What is a Vehicle Code 40508a violation? Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Charge.

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A violation of California Vehicle Code section 40508a is commonly known as a failure to appear, or FTA.

It shows up as a plain 40508a listing on DMV and court records, but confuses many people. Here is an explanation and info on how attorneys address the problem.

A 40508a violation is a misdemeanor charge that the court adds to a case when they think a person has missed a court date after signing a promise to appear. A Vehicle Code section 40508a violation usually also triggers the issuance of a bench warrant from the court. Often, it becomes the most expensive, and problematic part of a case.

How does it start?

When a person receives and signs a traffic of misdemeanor citation in California, they are generally signing a legal promise to appear in court on the date listed on the citation. Once the citation is signed, the person is required to show up in court on that day, unless they admit guilt and pay the fine for the citation in full prior to the date.

Vehicle section 40508a makes it a misdemeanor crime to break this promise. There is no requirement that the court send a person any notice of the court date if they have signed the citation, although some courts will send out courtesy notices. The only time the court is required to seend out a notice of a court date, is if they change it from the date on the citation.

If the date listed on the citation comes and goes, and the person cited does not show up in court, the court generally does three things:

1) add a new misdemeanor charge to the case titled a violation of Vehicle Code section 40508a;

2) they issue a court order to law enforcement stating that the defendant should be arrested and brought to court (this is known as a bench warrant or 40508a warrant); and

3) they place a hold on the defendants California driving privilege which DMV turns into a drivers license suspension (40509.5 hold). This hold may affect out of state drivers licenses.

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In the last few years, many courts have been moving away from issuing warrants on missed traffic court dates, but there is no consistency.  Some courts always issue warrants.  Some courts never issue warrants for traffic infractions.  Some courts issue bench warrants, but never send them to the sheriff’s office.

The one thing all courts do do – yes, Dodo, is use the 40508a misdemeanor charge a s a basis for their threats that you are going to jail. But what the court clerks behind bullet proof glass will not tell you is that they can actually ignore the law itself and treat a VC 40508a violation as an infraction, and thereby limit your right to challenge it and threaten you with jail at the same time.  Great trick, hun?

I once had a Judge explain to me how and why this happens.  He said:

“I can issue a warrant, they dont come in for years, and when they do, it costs us a lot of money.  I can suspend their drivers license, they come in within a few months, and it costs them a lot of money.”

Doesn’t make sense?  Dont worry about it. Keep on trucking.

If a traffic citation started as plain traffic infractions, but turns into a failure to appear case, the VC 40508a violation and warrant become the most important part of the problem. They change the case from a fine only problem, to one that may result in jail time and a misdemeanor criminal conviction. The 40508a statute (law) states that a person may be sentenced to 6 months in the county jail upon a conviction.

Jury Trial is Available for a Misdemeanor

The bench warrant that comes from a traffic court FTA is known as a VC 40508a warrant, because it was issued under authority of California Vehicle Code section 40508a. The new charge for the Failure to Appear is known as a VC 40508a violation.

However, everyone charged with a VC 40508a violation is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Persons charged with a 40508a misdemeanor also have the right to a jury trial.

There are only 2 ways to be convicted of the violation: 1) admitting guilt by pleading guilty, or no contest, or by losing a trial. Just because a person is charged with an FTA violation does not mean they are convicted.

Vehicle Code section 40508a always starts out as a misdemeanor, but can also be considered an “infraction” instead of a misdemeanor if the court so chooses. Infractions are less serious than a misdemeanor, and carry a fine as the only possible penalty.

Clearing Vehicle Code section 40508a Warrants

The warrant that comes with a 40508a violation exists only until the defendant appears in court. Once a court appearance is made, the warrant gets recalled. The violation may remain on the case, but the warrant goes away after a court appearance. The purpose of the warrant is to get a defendant into court to address the charges.

Because persons charged with a 40508a misdemeanor are entitled to a jury trial, the courts are often willing to reduce the charge to an infraction to encourage a guilty plea and avoid wasting court and law enforcement resources in a pointless trial. When this happens, the defendant avoids a misdemeanor conviction, and avoids the penalties that would come with such a violation.

Avoid the Classic FTA Mistakes

Many people in traffic court with 40508a violations make the classic mistake of pleading guilty to the 40508a misdemeanor without asking the court for a reduction to an infraction. This can be a costly mistake in terms of fines, and your criminal record.

An effective attorney handling failure to appear cases will use the threat of demanding a jury trial as leverage to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the 40508a charge. Typically, it works because the court does not want to waste time on such a minor (in the courts eyes) offense. Because of an attorney’s ability to conduct a well prepared and time consuming jury trial, the courts are usually somewhat flexible.

Defenses to 40508a Violations

Defense to a 40508a charge that should result in a complete dismissal are: 1) the court changed the date listed on the citation and defendant did not sign a new promise to appear; 2) defendant appeared at the clerks office on the date listed on the citation, but the court did not have the case ready for a court appearance; and 3) the defendant was on active duty with the military and was not able to attend.

Don’t confuse excuses with legal defenses. Excuses do not work, and may dissuade the court from reducing the misdemeanor to an infraction. Excuses that are never effective defenses (but often tried) include: 1) defendant was homeless; 2) defendant had family problems (such as kids, or family illness); 3) the court did not send a courtesy notice; and 4) defendant was out of town for work.

Misdemeanors Require Defendants Consent for a Commissioner

Many traffic courts use Commissioners instead of judges to hear traffic court cases. Commissioners are really just employees of the court, and are not fully trained and appointed or elected judges. The law states that a person charged with a misdemeanor must consent to the use of a Commissioner on their case.

This fact can work to a defendants advantage when charged with a 40508a violation, because the defendant can refuse to allow a commissioner hear the case, and demand a real judge. Most real judges in Superior Court are handling the more serious felonies, and just want to end the minor cases as fast as possible. When a felony judge is presented with a traffic infraction case that includes a 40508a misdemeanor, they may offer a dismissal just to get rid of the case. And a Commissioner may offer a reduction to an infraction just to avoid sending it to a busy felony judge.

Penal code section 977 allows an attorney to appear in court for a defendant on 40508a cases, even if there is a warrant. Because of this, an attorney can do this work for a client, and the client can avoid court.

If an attorney is successful in getting a misdemeanor reduced to an infraction, and gets a warrant recalled without the client having to miss work and appear in court, the attorney has done the client a great service. This is why having an attorneys help on a 40508a case often makes sense.

Whats the moral of this story? Don’t just blindly plead guilty to a 40508a violation. Work on getting it reduced or dismissed, and consider using an attorney to do the work. It may be very cost effective.

A similar Failure to appear statute is Penal Code section 853.7, which is the statute that applies for an FTA on some non traffic violations, such as domestic battery, petty theft (such as Penal Code section 488) or assault.

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About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
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62 Responses to What is a Vehicle Code 40508a violation? Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Charge.

  1. Al says:


    I previously submitted a question with my full name. I’ve also gotten answers regarding my situation. Can you disregard my question and not publish?

    Thank you.

  2. Lisa Marie Viera says:

    I have received notice from DMV that my license has been suspended for CA sections
    4000A1VC, 40508AVC and 405095VC.

    I had a vehicle that I was unable to pay for the vehicle registration fees due to unemployment. I was pulled over by a LA Cnty Sheriff and my car was impounded, since I did not have to the funds to pay for the impound fees plus CA DMV fees, I surrendered the vehicle to the tow company. I had a scheduled court date in July and due to moving and the time between the ticket ( Sept 2012) and the scheduled court date of July 13, I had completely forgotten about the court date. I had figured that the DMV registartion issue was no longer an issue since I had signed over my vehicle to the tow company who sold my vehicle at auction.

    Now, I have the 40508 and 40509 plus the orginial issue to deal with. In addition, I am in the process of taking my NCLEX exam and cannot have any criminal issues and need to have a clear DMV record.

    I have limited funds and need help with this issue.

    Thank you,

    Lisa Viera

    • Lisa,

      Great comment. This happens a lot.

      Sadly, no, your registration violation traffic ticket (Vehicle Code section 40508a) does not automagically disappear when the government takes your car and gives it to a tow company.

      Sounds like you are 100% guilty. You admit to driving the car with expired registration. You admit that you did not deal with the ticket or go to court by the deadline (on the citation, next to your signature).


      But there is a bright side. This problem can be solved fast if you know what is going on. Your goals should probably be: 0) dont get arrested for driving on a suspended drivers license; 1) avoid a misdemeanor conviction for the failure to appear charge if possible (Vehicle Code 40508a); 2) get the drivers license hold released by the court as soon as possible; 3) deal with the original violation in whatever way possible.

      How to accomplish these goals? The best way is to send an attorney to court for you right away to see if he/she can get the case back on the court’s calendar. I recommend that you get a free attorney case review from our local LA County Sponsor Attorney, Mark Gallagher (Attorneygallagher(at)gmail.com) he is very good with these cases. He might be able to solve this case in a couple of days, and get you time to pay any fines you cannot avoid.

      You might be able to just pay the court in full the max value of whatever they claim and end the case. But that is not the best option in many counties, including this one.

      Bad news – the record of a drivers license suspension (40509.5 hold) will remain on your driver history report for 10 years. There is nothing you can do about that, even after your drivers license is reinstated.

      Contact mark today. That’s my best recommendation for the day.

      Dont forget to go to DMV in person after the court releases the drivers license hold.

  3. andres says:

    I just went to renew my licence and found out I cant because that I have a 24252A VC and a 40508A VC from back in 2010

    I went through my records and I see that the check i sent for the 24252A VC (headlight) infraction never got cashed.

    I have 2 options, paying the wooping $1004 on a third party collection agency


    going to court until November 1st

    My question is,
    Since all I have to the courts eyes is an excuse, do you think I still have a case to plea to at least lower that insane amount?
    My only defense is that i did get it fixed, I did mail a check with the ticket signed by CA State patrol, but since they never received it I am basically at fault.

    • Andres,

      I see this problem all the time. Most of the time, there is one of 2 explanations: 1) Defendant missed the deadline to provide proof of correction and pay the dismissal fee; or 2) the check bounced.

      For this reason, for the last ten years I have been telling people this: Dont try to take care of a correctable violation by mail, it will not work. Dont pay fines with a personal check, it will not work. If you do not have proof you paid on time, you did not pay.

      The best way to resolve a correctable violation? In person at the courthouse.

      If you have to mail it – get a tracking number, proof of delivery, and pay by cashier’s check or US Postal Service Money Order. Keep copies of everything, forever, in an EMP protected, fire proof box.

      But that info does not help you, does it?

      Every county deals with these cases different. In some counties, you may be able to get a walk in, in person arraignment and once there, talk the judge into accepting your proof of correction late. I’ve done it my self hundreds of times for clients.

      In other counties, they will tell you that your right to a trial disappeared.

      In other counties, they will tell you they sold your account to a collection agency an you are only allowed to talk to those for profit employees who have zero court training.

      In other counties, such as Orange County, they have a separate “Collections Court” three days a week where they adjudicate challenges to failure to appear civil assessments in live court hearings per Penal Code 1214.1(d). Other counties, such as Sacramento, will tell you that you can only challenge a failure to appear case on paper by using a local required petition form, and that only the judge who imposed civil assessment can take action on the civil assessment, but that any judge can hear a trial on the underlying charges. Other counties, such as Contra Costa, will post signs all over the courthouse saying that the Commissioners and Judges have no legal authority to hear a challenge to a failure to appear civil assessment case (thereby ignoring Penal Code section 1385 and Penal Code 1214.1(d).)

      Strange hun? Why? No one knows. It’s just life. Cest la vie. Carpe Diem.

      How do you know what is going on with civil assessment cases in your county? 1) hire an attorney who was just there this morning; or 2) stop talking to the collection agency and go to the courthouse yourself in person right now.

      One last thing:

      DO NOT TRUST ANYTHING A COLLECTION AGENCY TELLS YOU ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS IN COURT. DO NOT RESOLVE A FAILURE TO APPEAR CITATION OVER THE PHONE WITH A COLLECTION AGENCY. It will not work the way you want it to in my opinion. Go to the courthouse in person, trust only what the court clerk tells you about your case and rights to a trial.

  4. Jessica says:

    I received a notice to suspend in the mail from DMV for 40508A-VC I thought that I had paid this fine and have the check from my bank to prove it. I am a criminal justice student and can not afford to have something as petty as this come up on my record. How should I go about handling this without it being on my record? Also on my notice it does not say the amount I need to pay, how do I find this out and where do I start? Thanks in advance.

  5. Chelsea V says:

    I have sort of a complicated situation, but really need some help/advice.
    Back in August 2010 (when i was 19) I got a ‘fix it’ ticket in LA for my registration. What the police werent getting was that my mom had already paid the registration, it just didnt come up in their system. So they gave a court date, which I didnt appear at thinking I just had to show my proof of registration for the police mistake not mine. So they slapped me with a FTA for about 900-something. At the time, I was unemployed and in college so I did not have the means to pay for such a fine. I got scheduled another court date for the FTA and fix-it ticket extension, which did not happen until February 2012 (long time). At the court I pleaded no contest thinking I could not really fight the FTA and obviously showed proof of the registration being paid. The judge reduced my fine to 4-500 and to pay it by May 2012. I became employed in April 2012 but an unfortunate event led me to leave the company I was working for in August. Because I could not pay in May, they raised the price to 750 which it has remained. It is now 2013 and I’m a full-time college student living at home with no income (until i get another job). Once turned over to the collection agency is it out of the courts hands to give me community service? Or who can I talk to about my situation? I’m lost in the system and I made that mistake of not trying to lower the infraction. Any comments or advice will be greatly appreciated!

    • Chelsea,

      That is not a complicated situation. It’s very simple actually:

      Your case is over. You have been sentenced. The case is over. You have to pay, you have no choice. There is no community service option. Your case is over.

      Your drivers license is also almost certainly suspended as a result of this. Do not drive at all until you contact DMV in person and verify the status of your drivers license as of today.

  6. Curtis says:

    I was pulled over a few months back because my tags were expired. I was issued a “fix it” ticket because I was still waiting for my new registration tags to come in the mail. I went to a local CHP office to have the ticket signed off with proof of registration and then mailed in the signed off ticket to the court thinking I didn’t have to appear in court. However, I got a notice in the mail requesting bail of about $900. Apparently the court never got my mailed in ticket.

    I did make a photo copy however and scheduled an arraignment hearing.

    Then a few days ago i got a notice saying my drivers license is being suspended in January but my arraignment isn’t scheduled until May. Violations are 40000A1VC, 405095VC, 40508AVC.

    This is insane. What can I do…I still have the photo copy of the signed off ticket. Will this matter?

  7. Steve says:

    I have both 40508A and a 40509.5. The former is for an FTA I forgot about and now I am trying to renew my drivers license soI’m having to attend to these issues.

    I just paid for the 40509.5 online. I am waiting for the confirmation as I write this note.

    My question is, it looks like the 40509.5 hold is in relation to the FTA 40508A. After my payment clears, what is my next step? Do I have to go into court? I’m confused….please advise.


    • Steve,

      These are good questions. A Vehicle Code 40508(a) violation is a failure to appear. The statute says it is a misdemeanor crime.

      A Vehicle Code section 40509.5 Hold is a drivers license hold produced by a VC 40508a violation.

      Once you resolve the case with the court will notify Department of Motor Vehicles that the 40509.5 hold should be released. Once that happens, you need to go to DMV to pay a reissuance fee to reinstate a suspended drivers license.

      When that happens depends on who you paid. Did you go to court in person and pay the court directly? No? Who did you pay then? Some for profit private collection agency with cubicle offices in another state? Well .. . . you might be at their mercy. You have to keep cecking with the court to see when the case gets cleared in the court’s records. Once that Happens, you need to contact DMV to see if the VC40509.5 hold was actually released (if you go to court this happens right away). If DMV tells you that the 40509.5 hold was never released, you need to take your proof of payment to the court in person and demand that they notify DMV to release that hold.

      And this is why it is a bad idea to try to pay a collection agency for an old traffic citation over the phone or web. You are at their mercy.

      It’s always better to go to the court in person and take care of the case at the courthouse in person.

  8. Armando says:

    I got a ticket in January of this year, for no insurance & registration. I had a court date on March 2nd, but failed to appear. My license was then put on hold. I purchased an abstract @ court & set up a new court date for July 3rd. I missed the 2nd court date because I was out of town, a family death. I received a letter in August that my licensed would be suspended as of September 14, 2012. I have a fine amount of $1, 871. I set up a court date for December 21st, but I’m trying to see if the court can grant my license a lift, @ least until the court date. I called the DMV, but they said to call the court. I can’t contact a judge until Dec. 21st tho. Sections violated 16028AVC 400A1VC & 40508AVC 405095VC.

    Los Angeles Superior Court
    150 W. Commonwealth Ave.
    Alhambra, CA
    (626) 308-5531

    If you can help or know any1 that can, that would be great. Thanks in advance for @ least trying.

    • Armando,

      I would recommend that you get a review and quote from our local LA County sponsor attorney, Mark Gallagher. He is very good with these cases. He can be reached at AttorneyGallagher(at)gmail.com. Send him an email.

  9. brad w says:

    I have read your blog and am interested in hearing your opinion of a situation I am in. I received a citation for driving with a suspended license on 2-7-08 in LA county. The court I was required to attend was the LA Superior Courthouse on Hill st. I moved to San Francisco shortly after and did not attend my court date. Long story short I now have a FTA and have set a date to attend. The question I have is should I be concerned with any jail time without the use of an attorney? I am willing to admit it was entirely my fault and can pay the fines required on the spot. I would like to hear back about your opinion. Thanks you for your time.

    • Brad,

      Driving on a suspended drivers license (vehicle code 14601.1) is a misdemeanor crime with a max sentence of 6 mos in county jail (and fine of $1500 + 2 points on your driver history report).

      Failing to appear for arraignment on a misdemeanor case is a misdemeanor crime also – 6 mo – 1 yr max county jail.

      Usually when a person misses the arraignment on a misdemeanor charge, the court will issue a bench warrant and set bail for the warrant. Usually, with 14601.1 cases, they will also suspend your drivers license (by notifying the DMV of the FTA under Vehicle Code 40509.5).

      Even though the law says that a VC14601.1 is a misdemeanor crime, some courts treat it as an infraction so that they can prevent you from having access to a jury trial and a public defender to save money.

      I cannot tell waht is going on with your case. My advice? Get to . . . . . .lets see do I have the address of that courthouse memorized? 1145 Hill St.? LA Metro Courthouse – not the one on S. Hill Street (I always get those two mixed up). Anyway, the point is get to court in person right now. If you cannot go right now in person, hire an attorney to go to court for you and take care of it.

  10. Alberto says:


    I received a ticket for tint on my front windows back in 2009 when I moved from NV to CA (still had NV plates on the car even). I had the tint removed, ticket signed off and mailed in the proof with my $25 check. It’s now time to renew my license and my drivers license is showing I’ve been driving with a suspeneded license for the last 3 years. My violations are 26708A for tint, 40508A and 405095, I’m guessing for the FTA . I went back to my bank account around the time of the citation and went 6 months out and cannot find a check cashed for $25. So it looks like the ticket and check were never received by the court or never processed. I’ve never had an issue like this before and I don’t know what to do?

    • DortLaw says:


      I am sorry this happened to you. It is a common problem. I see it a lot. And this is why I frequently tell people:

      1) Do no pay a fine by mail – pay in person – get proof you paid;
      2) Do not pay a fine by personal check. Pay by money order or cashier’s check, get proof you paid;
      and, then, finally, refer to rule #1 – which is:

      3) If you do not have proof you paid, you did not pay.

      My recommendation is this: Go to the courthouse where the case is pending in person today at 1 pm. Ask for a walk in appearance (for in person arraignment) on the 1:30 calendar.

      Or hire an attorney to go and do that work for you.

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

      Free Attorney Case Review

      • Alberto says:

        Thank you for the information. For future reference, I will always do everything in person and get proof. I know in the courts eye I did not pay and failed to appear, would I just tell the court what happened? Will they possibly remove the FTA from my record or can I ask them to possibly reduce the FTA to an infraction so that I can reinstate and renew my license? I’m totally lost and don’t want to cause more problems for myself if I say the wrong thing. Will the judge generally reduce the financial penalty given I’ve never had any prior incidents? Also, is the 40508A a misdemeanor? I work in the financial/banking sector and don’t want this to effect my future career opportunties? This is for the Pomona courthouse, Los Angeles County.

  11. Mando Loza says:

    I received a notice regarding the suspension of my DL. The violations were 40508AVC and 405095VC. Do you have any idea how much these fines are? Can i get an extension for payment or negotiate payment if it has been sent to GC services?

  12. Daniel says:

    I was issued an MTA fare evasion ticket. About $250. I missed my court date and was issued a bench warrant, which made what I owe a total of $560. I’m due in court again soon, and I’m afraid I will get arrested when I arrive or if I don’t have enough money to pay what is owed. Will I get arrested? Can I request a payment schedule and not be arrested?

    • Daniel,

      Any time you have a pending warrant for a failure to appear in court, there is a possibility of sudden jail time.

      But if you go in person to court at 8 am and ask for a walk in court appearance, if your bail is really only $560, it is unlikely they will arrest you. In LA county that is. And I am guessing that is where you are, because that is where MTA is. Or at least that is where they were last time I sued them. Or did I defend them? Im not sure.

  13. Aimee says:

    Got a Red Light ticket 07/2011 in Pasadena. $480 was meant to be paid in september. Requested to see a judge about the ticket, gave me a date for december. Friend told me that you don’t have to pay red light tickets in LA County and that I should ignore it. Now I have a FTA, a collection agency hunting me down for nearly $1200 and the dmv telling me they’ll suspend my license if I don’t cough up. What the hell do I do now?

    • Aimee,

      I hope that wasnt your smartest friend. If you set a court date and did not go – that was dumbb. You probably had a trial set and you skipped your trial.

      If you were talking about a red light photo violation where you never appeared in court and never set a court date, I would say read our articles on the subject: http://trafficcourtpros.com/blog/?p=3989, but if you missed your trial, you blew it.

      Your friend was probably talking about ignoring red light photo tickets from the very beginning. Once you appear in court or set a court date, you consent to the court’s personal jurisdiction, you provide proof that you have notice of the violation, and you give the court the power to jack you up if you skip your trial using Vehicle code 40508a and vc 40509.5, which you should read and memorize for future use.

      • Aimee says:

        yeah. figured I was screwed. should I even contact one of these “ticket clinic” types… I mean, is there any possibility of getting the ridiculously huge fine reduced?

  14. Jacxon L. Ryan says:

    Hello, I have a FTA 40508a under my name and suspending my drivers license.
    It’s ‘apparently’ from October 2006. OK, here is my problem.
    1. I was never advised or ticketed for ANYTHING during that time.
    2. How was I able to have a drivers license issued in JULY 2007 if this happened in October 06?
    3. Within the past 3 months, How was I able to go through the court system and do a complete name change without this coming up? I know the U.S has communication issues with different countries but I would like to believe the court system in Burbank has communication with the court system in Los Angeles when someone is performing a name change. The first thing out of the judges mouth was “You have no criminal record or warrents”….
    4. I have applied for a passport, an extensive background check for a new job, a new house and a security clearance for my new job.

    So I’m a little confused as to how I have went through all these background checks most of which are through the court system with nothing coming up. Except with the DMV who won’t issue me a new license because of the WLA court house (which by the way I do NO business on that side of town…except going to the VA every now and then. )

    I am so lost with this situation I don’t know what to do…

    Jacxon Ryan

    • Jacxon,

      Well, you did not mention what court it is in, or what the original charge was.

      Here is what you need to do: You need to go to the courthouse tomorrow at 8am get a walk in court appearance for an “Arraignment” (or set a date for an Arraignment), plead not guilty and figure out what kind of case it is.

      If the original charging document is a citation, ask to see it and see if that is your signature at the bottom. If it is not your signature, you might be the victim of identity theft and should demand a trial.

      If the charging document is a “Complaint” filed by the District Attorney or City Attorney, then you are entitled to a copy of it. Get a copy, read it very carefully, decide what to do next after that.

      OR . . . . OR . . . . Hire a licensed attorney to do all of that work for you.

      OK, now I will break down each numbered point to see if there is any more useful info in my head I can pass out:

      1) Sounds like you did not have actual notice of a case against you. If that is true, you have a complete defense to a Veh Code 40508(a) allegation, because there is no “Signed promise to Appear”, which is a “Required Element” for a conviction of that offense. (Reminder to self: Write that Article on How to Attack Required Elements of a Charge).

      2) I have no idea on what date your VC 40509.5 hold was sent from the court to the DMV. If you want that information, you can get it from your driver history report or from the DMV Driver Safety Office.

      3) Every court has independent divisions that do not talk to each other. There is the Civil Division, which deals with money problems. Then there is the family division that deals with relationships between people (and names, I think). I never go to the famly division, and I do not know anything about it at all. I dont even know how to spell the place. Then there is the Criminal Division, which is where misdemeanor and felony cases are heard. Finally, there is the Traffic Division, which hears infractions, and in some counties, hears some misdemeanors like VC 40508, VC 140601.1, and VC 12500(a), but never 23152 (DUI), which is a real crime.

      The other divisions of the court do not like the traffic division. In fact, they treat it like a bastard child they have locked in the basement. They feed it, but they do not talk to it or teach it anything.

      4) Passports have nothing to do with court cases. But, a court can take your passport away.

      Security clearances and background checks are sometimes limited to looking for “Convictions”. This problem sounds like a “pending case”, not a case that has ended and produced a “conviction”.

      And remember, in Amerika (the place where we pepper spray, beat and injure sitting university students), you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. So even if you have a pending criminal case, if it is pending, you are not a criminal, yet.

      OK, thats it. Law Office closed until further notice. Happy thanks giving.

  15. Diane says:

    Received a “seat belt ticket” in West Los Angeles 11/04/10. Tried to pay it on-line but it was never entered into the system. Went to the W LA courthouse the week prior to my court date to pay the ticket and was told it was not in the system and that there was a problem with the ticket and they needed to send it back to get a new court date. The court employee said the problem was the date on the ticket was February 13, 2011 a Sunday. She made a copy of my ticket for her purposes and stapled a 4 1/4″ x 2 3/4″ piece of paper with the Los Angeles Superior Court website and traffic telephone line to my ticket and returned it to me. I asked the employee if I should return to court the following week and was told it would do me no good because the court is closed on Sunday the date on my ticket. She told me a new court date would be sent to me but that I should also continue to check every week. I continued to check on it every week for a couple of months and then I forgot about it (not that it matters but I work 6 to 7 days every week).

    Last week I received a notice from the court that a hold was placed on my license as a result of my “failure to appear”. I called the number on the notice and was told a notice had been sent to me August 15, 2011 (told it was sent it to my current residence of 15 years but I did not receive it). I asked for an arraignment date. I then went to the W LA courthouse and had the hold removed.

    I would feel good about my chances on the 40508a, because I did go to the designated court house on or before the date on the ticket to take care of the ticket. But these are my concerns: (1) Turns out the date on the ticket was February 18, 2011 a Friday and not February 13, 2011 a Sunday (the date on my ticket, which I still have, is so faint that it does look like the date is 13th). (2) I was not given a “Proof of Appearance document”. Had I know about this document I would have asked for this, but was unaware it even exist. (3) The only proof I have is a little piece of paper that was stapled to my ticket and maybe film from the court security cameras, but with out audio I am not sure what good that would do me. I do have a print out from the lasuperiorcourt.org website dated February 23, 2011 which indicates “the citation record could not be found”.

    My arraignment will be in WLA in front of a commissioner. I was going to plead no contest to the original infraction and not guilty to the 40508a and ask for a trial by jury. What are my chances due to my fubar circumstances and not having the “Proof of Appearance doc”? Can I get hold of the security camera footage during discovery? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Diane,

      I would love to answer your questions, but it is way, way, way, way way too long. Please remove all of the useless crap I dont need to know and resubmit.

      • Diane says:

        40508a on a seat belt ticket West LA. Ticket issued 11/04/10 was not put in the system.

        02/10/11 went to W LA courthouse to pay ticket. Still not in system Ct employee said ct date was in error and prevented her from getting it into system (02/13/11 a Sunday). Was not permited to pay on that day. Did not get proof of appearance doc.

        Check ticket on-line for months, then forgot (never question of money – wanted to pay).

        On 11/01/11 1214.1 assessment notice received for FTA and hold placed on license. Contacted ct within ten days of notice. Obtained arraignment date, got the hold taken off my license. Found out orginal court date was 02/18/11 a Friday and not Sunday as ct employee orginally thought (ticket date is extremely faint and does look like a 13).

        My concern is lack of evidence. I have print out showing not in system on 02/23/11. Do not have proof of appearance. Unless I can get video and audio from WLA ct house during discovery how do I prove my case?

        • Diane,

          Good question. You tried to go, but they charged you with a failure to appear anyway. Happens all the time.

          Just show up on time for your arraignment, and it will work out fine. If you already got the drivers license hold released, no problem. If you want more time, go to the arraignment and ask for time to look for an attorney. You can ask for time to pay any fines. Tell the judge you showed up, made a good faith effort. If they give you a hard time, demand a jury trial and a Public Defender. Screw them.

          WLA Court is horrible. Remember, on the West side of the 405. Tiny road, small sign hanging over the middle of the street says “Purdue”. Tiny parking lot. Bring cash. Great mexican food down the block. Show up early.

          The final order they give you is going to be handwritten on carbon paper. Do not leave the court unless you can read the fine total, and deadline.

          They will probably dismiss the FTA once you show up. Ask for it. You did the right thing. It will work out fine. Ask for dismissal of the 40508a charge, or demand a jury trial. Got it? Screw them. Did I say that yet?

  16. mike says:

    I received a traffic violation while on my bicycle in Los Angeles County a violation of vehicle code 21453(a) – Failure to stop at a red light and my court date was on August 24. Before my court date, I tried to find the violation online, but it was not in the system. I went to court on my appointed date and when the clerk tried to search for my citation, it still wasn’t in the system, so she gave me a Proof of Appearance document which has the date, her signature, a stamp, and a comment saying “Citation not in computer.”
    I’ve checked each week for the citation and finally on September 28 I see it in the system, but at that time, I did not have the money to pay it (~$500). I was getting my paycheck in a few days, so I just closed the browser window without selecting an action. That night, I received a courtesy notice in the mail, also dated September 28 with the original court date (Aug 22).
    A few days later, on Oct. 2, after I get my paycheck, I go back online to pay the citation and now it says I have a Failure to Appear and my options are to pay close to $900 or to schedule an arraignment…so I scheduled an arraignment, which will take place in January, 2012.
    It seems as if I should have a good case to get my FTA dismissed as I have the documentation from the courthouse that I did appear.
    But my question is, is there anything else I should be doing? Should I consider getting a lawyer or can this be fought myself? I’m not really challenging the original citation, although it would be nice to be reduced, since I was on my bicycle early on a Saturday morning and I am a student living month-to-month…

    • Mike,

      OK. Good question. Way too many words. I am going to help you focus this into something you can actually use to solve the problem. Dont take this personally. You suffer from the same disease as everyone else – lackof focusosis

      1. No one cares whether or not you had the money to pay. It does not matter. Forget about that part of the story;
      2. No one cares when your paycheck was supposed to come. It does not matter, forget about that part of the story;
      3. No one cares that you just closed your browser instead of doing the right thing. Forget about that part of the story, it does not matter;
      4. No one cares that you were riding your bicycle on a Saturday. Forget about that part of the story. It will not help you;
      5. No one cares that you are a student living month to month. Forget about that part of the story. It will not help you, it does not matter.

      OK. Once we take all that crap out of the story, we can work on the problem.

      Sounds like you may have a complete defense to the failure to appear charge. You did everything right.

      A Violation of Vehicle Code section 40508(a) in California is a misdemeanor crime as a matter of law. (read the statute). With all misdemeanor crimes, you have a right to a jury trial. And the right to a public defender if you do not have a job or access to the resources to hire a private attorney. You have the power to waste a tremendous amount of government time, money and court resources.

      Does the court want your $300 or do they want to get you out of there ASAP?

      What really happened here is they moved your arraignment date on you and did not give you adequate notice. What may have also happened is that when you went you just ran into a court clerk who did not understand how to find the case. That happens a lot. Has happened to me many times.

