contest your traffic ticket (plead not guilty)

Most types of traffic (infraction) offenses can be contested by: (1) requesting a trial by written declaration (this is done by mail – no court appearance necessary) or by: (2) requesting a court trial (court appearance required).

Trial by Written Declaration

If you request a Trial by Written Declaration, the full bail amount and the trial by written declaration paperwork must be submitted together to the Payment Processing Center at 505 S. Buena Vista, Room 201, Corona, CA 92882. Payments for Trials by Written Declaration may not be posted online.

A Trial by Written Declaration requires that 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.  You and the officer will each submit your declaration for judicial review. After review, the judicial officer will make a decision and notify you and the officer of the decision by mail.

You may obtain instructions to contest a trial by written declaration and the mandatory Judicial Council forms online at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm.

Court Trial

If you wish to contest your ticket without depositing bail, you must first appear in court for an arraignment hearing. At the arraignment hearing, you will have an opportunity to request a release on your own recognizance (“O.R.”), enter a plea and obtain a future date for the court trial. You may reserve a court date for arraignment either on-line, by mail, or in person at a traffic court location.

If you wish to have your arraignment hearing and court trial on the same date, a deposit of bail is required. You must post bail and reserve a court date for arraignment and court trial either on-line, by mail or in person at a traffic court location. Bail deposits submitted by mail should be addressed to: Payment Processing Center at 505 S. Buena Vista, Room 201, Corona, CA 92882.

Once your case is scheduled for court trial, you and the citing officer 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.

Information on how to schedule a court appearance is available online through the Court’s Request Court Appearance page. If you need assistance, you may also speak to a telephone operator at 951.222.0384. Operators are available from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except court holidays. You may also schedule an in-person appointment to speak with a clerk.

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?

    In accordance with California Rule of Court 4.105, you may contest a ticket without depositing bail. To do so, you must first appear in court for an arraignment hearing. At the arraignment hearing, you will have an opportunity to enter a plea of not guilty, request a release on your own recognizance (“O.R.”) and obtain a future date for your court trial. You may reserve a court date for arraignment either on-line, by mail, or in person at a traffic court location.

    However, if you wish to have your arraignment hearing and court trial on the same day, you will be required to deposit of bail. You can deposit bail and reserve a court date for arraignment and court trial either on-line, by mail or in person at a traffic court location. Bail deposits submitted by mail should be addressed to: Payment Processing Center at 505 S. Buena Vista, Room 201, Corona, CA 92882.

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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 Rule of Court 4.105(c)(1) requires defendants to post the full amount of the bail when requesting a trial by written declaration.

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© 2011 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside