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How do I contest my citation?

To contest your citation, you must appear for arraignment or schedule a future court trial date. Bail must be posted to schedule a future court trial date.

At the arraignment, if you plead "Not Guilty", your case will be continued or scheduled for a court trial date.

If your violation is an Infraction, you may also contest a citation without appearing in court simply by requesting a trial by written declaration on or before the due date on your courtesy notice. Bail must be posted.

Contesting A Citation

An arraignment is a hearing where an individual is advised by the Court of his/her rights and the charges against him/her. The individual will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Please note that the citing officer will not be present in court. The arraignment is the first step to scheduling a court trial where you can contest your citation.

Arraignments are usually done at Walk-In Court. Bail is required for all court trials (40519b CVC).

Walk-In Court is available at the following Courthouses:

Court Trial
The examination of facts and law will be presided over by a judge (or other magistrate such as a commissioner or judge pro tem). The officer(s) will be subpoenaed to present any factual evidence. At this time, you must also be prepared to produce all evidence, documents, or witnesses to support your case. The individual has the right to bring witnesses or have a lawyer present. The courts will not provide an attorney.
Trial by Written Declaration
Vehicle Code section 40902 allows a defendant to contest citations in writing, without having to make a personal court appearance. This procedure is called a "trial by written declaration". Trial By Declaration only applies to Infractions, not Misdemeanors. You must request a trial by written declaration on or before the due date on your courtesy notice. Bail must be posted when the request is made. The individual mails in a written statement on a Trial by Written Declaration form explaining and outlining the facts and events of the case. The individual may include any documentary evidence that could help his/her case. A written report by the citing officer will be subpoenaed. The Commissioner will review all documentation and the ruling will be issued by mail. If you are dissatisfied with the judgment, you may request a new trial provided you do so within 20 days of the mailing of the notice of judgment.

This procedure is not available for misdemeanors, accidents, mandatory court appearances, or non-traffic local ordinance violations.

The following must be met in order to qualify for a Trial by Written Declaration:
  • Full bail must be paid.
  • Violation(s) must be vehicle code infractions only.
  • No accident involved.
  • No failure to appear or failure to pay fine on the case.
  • No prior failure to appear on the case.
  • Enter a "not guilty" plea in writing.
  • Instructions and forms for a Trial by Written Declaration may be obtained by contacting the court through the mail, in person, or by selecting the following link: Get the Trial By Written Declaration Form
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