      So now you have an arraignment scheduled. Great. no problem. case is on track. Make sure you go.

      Once there, you can tell the judge:

      I wish to plead no contest to the original infraction. But I plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of failure to appear, as I have a complete defense. I have written proof from the court clerk that I was in this court on the date the court claims I was not here. Therefore I want a jury trial on that charge.

      And if it were me, and you were paying me by the hour, I might say something like:

      I want 12 jurors in here and witnesses from the government to prove up this charge or a finding from the court of factual innocence.

      Bottom line, the charges can be split up. It’s called bifurcation. Or the judge can just take a not guilty plead to all charges and let it sort out in the trial. Doesnt matter much.
      But what is likely to happen is that the judge will just have a look at your proof at the arraignment, and dismiss the FTA charge there. That is what you want.

      Dont waste time tell the judge about all the dates, notices, browser crap – just say “I have a complete defense. I have written proof from the court clerk I was here on time. I complied with the only enforceable written promise to appear. I have a complete defense. I want a jury trial or dismissal.”

      If you hire a private Defense Attorney like Attorney Mark Gallagher (our local LA Sponsor attorney attorneygallagher(at)gmail.com) it is probably a 1 or 2 court appearance thing. You would not have to go at all. And in a place like Los Angeles Courthouses – that is some very valuable crap that will help you live your life in peace.

      You can do it yourself

  17. Katie says:

    I am getting quotes for insurance and when I paid and viewed my driving history – I see that my last 2 tickets which were for not wearing a seatbelt have 40508A VC at the end. I know that I signed the ticket when I received it saying I would appear but my understanding was you either appeared in court or paid the ticket so I paid the ticket. I received these tickets in 2009 and renewed my license in 2010 with no issues.

    I don’t understand why I have the 40508A VC if I paid the ticket and what I should do from here..


    • Katie – my advice is: Dont trust anything DMV tells you about a court case. Contact the court directly for information on cases.


      Remember the DMV report is a history. If a failure to appear happened, it is going to show up on the history report even if the case is over.

  18. Megan says:

    I got a ticket in Siskiyou county in October and never paid the ticket… I thought I did but the check I wrote never cleared and I got a letter saying I had failed to appear and now I owe $751. I know it’s a common complaint that you hear over and over again, but I don’t have $751! I’m a laid-off teacher! I have to renew my driver’s license and now I’m afraid they’re going to arrest me or something if I go in to renew it. Will they? What is the best way to get out of all of this? I was pulled over for speeding but the officer just gave me a ticket for having the wrong address on my license, so it only would have been $25 originally.

  19. sean says:

    chris, i just stumbled onto your website/blog/log…..
    fascinating. esp your comments on the inner workings of various CA courts.

    i think you’ve got a gem in the rough. Let me explain:

    you could publish some of these ‘encounters’ in a book/booklet form and sell them. honestly, we all get traffic violations from time to time and most of us are unprepared to play it out on the stage in the courtroom. we are just so totally ignorant of the workings of the law and suffer anxiety and so on. the dmv drivers handbooks are a joke as are the written tests. they are ‘extracts’ from the vehicle code and give a diluted version of the laws.

    Something along the lines of a book, maybe selling for just under $10 would help so many of us. and make you some extra bucks.

    Also, i don’t know if you’re familiar with KGO Radio 810 AM, out of San Francisco. it’s a newstalk station. they have a lawyer show, Len Tillem (spelling? sorry len) with a 1 hour weekday show. I think they could use someone with your knowledge and experience. I don’t know how many drivers exist in CA, I’d guess 20 Million plus – and how many of us get tickets – deserved or not. It would be a great service to SF Bay Area drivers. I’d suggest a one hour show on weekends (sat and sun) – you could have a legal beagle clerk type working behind the scences looking up details as necessary.

    http://www.kgoradio.com is the website, you can listen to their podcasts. you can listen live on the internet. let me know if i can assist in any way… i’ve talked w/John Rothmann, sincere and knowledgablve, politics, history, American Presidents and Vice-Preezs –

    plus, i think i heard that the station has or soon will be bought by ABC, ?? if that means anything.

    also, i’m sure you’re familiar w/ NOLO Press, Berkeley, i’d think that if you got say $2 per book, and sold 1 million, why you’d be able to buy a nice fixer-uppper. haha (sense of humor). alternatively, traffic court for dummies –

    my personal gripe: In and About vehicle while intoxicated. No, i’ve never gotten hit with this one but i really think it counter productive. If ones is too tired to drive, there’s nothing wrong with pulling over and taking a nap, in fact this is recommended. you gotta get off a freeway, and out of way of traffic. Should be the same for drunk drivers. as long as they haven’t put car in gear and moved it. counterproductive in that a drunk will rationalize it as equal outcomes and drive home. that’s the danger. they could hurt someone, many even themselve. This law should be changed – it would safe life and limb. starting the engine? sure, if you’re up in cold country, like truckee, you’d need the heater, sure the person should know to crack a window, altho, most newer cars have better exhaust – so as to protect someone from killing themselves by breathing the exhaust. but this number would be minimal, just enough to satisfy some kinda darwinian imperitive.

    so other driver might have useful suggestions. you could really help drivers, and make a few extra bucks on the side.

    good luck, good hunting.

    • Sean. Thanks for the great comment. I like your ideas. I think I would have a great time answering questions for free on the radio. I need to stop going to court. At one point in my life, I wanted to appear in every single California County Superior Court. I’ve gotten pretty close – there are only a couple I’ve missed like Modoc. But now, I get extreme headaches in the middle of the night before even a simple court appearance. These court clerks have given me PTSD!

  20. Andrew says:

    I currently have a minimus/bench warrant for a traffic ticket i failed to appear for in waterloo Iowa. I was driving without a license from school when they arrested me, then later released but they took my I.D. per expiration. So now i have found myself in a difficult spot. I need to get a new ID but there is a bench warrant for my traffic ticket. If i go into the DMV here in waterloo Iowa, will they have me arrested or deny my ID? or will they allow me to get my ID? I have looked around and researched somewhat and have not yet come to a conclusion. So far I’ve been getting by with my student ID but there is only so much you can do without an ID card as a college student. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank You
    Further, I don’t need a license just an ID, because i already know with outstanding fines you cannot get your license. Just REALLY want my ID!! Thank You



    Dear Chris,

    Can you help me with your counsel? I got a ticket for violation 216555 for driving in a car pool lane in California ( Hayward area) – I was not aware of car pool lanes since there are none in Illinois where I live. As soon as I realized that I am in a car pool lane, I tried to move over but you know CA traffic! Anyhow, I called the circuit clerk on coming back and on their advice faxed them my appeal explaining that I was unfamiliar with the concept of car pool lanes. I did not hear back for several months and now suddenly I have a letter telling me that my drivers license will be suspended on December 12th. When I log into the court’s website- it shows a fine of $1050 against the original citation. That is a huge amount!



