Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Here's How to Fight a Ticket in California


So you got a ticket. Here's what to do:


What To Do in California

  • 1
    Write a letter to the courthouse pleading not guilty and ask for trial by declaration. This allows you to contest your ticket in writing and increases your chance of getting the case dismissed.
  • 2
    Note the due date you receive for turning in your declaration. It's important that you send in your declaration by this date. If the officer fails to turn in his paperwork by this date, your case will be dismissed.
  • 3
    Fill out a "TR-205 Request for Trial by Written Declaration" form. Under "Statement of Facts," you may explain your case or simply write "I stand by my plea of not guilty."
  • 4
    Send in your declaration by certified mail with any evidence you have and a bail payment. This is usually the amount of your ticket, which you'll get back if you win your case.
  • 5
    Wait for the judge's decision. If you don't win, but the fine is lowered, you may accept the decision.
  • 6
    Request a "trial de nova" if you are found guilty by filling out a "TR-220" form within 20 days. This will allow you to contest your case in court (see Steps 2 through 8 below).


Fighting in Court

  • 1
    Plead not guilty by writing a letter to the courthouse or by going to the clerk's office. Make sure you make a note of the court date.
  • 2
    Get as many continuances as you can by claiming you can't get off work, you're out of town, or ill. The longer you delay your court date, the more likely the police officer won't show up and your ticket will be dismissed.
  • 3
    Show up to your eventual court date on time. You can't fight for your case if you aren't there!
  • 4
    Take good notes while the prosecution examines their witnesses. If anything said doesn't match what's written on your ticket, you may have found a way to win your case.
  • 5
    Cross examine the witnesses. You may challenge their certainty of fact, but treat them with respect.
  • 6
    Call and examine any witnesses you have. Ask questions that help them state the facts clearly.
  • 7
    Give your closing statement. Here you can point out any weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
  • 8
    Wait for the verdict. The judge may find you guilty, lessen your fine or find you not guilty.

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