TRIAL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION
On this page we have listed information on how to fight traffic tickets in California with a
Trial By Written Declaration.
What is a California Trial By Written Declaration?
In the State of California under vehicle code section 40902 defendants accused of traffic ticket violations may fight the traffic tickets with a process called Trial By Written Declaration as opposed to a traffic court trial. To fight traffic tickets using the Trial By Written Declaration process a defendant must submit a traffic ticket defense to the designated traffic court using the form for a Trial By Written Declaration court form number TR-205. The trial by written declaration documents may be submitted in person or by mail along with the bail amount in full prior to the date given by the traffic court.
Obviously, for people who get traffic tickets far away from their location of residence or work it would be more convenient to submit the trial by written declaration paperwork through the mail rather than driving to the court. Even in cases where the traffic court may not be far away, it would still be more convenient to mail the trial by written declaration documents to the traffic court rather than taking the time to go to court stand in line and then submit the trial by written declaration documents.
Once the trial by written declaration documents are submitted, it takes the traffic court between 30 days to 90 days on average to review the Trial By Written Declaration defense and make a decision on it. Then, a decision letter is sent out informing the defendant about the outcome of the trial by written declaration.
If the traffic ticket is dismissed as a result of the Trial by Written Declaration the traffic court will send a full refund of the bail amount that was submitted at the time the Trial By Written Declaration documents were filed, usually within 60 days.
If the traffic ticket is only reduced or not dismissed after a trial by written declaration a defendant can choose to accept the verdict, go to traffic school (if eligible), or continue to fight the traffic ticket in traffic court. Basically, if you lose the trial by written declaration you have lost nothing. You can still fight the traffic ticket in a court trial as if the trial by written declaration never happened.
With the verdict for a trial by written declaration, the traffic court may send the paperwork to attend traffic school or the form to file a TRIAL DE NOVO. Unfortunately, the court does not always send out the forms to request Trial De Novo with the decision letter for the trial by declaration.
If the choice is to continue to fight the traffic ticket with a Trial De Nove, the defendant has 20 days from the date on the decision letter for the trial by written declaration to file the traffic court form TR-220 requesting a new in court trial. For a Trial De Novo, the traffic court will give the defendant a specific date and time to appear in traffic court to present the traffic ticket defense to a judge. Most likely a different judge than the one who reviewed the Trial By Written Declaration.
If the traffic officer that issued the traffic ticket does not show up for the traffic court trial then the judge will dismiss the traffic ticket. If the Officer does show up, in a traffic court trial the judge will ask the Officer questions about the traffic ticket case and also will give the defendant an opportunity to present the traffic ticket defense. Then, the judge will make a decision. If the traffic ticket is dismissed then that is the end of it and the traffic court will send out a refund for the bail amount that was originally paid at the time the Trial By Written Declaration was filed. If the traffic ticket is not dismissed, then the defendant may request to attend traffic school at that time.
That was an explanation of the process to fight traffic tickets by filing a California Trial by Written Declaration and the steps that may follow.
If you have decided to fight your traffic ticket, you should use the help of our traffic ticket experts to prepare your statement of facts. Our traffic ticket experts know what traffic ticket defenses work in traffic court.
How to fight traffic tickets with a Trial by Written Declaration in California?
When people find out that they can fight traffic tickets with a Trial by Written Declaration, the most common question is how do I fight traffic ticket with a Trial by Written Declaration? Because most people have never heard that they can fight traffic tickets with a trial by written declaration. Another common question is do I need a traffic ticket attorney for a Trial by Written Declaration? Or do I need a legal document filing service to prepare my trial by written declaration?
First, you do not need a traffic ticket attorney or a legal document filing service to file your Trial by Written Declaration. You can do it yourself. Requesting the court forms for a trial by written declaration and filling them out is very easy. The most critical part of preparing a Trial by Written Declaration is what you put into your STATEMENT OF FACTS (your traffic ticket defense) for the explanation as to why your traffic ticket must be dismissed.
If you prepare a traffic ticket defense for your Trial by Written Declaration based on the usual traffic ticket excuses such as “I did not see the red light in time” or “I was going too fast to stop” or “I entered the intersection when the light was yellow” or “Everyone else was driving at 80 mph” or “I was driving with the flow of traffic” the probability that your red light camera ticket or your speeding ticket would be dismissed is almost zero.
To prepare an effective traffic ticket defense, you need a complete understanding of the California Vehicle Code, law enforcement policies and detailed expert knowledge of installation and maintenance requirements of traffic control devices such as:
- Establishing speed limits
- Speed limit signs
- Traffic signals
- Traffic signal timing
- Traffic signal operation
- Roadway striping
- Warning signs
- Construction signs
In addition, a complete knowledge of how speed detection devices such as speed RADAR, speed LIDAR or speed LASER is absolutely vital to preparing a speeding ticket defense.
To prepare a trial by written declaration defense for red light camera tickets it is essential to understand the California Vehicle Codes that established the authority for operation of automated red light camera enforcement as well as the traffic signal timing operation at the subject intersection.