    • Archana, this is actually a common problem. Your problem is actually in Alameda County Superior Court, Traffic Division, probably the Hayward Courthouse. We do not have circuit courts in CA – they are called Superior Courts. Unfortunately, not being familiar with the car pool lane laws is not a legitimate defense. If you drive in CA, you have to know CA rules of the road. That is what the law says – there is no exception for visitors.

      You cannot fight a traffic citation in court by faxing anything to the court clerk. It will not ever work (legalease for “Never”). A citation is actually a “Promise to Appear in Court”. When you sign a ticket in CA, you are promising to appear in court by the date next to your signature, or (if possible) give up, admit guilt, and pay what the court tells you to pay (if they send you anything).

      You should be able to have a trial via a Skype Conference if this were a perfect world, but these courts dont let you do anything by email, fax or electronic transfer (unlike the more sophisticated Federal Courts – or Ventura County Superior which is the most efficient and well organized court in the state by far)

      If you want to fight a citation because you think you have a legitimate defense, you have to either: 1) file a request for trial by declaration (see blog article on it); or 2) show up in person at court before the date on the citation and ask for a trial. Then, you have to have the trial.

      If you did not show up in court by the deadline on the citation, you do not have a defense to the failure to appear charge that was added to the case (unless you were dead at the time). Once the failure to appear charge is added to the case, the court will also notify the CA Department of Motor Vehicles, who then suspends your driving privilege in CA, and will notify any other state you have a license in of the suspension. (This is called a Vehicle Code section 40509.5 hold).

      So judging from what I see here, I would say that you have no defense.

      But – when you get to the point of a $1000+ problem, it may make sense to hire an attorney to try to get something done. The bad news is that from an attorney’s point of view, Alameda County is a horrible place to work. Long lines, unhappy clerks inventing fake obstacles, temporary judges that have no idea what they are doing, difficult parking, and horrible traffic at 8am when they make you go, all add up to make working there difficult (and expensive).

      But – (this is a double butted answer) – if I were working on the case, I would go to the court clerks office tomorrow and 1) Demand an arraignment; 2) request that the drivers license hold be released pending the arraignment (in LA they do this correctly and efficiently – in Alameda you never know what trouble you are going to get); 3) once in court, try to negotiate a dismissal of the failure to appear charge; and 4) request traffic school to avoid points on your driving record if possible.

      For that court, I would charge in the range of $600, flat fee, to do the work. The bad news is that if you have no real defense – there is no way I could promise it would work out well for you on this type of case in this court. If it were LA or Ventura, I could tell you in advance exactly what I would expect to get as a resolution. Oh I wish all CA courts handled failure to appear cases the same way! I also wish all CA Court clerks had law degrees so they could understand what I was talking about! What a dream.

      Anyway, here is my advice – you can send me to try to get something done for $600, otherwise, it you are out of state and cannot go to the court yourself, you just have to pay.

      If you were here, and could not hire an attorney, I would recommend that you go to the courthouse tomorrow at 8 am and ask for a walk in court appearance. Then ask the judge to release the 40509.5 hold and grant traffic school.

      I wish you luck.

  22. Del says:

    I have a problem with a 40508a in the city of los angeles. Metro- Hill street courthouse.

    I got a “seat belt ticket” and i did not take care of it in time so i a 40509.5 also. Both of the citations cost me $500 together. I could not make the entire payement and they sent it to collections and they added on $300.

    It then became $800 and I was paying $50 a month when I again could not continue to pay the court. 4-5 months later it has now turned into a 40508a.

    The balance on the original charges is $650 which I will gladly pay. I was wondering whether they will let me pay it and go home or will I have to see a judge again or pay more money? I need a reponse ASAP because I want to go to court Monday. PLEASE HELP!

    • Del, RE: I was wondering whether they will let me pay it and go home or will I have to see a judge again or pay more money?

      I cannot tell you what is going to happen based on the info you provided. I can tell you a Veh. Code section 40508(a) is a misdemeanor crime. But sometimes the court will treat it as an infraction if you agree to just pay in full.

      If you have already made a payment on the fine, your case is probably over. When you pay, you admit guilt and the case ends – except the part where you have to satisfy your punishment (pay the fine). The only question is when are you going to pay? In these cases, which are more like failure to pay cases, rather than failure to appear at a court date, the court may not allow you to have a court date. You just have to pay and that is the only option if your case is already over.

  23. del says:

    I have a problem with a seat belt ticket that has turned into a nightmare of a 40508A.

    I originally had 1) a seat belt ticket, which turned into a 40509.5. I got a fine of 500 dollers which I could not afford. They sent to GC services(collections) and added a further 300 to a grand total of $800. I was making payments for it when I went to get insurance and noticed I had a 40508A. This ticket is in the LA metro courthouse on hill street. Please, please help with advice

    I live in long beach and work in newport beach so the Bus is near an impossible option. I do have the $650 needed to pay it off.

    • Del, I would recommend going to the courthouse at 7:30 am and asking for a walk in court appearance or to set a court date and get the VC40509.5 hold released. Los Angeles is one of those courts that follows the law and presumes you are innocent until proven guilty. If you have only missed 1 date, you usually can get a court date to present evidence that you are not guilty. Make sure you ask the court clerk to release the hold. Once the hold is released, go to DMV in person to get your license reinstated. Once in court n front of the judge, Make an arguement that some or all of your fines should be suspended “in the Interests of Justice, Penal Code section 1385″. If you really want to do it right, use my Penal Code section 1385 Motion Form ($20)

      You might be able to get your drivers license back in one day.

      Our local Sponsor Attorney Mark Gallagher (attorneygallagher [at] gmail.com) is really good at resolving these cases fast, and goes to the courthouse often. Contact him for a Quote on clearing an LA Metro Courthouse VC40509.5 hold ASAP (just copy that text and insert into subject line and he is sure to respond – he might be in the courthouse when you send the email. But he does not work for free. Going to LA Metro Courthouse is not a fun experience. Even for a fast moving attorney.

