How do I prepare for Court?
An arraignment is an initial appearance in court. At the arraignment, the charges are presented, the opportunity to enter a plea is given and, in certain cases, a determination is made whether the party has or needs an attorney. The bail amount may be set and a future appearance may be scheduled. The citing officer(s) will not be present.
At the arraignment you may enter one of the following pleas:
- Guilty: You admit to the violations(s). You may still explain the circumstances to the judicial officer. Your appearance is necessary and will result in a conviction once you enter your plea.
- Not Guilty: You deny the violation(s) and want to appear with the citing officer present.
- No Contest: You neither admit nor deny the violation(s). This plea is treated the same as a guilty plea.
The court trial is where you will be able to contest your citation. The Court will listen to the statement of the sworn witnesses against you, and may question each witness. You may then present your case to the Court, and the Court will rule on the matter. Tips on Presenting Your Case In Court
- Tell the Commissioner what street or highway you were on, what intersection, if any, was involved, and the direction you were traveling.
- Describe what happened in the order it happened. Present your best reasons first for why you think your ticket should be dismissed.
- Simple and to the point is best. If the Commissioner asks you any questions, try to answer them directly.
Tips on What Not to Do In Court
- Don't Interrupt or argue with the Commissioner or the police officer.
- Don't Repeat yourself unnecessarily.
- Don't come into court unprepared, without the documents you need for your case.
You may be required to present picture identification in court.
Case Related Documents
Bring all case related material to assist you in presenting your case. See Citations for further information on proof(s) of correction.
Be Prepared To Pay
At the conclusion of your appearance in court, be prepared to pay your fine in full.
Arrive On Time
At the start of every session, the Court provides an advisement video or brochure explaining your rights. It is important to arrive on time. It may take up to three (3) hours to complete your traffic court appearance.
Interpreter services are available, but must be ordered at the time of arraignment or request for a court trial.
Cell Phones & Pagers
Keep cell phones and pagers silent while in court.
Wear appropriate attire. Before entering the courtroom, hats, sunglasses and chewing gum should be removed. Food and drink are not permitted while Court is in session.
Court - Frequently Asked Questions
How long will the trial take?
Most trials take a very short amount of time, but you should plan to be at court for at least 3 hours on that day. REMEMBER TO CHECK YOUR TRIAL DATE, DEPARTMENT, AND TIME.
Should my witnesses appear?
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court. You can obtain the subpoena form from the Clerk's Office. Do this well in advance of your trial date. Complete the subpoena form, have the subpoena served, and file the subpoena with the proof of service with the Court on or before your trial date. NOTE: A defendant cannot serve the subpoena. The person served (witnesses) must be given reasonable advance notice of the date and time to appear for trial.
Should I bring my evidence?
If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits which you plan to present at the time of the 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.
What happens when I get to court?
The bailiff or clerk will give some preliminary instructions and then check in those people appearing in court. A Judge Or Court Commissioner who, pursuant to Government Code Section 72190, has been empowered to rule on infraction matters, will then call the cases. The Court will listen to the statement of the sworn witnesses against you, and may question each witness. You may then present your case to the Court, and the Court will rule on the matter.
What if I am found not guilty?
If you are found Not Guilty, your bail deposit will be returned to you by mail within six to eight weeks. Immediately after the trial, check with the clerk or bailiff to verify your current address.
What if I am found guilty?
In most cases, when you are found guilty, the sentence imposed will be a fine not exceeding the amount of bail you have deposited. The fine will be taken from the bail and the remaining amount will be refunded.
What if I do not appear at the trial time?
Your bail will be forfeited, and your driving record will show a conviction.
What if I need to change my trial date?
If it becomes necessary to change your court date, you may do so only once. Your request must be made at least ten court days prior to your trial date to secure a new date. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS to the minimum 10-day requirement.
Can I set a court date for a relative?
Can I appear in court for a relative?
You can appear for a relative for the limited purpose of informing the court why that relative is not available to appear on the court date set. The court has discretion whether or not to accept the excuse and set a new date.