Here is an outsider’s update on how the Orange County Superior Court Traffic Division deals with Traffic Ticket Failure to Appear Cases.
Generally No Warrants Issued for Traffic Infractions After a Missed Court Date.
Orange County Superior Court will almost always issue a warrant for a missed court date on a misdemeanor criminal case, but not so with traffic ticket infractions. They will suspend your drivers license and add new charges.
If a Defendant misses a court date on a traffic ticket, California law allows a court to add a misdemeanor criminal charge to the case (Vehicle Code 40508(a)) and issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the Defendant. But the warrant is only one of several of the court’s options.
|The law also allows a court to impose a “Civil Assessment” and cause a suspension of the person’s drivers license instead.|
Another option for the court? Yes. The law also allows a court to choose to treat the failure to appear as a request for trial by declaration, and have a trial by declaration in absentia (without the Defendant present). Of course, the defendant always loses the trial in absentia.
When this happens, the court actually has a trial, and the defendant maybe told they lost their right to a trial. (See CA Vehicle Code 40903)
In Orange County Superior Court, they go the civil assessment / drivers license suspension route. But they do not have a trial in absentia. The defendant retains the right to a trial, and to challenge the civil assessment as a civil, not criminal penalty. The civil assessment is treated as a civil judgement in favor of the court.
Orange County Created Its Own “Collections Court” to Deal With Failure to Appear Traffic Ticket Cases.
Orange County Superior has taken the unique step of creating its own traffic ticket failure to appear division that they call “Collections Court”. Sure, the name may suggest some bias, but dont believe it. Defendants are presumed innocent even in “Collections Court”, …, we think.
The “Collections Court”, is only open 3 days a week.
“Effective July 1st, infractions with a Civil Assessment will only be heard at North Justice Center (excluding court trials) on Wednesdays, Thursdays and alternating Fridays.”
The Collections Court is located at:
North Justice Center 1275 North Berkeley Avenue Fullerton, CA 92832-1258 Tel: (877)872-2122.
Can an appear appear in Collections Court for a Defendant who stays home? Yes. Will the court release drivers license holds after a court appearance is made? Yes, sometimes. Not for all cases.
What if you moved?
The court does not care. Here is what they say on the subject:
“The Court is under no obligation to try to find your current address. You have an obligation to notify the court while the case is still open of any change of address. ”
Does the Court have a local Petition to Vacate Civil Assessment Form? No. At last check we could not find one. Check the court’s web site for local forms for updated info.
|More Info: Orange County Superior Court “Collections Court” Division web pages |
Questions? Leave a reply. This article only applies to Orange County CA. Other Courts have a different procedure for dealing with traffic ticket failure to appear cases.