I'm not aware of that. Hire an attorney or show up yourself, if you hire an attorney you don't have to show up. Since you are based in the Bay Area, it may well be worth your time and money to hire an attorney. The attorney should not charge you much for a case like this. In any case do not risk that a warrant will be issued.
You can retain an attorney who can appear for you at all proceedings. Unfortunately you will probably have to wait until the citation is in the system before you can get it on calendar. An attorney can do this for you- done all of the time. Relax - great GPA!
ANDREW ROBERTS CRIMINAL AND TRAFFIC TICKET DEFENSE ATTORNEY
You need to get some proper legal advice here. Do not rely on lawyers giving free advice, and not very good advice, in a jail or from a clerk. If you have a notice to appear you either appear or hire a local attorney to appear for you. To say you can just waltz in and get an infraction is foolish. It may be a small matter but if you have a life and career in front of you just hire someone local to deal with it so you can go about your life. Many of us offer free consults, call around to get some more detailed advice.