For example, a defendant receives a red light camera ticket in the mail. The first thing most people do after the initial shock of the $450 for the red light ticket fine is to check out the videotape of the alleged violation on-line. By this point most people throw in the towel and decide to pay and go to traffic school (read pros and cons of traffic school). However, watching yourself go through a red light does not mean that you were actually at fault. Even when you can see yourself going through the red light on videotape or a photograph, your redlight camera ticket can be dismissed.
The reason is very simple. Automated red light camera enforcement is subject to strict rules of operation. If any one of these rules with respect to the issuance of the traffic violation or the traffic signal design and the operation is not consistent with the provision of the California Vehicle Code then that could be an excellent reason to get a red light camera ticket dismissed.
These are just a couple of examples to demonstrate the importance of preparing a traffic ticket defense based on expertise not excuses in preparing a trial by written declaration.
Also, keep in mind that in addition to having expert knowledge, you need excellent technical writing skills to prepare the statement of facts in your Trial By Written Declaration to convey the details of the reasons for which your traffic ticket should be dismissed.
If you choose to fight your traffic ticket either with a Trial by Written Declaration our traffic ticket experts can help prepare your documents for you.
6 STEPS TO FILE TRIAL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION IN CALIFORNIA
If you decide to fight traffic tickets with a Trial by Written Declaration on your own, you may do so by taking the 6 steps listed below. However, if you want us to help you fight your traffic ticket, DO NOT start the 6 step process. Sign up for our Premier Plan and let us handle the process for you to take advantage of procedural opportunities and enhance your chances of success.
6 STEPS TO FILE TRIAL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION IN CALIFORNIA
1. Look at your traffic ticket for the name/address of the traffic court and the notice to appear date to pay or appear in traffic court.
2. Write a short letter to the traffic court to plead Not guilty and request a Trial by Written Declaration. This letter must be received by the traffic court prior to your appearance date along with payment of the bail amount in full. Click here to print and fill out a blank sample letter for your use. Using certified or registered mail (with a return receipt request) to send the letter to the designated traffic court at least 7 days prior to your appearance date.
3. Once you plead not guilty and request Trial by Written Declaration, the court clerk will mail or give you (if you appear in person to request Trial by Written Declaration) the forms (TR-200 & TR-205) which are necessary to prepare your response for the Trial by Declaration. In most cases, you will be given up to 4 weeks to prepare your response and file the trial by written declaration.
4. You must prepare a statement of facts as required by the Trial by Written Declaration forms, provided to you by the traffic court, and submit the completed form (TR-205) to the traffic court prior to the due date.
5. If your traffic ticket is not dismissed by the traffic court with the Trial by Written.
Declaration, you may contact the court and request a new trial (Trial De Novo) within 20 days of the date of the traffic court’s decision as indicated on the Notice of Decision. You must appear in traffic court on time and on the date given to you by the traffic court. The Trial De Novo will be an in-person court trial where you will be able to present your case to the traffic judge and the judge will also hear from the traffic officer. If your traffic ticket is still not dismissed you may ask the judge to allow you to attend traffic school. It would be up to the judge to accept your request to attend traffic school. In most cases, the judges will allow you to pay the traffic ticket fine and go to traffic school based on People v. Wozniak.
6. If the judge accepts your request to attend traffic school, then you should follow all the instructions given to you by the traffic court to complete traffic school. If you decide to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court you may do so, however, you may want to consult an attorney at this point.
Out of the 6 steps discussed above to file a trial by written declaration, even though all are important, step 4 is the most critical step that requires special attention to details and expertise in order for you to successfully get your traffic ticket dismissed.
If you prepare a compelling, clear and concise explanation of facts with adequate technical information with clear understanding of the California Vehicle Code then the chances of dismissal are quite high.
Remember everyday traffic ticket excuses DO NOT work.
There are also those who go to traffic court with the hope that the traffic officer may not show up to testify and that would get their traffic ticket dismissed. This may happen from time to time but it is not as common as people think. Most law enforcement agencies pay their officers over time to go to court. Therefore, traffic court testimony is not as much of a burden on the officers.
For your reference, we have listed the California vehicle code section 40902 which governs the Trial by Written Declaration for Traffic infraction cases:
40902 a 1 . The court , pursuant to this section, shall, by rule, provide that the defendant may elect to have a trial by written declaration upon any alleged infraction, as charged by the citing officer, involving a violation of this code or any local ordinance adopted pursuant to this code, other than an infraction cited pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 23152) of Chapter 12 of Division 11.
(2) The Judicial Council may adopt rules and forms governing trials by declaration in accordance with this section. Any rule or form adopted by the Judicial Council pursuant to this paragraph shall supersede any local rule of a court adopted pursuant to paragraph (1).
(b) If the defendant elects to have a trial by written declaration, the defendant shall, at the time of submitting that declaration, submit bail in the amount established in the uniform trafic penalty schedule pursuant to Section 40310. If the defendant is found not guilty or if the charges are otherwise dismissed, the amount of the bail shall be promptly refunded to the defendant.
(c) Notwithstanding Division 10 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Evidence Code, the rules governing trials by written declaration may provide for testimony and other relevant evidence to be introduced in the form of a notice to appear issued pursuant to Section 40500, a business record or receipt, a sworn declaration of the arresting officer, or a written statement or letter signed by the defendant.
(d) If the defendant is dissatisfied with a decision of the court in a proceeding pursuant to this section, the defendant shall be granted a trial de novo.