contest your traffic ticket (plead not guilty)

For most types of traffic offenses, there are two ways to plead not guilty: Request a court trial (court appearance required) or a trial by written declaration (this is done by mail – no court appearance necessary).

Court Trial

To request a court trial, you must pay the full amount of your fine and reserve a court date online or by mail. Mail payments to the Payment Processing Center, 505 S. Buena Vista, Room 201, Corona, CA 92882.  You and the officer who cited you will be notified of the date, time and location. At the trial, you and the officer will each be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence, witnesses or documents that support the case.  The judicial officer will review the facts and the law and will make a decision concerning your case.

Trial by Declaration

If you request a written trial by declaration, you waive your right to appear, to testify in person and to subpoena witnesses.   If you do not waive these rights, you may choose a court trial.  The California Judicial Council provides instructions and a form (which is mandatory) for defendants to contest a ticket in writing.  You and the officer will submit your declaration of the facts for judicial review. After review, the judicial officer will make a decision and each of you will be notified of the decision by mail. Mail payment and trial by written declaration paperwork to the Payment Processing Center, 505 S. Buena Vista, Room 201, Corona, CA 92882.

If you are requesting a trial by written declaration, payments may not be posted online.

Questions About Court Trials


Questions About Trials by Declaration


Questions About Court Trials

    Why should I have to pay a fine before trial when I am not guilty of the offense?

    California law (Vehicle Code §40519(a)) requires defendants to post the full amount of the bail when pleading not guilty (trial by written declaration or court trial).

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  • What if I need to postpone the trial?
  • You must file a request for postponement at least 10 court (business) days prior to your trial date. Your completed request form will be submitted to the judicial officer for approval. You will be notified of the decision by mail (or by e-mail if you have provided the court with an e-mail address).

    The officer who issued the ticket is also entitled to submit a request to postpone the trial. If this occurs, you will receive a copy of the officer’s request by mail. If you object to the postponement, you have five days to file your objection.   

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  • How long will the trial take?
  • You should plan to be at court for three hours or more on the day of trial. Remember to check the date, time, and location.

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  • Should I bring my evidence?
  • Yes, If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits that you plan to present, bring them with you on the date of your trial.

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  • Should my witnesses attend the trial?
  • Yes, and if needed, the court will issue subpoenas upon request at no cost to you.

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  • What should I do when I arrive at the courthouse?
  • Report directly to the department in which your court trial is scheduled.

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  • Do I need an attorney when I go to court?
  • An attorney is not required in Traffic Court. However, if you wish to hire an attorney and have the attorney appear at your court trial, you may do so.

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  • What if I am found not guilty?
  • If you are found not guilty, the money that was posted will be refunded to you for all charges for which you were found not guilty. Important: If your mailing address changes, it is YOUR responsibility to provide your new mailing address to the Court.

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  • What if I do not appear at the time of trial?
  • Your trial may be heard in your absence. You may be found guilty and all the money you posted will be applied to your fine and a conviction will be reported to the DMV, if applicable.

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  • Will the officer who issued the ticket be in court?
  • The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court.

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  • What if I disagree with the judicial officer's decision?
  • You may file an appeal within 30 days of the judicial officer’s decision in your case. For more information on filing an appeal, click here.

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    Questions About Trials by Written Declaration

  • If I file a trial by declaration, do I still need to appear in court?
  • No. A trial by “written declaration” is a trial in writing, which is a method of pleading not guilty that avoids the to take time off to appear in court. You and the officer who cited you will each submit your statements to the court by mail. The judicial officer will review both statements and renders a decision.

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  • Do I get to talk to the judge?
  • No. A judicial officer will decide your case based on the documents you submit and the documents submitted by the officer.

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  • How can I challenge inaccuracies in the officer's statement?
  • You will not see the officer’s statement and the officer will not see yours. When you file a trial by written declaration, you agree to give up certain rights, among them the right to confront witnesses testifying against you.

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  • Why should I have to pay a fine before trial when I'm not guilty of the offense?
  • California law (Vehicle Code §40519(a)) requires defendants to post the full amount of the bail when pleading not guilty (trial by written declaration or court trial).

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© 2011 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside