How to beat a traffic ticket in California
Trial by Written Declaration provides two chances to win. If you lose, you can request a new trial. If the officer fails to submit a declaration or fails to appear, the citation is dismissed. If the officer appears, a plea bargain to a no point violation is usually possible.
Trial by Written DeclarationWhat is a 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. This procedure is called a "trial by written declaration." Trials by written declaration are available in cases involving infraction violations of the Vehicle Code or of local ordinances adopted under the Vehicle Code.
Are you eligible to request a trial by written declaration?
If you have been charged with a traffic infraction or a violation of a local ordinance adopted under the Vehicle Code, you can request a trial by written declaration unless you were issued a ticket for an offense involving alcohol or drugs or the violation requires a mandatory appearance in court.
Additional eligibility requirements include:
You were issued a ticket for infraction violations only;
The due date to take care of your ticket has not passed; and
Your ticket or courtesy notice does not say that you must appear in court.
How do you ask for a trial by written declaration?
You can ask for your trial by written declaration in person at the clerk*s office or by mail sent to the courthouse address listed on your ticket.
If you mail your request and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, the court will mail you instructions and a form entitled Request for Trial by Written Declaration (form TR-205). The top portion of the form you receive should be filled out by the court clerk with important information; read it carefully. Once you get the form and instructions, you can fill out the paperwork.
Is payment of bail required for a trial by written declaration?
Yes. Vehicle Code section 40902 requires that you deposit bail in order to have a trial by written declaration. Deposit of bail is the choice you make for the convenience of not having to travel and appear in court to resolve your traffic ticket.
What happens in a trial by written declaration?
Choosing to have your trial by written declaration means that instead of going to court to contest your case, you and the officer file statements and any evidence in writing.
Evidence may include:
The "Notice to Appear" ticket;
A business record or receipt;
A sworn declaration of the citing officer;
A written statement or letter signed by the defendant; and/or
Any written statements or letters signed by witnesses.
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 yourself, 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.
Trial de Novo or New TrialIf 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 go to 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; and
To remain silent and not testify and not incriminate yourself.