What Happens When You Go to Court on a Traffic Ticket
This article addresses Court Appearances for Traffic Tickets, known as infractions, like a speeding ticket.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO TO COURT...The first time to you go to a Los Angeles Superior Court of California to deal with your traffic ticket, you will probably be directed to a clerk's window. The clerk will probably tell you that you have to set a date in the future to be heard by a judge. Then you will have to go back to court another day. That second time will be before a judicial officer, maybe a judge, commissioner, temporary judge, or otherwise.
The People Working in CourtBesides the judge, there is a bailiff and clerk. The bailiff may seem friendly or mean, but it does not matter. His or her job is to maintain order, and security, in the courtroom. "Turn off your cell phone!" is the first thing you may hear. Then the bailiff will call through all of the cases as a roll call. Persons that did not answer will be put in a separate pile. Persons that come in late may have to wait until the very end to have their case called. This could take from 8:30am until noon, or until after lunch. There is also a court clerk. The clerk is basically the secretary that runs the paperwork show and assists the judicial officer with details. Sometimes the clerk or the judge does the roll call. Some judges like to do it themselves to establish their presence and to expedite the process. This is called calling the calendar.
Your Case is CalledCases will be called in some order that you cannot change, so you may be stuck waiting in court a few hours, or all day. (FYI: I have noticed that sometimes people bring babies to court with them. This never elicits sympathy from the court to have your case heard sooner. If the baby cries, the bailiff tells them to wait outside. If their case is called while waiting outside, maybe a warrant would be issued.) Basically, just trying to get your case heard will take at least a few hours and a trip to court, if not two separate trips to court.
Answering to the CourtNow the Judge will want to know how you plead, whether to plead guilty or fight another day by pleading not guilty. There are some other options, but those are for another discussion. If you want to fight, it will be another day. There are only limited actions that can be taken at the first hearing, called the arraignment.