Monday, July 29, 2019

Your first traffic court appearance - part 1

Are you in court for a traffic ARRAIGNMENT?
Not this kind of rain
This is the date indicated on your citation/ticket, or otherwise called your first court appearance.

In Southern California, the vast majority of folks who receive a traffic ticket either pay the fine BEFORE the court date on the ticket [so they don't have to show up], or show up at the first hearing, plead guilty or no contest, pay the fine, and put it behind them.  If you really want to do either of those, please do.  At least you took care of it.
I am guilty!
Failure to appear is a misdemeanor in CA and generally results in (1) a bench warrant for your arrest, (2) your driver's license suspended, and (3) an additional fine of $300+.  Receiving a ticket is bad enough.  Don't makes things worse for yourself.
This bird is having a bad [hair] day
A “no contest” plea has the same basic effect as a guilty plea in the criminal/traffic case, but can't be used against you in a civil case.  For example, if you ran a red light and crashed into someone, you can plead “no contest” and pay the fine.  This plea can't be used against you if/when the driver of the car you hit sues you for personal injury.  However, if you plead “guilty” in the traffic case, your admission of guilt can [read: will] be used against you in the civil case.  So basically, best to plead no contest.
I typed "no contest" into Wikimedia and this was the first image
Showing up in court, rather than just paying the fine, does have some benefits.  For example, you can request a lower fine, a payment plan, or to convert your fine to community service.
In SoCal, most community service is picking up trash on the freeway or the beach
Next week – deciding whether to fight the ticket.

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