      Dont try to do any of it by telephone, go to court in person. Do not write letters to the Commissioner, do not assume that it will just go away some day. Do not drive at all until you visit DMV in person and verify that your drivers license is valid. If you do schedule a court date, do not miss it. When going to LA Metro, expect long, frustrating lines. get there early, or at 1:00 pm. There are 2 sets of court clerk windows at LA metro on the first floor. Pay close attention to which is which – they are different. Courtrooms are up stairs, and the elevator is plain scary. Do not look out the windows and tell yourself the view is beautiful – you have to be realistic when you are in court, and that view is not beautiful. Most cell phones do not work in that building (it was designed a nuclear fallout shelter in the 50s (so ive heard), so cell phone signals have a tough time getting in. Do not eat at the MacDonalds across the street (this is my personal opinion only). Expect to spend 3 hours there. If you go in a car that gets parked underground at the courthouse, pay close attention to where you parked (I’ve been lost there many times), and when its all over, schedule a therapy appointment, because you are going to be a little crazed.

      In the future the right way to handle a traffic citation for which you cannot pay the fine is to go to the court in advance and make a court appearance to ask the judge in person for more time. Dont just ignore the citation date because you cannot pay.

      If you cannot get to the courthouse – the only other option is to pay in full.

  24. If you pleaded guilty for an FTA charge [plus another ticket for driving without insunrance, registration... might add up to about $1,000.00], and do not have money to pay for it:

    - How many days will you be sentenced to jail, if you agreed to go to jail instead of paying?

    - How many working hours of community services?

    And will you be able to get the charges cleared so you can move on [get your DL back & buy insurance]?

    Will the reason of being jobless and homeless help your sentencing?


    • Dear D. If you have been sentenced to pay a fine and cannot pay it, the only correct thing to do is to go back to the court, and for an appearance and ask the judge for more time. If you think that going to jail for a few days is a good alternative to paying the fine on time – you are not making good decisions. Most courts will not allow you to do community service instead of paying a fine, because it costs them money to allow community service. They do not want you to cost them money, they want your money. Most courts will suspend a drivers license for a failure to pay the fine until it is paid in full, and will double or triple the claimed amount due by sending it to a private collection agency and allowing the collection agency to make up extra fees (illegally in my opinion).

  25. Matt says:

    Today I went to get my permit and I found out I have a 40508A. The violation date was 5/03/06, and there are 2 reasons I did not appear: 1) I did not know about it (I know this isn’t a valid defense and 2) I was out of state, placed in a residential treatment center by my parents and school. I am 18 years old now, and I was 14 at the time. Is being forced out of state, and then being forced to stay there, a valid defense? What should I do to clear this all up?

    • Matt,

      I cannot tell what court this is in, but you maybe able to just pay the fine and end the problem completely. Contact the court clerk at the courthouse were the case is pending to see what the “Bail” is, and whether or not you can schedule a court date. A court date might be a waste of time if the bail is below $500.

  26. Robert Kline says:

    I had a fix it ticket for my old truck, I ended up trading it in through a dealership. 3 weeks later was my court date, and the officer who issued me the ticket, told me not to worry about the fix it if I trade it in. Usualy the dealership and DMV get things done. Dumb of me to believe that, I recieved the FTA and vc40508a on this letter in the mail. Im bringing my papers from financing with me but I don’t know what I am in for.

  27. Shanna Christensn says:

    I was wondering how to handle this situation. My husband got a ticket for driving without a liscense on 1/02/10 his court date was set for 3/6/10 which was a Saturday s he didnt go because of course court is not open on Saturday. I looked at the county website yesterday and discovered they gave him a FTA. The website also says that his ticket was issued on 2/2/10 not 1/2/10 and that his court date was on 3/16/10 and not 3/6/10. I was wondering how many days after you get a citation does the county (san Bernardino County) have to file it and how do we fix the courts errors and clear my husband of his FTA?

  28. xris says:

    Please don’t play the racism card. It does nothing for your case or anyone elses and in fact will make the situation worse. There is no racism here just a lack of understanding on your part.

    1. You don’t call a judge “hey”. That will piss them off.

    2. You need to learn how to spell as I assume if you think plea is the same thing as please when your writing this then you have big problems.

    3. Your not accepting responsibility for you getting the ticket and further pissing the judge off.

    4. Again- NO RACISM here just your lack of research. In court you please a)guilty b)not guilty c)no conest. You can not plea not guilty and then not have the money. Simple as that. If you plea not guilty you need the money up front

    5. Biggest piece of useful information I have typed here is below and if you take anything from this let this be it:

    Judges are rare breeds of human. They are very head strong and do not EVER like to be proven wrong, disrespected or question. You dont EVER start speaking to a judge by showing they are wrong and you are right.

    ***NOTE: as I just remembered, you showed the judge papers that prove your innocents during a guilty-not guilty day? If this is correct, Im sorry but I (as a very frequent traffic court goer) get so fucking annoyed by people like you who simply do not understand the judge or balif when they say at the begining of court that this is not the day you present evidence its the day you plea and thats it yet despite that you “type” of people do IT ANYWAYS!!! WTF is wrong with you?!?! that is why traffic court takes so long- BECAUSE OF YOU

    now that im done with my rant… I strongly believe that was why you got the response from the judge you did because you didnt follow directions.

    • Xris – I think you spent too much time in court and you blew a fuse. It’s OK – happens to the best of us. You’re right though. People just don’t listen and the judges se it so much that it drives them crazy. Imagine the same same idiot saying the same crap day after day case after case. The traffic court judges don’t see people in front of them, they see black shapes and simple math problems. 0s and 1s, on off, yes, no – spit out the total fine, next!. Since we’re on the subject – what really drives me crazy in traffic courts – after hundreds of appearances in dozens of counties is: 1) clerks telling me something that I know is not true; 2) handwritten paper work from the court clerk that does not show the total fine due; 3) the downey courthouse smell; 4) when judges start court at 9:15a.m.; 5) courts that do not have on line access to criminal case info; 6) people saying things in court that are completely irrelevant to the issue (like: “I was homeless”); 7) people who think they cant go to jail because they have to work; 8) the filthiness of the San Bernardino hall of justice; 9) collection agency employees who pretend to be court employees; 10) judges who take more than 30 seconds between cases; 11) people telling their defense to the court clerk through the bulletproof glass like it will work for them; 12) the headache I get after every court appearance; 13) court employees who dont understand Attorneys are sworn officers of the court; 14) that fuckhead Sheriff’s Deputy at the Vista Courthouse who once told me “The graveyard is the only ‘right place’ for Attorneys”; 15) courthouses with time limited parking, etc.

  29. Pardeep says:

    Dear Christopher,

    I had an arraignment on June 15th, couldn’t make it that day. The clerk told me latest I could come is 7 days later on the 22nd.

    So I came on 22nd, please not guilty and asked for a trial by written declaration. The judge granted it and asked if I can pay bail. I said I don’t have the $201 bail today, may I have a 1 week extension to pay it. She replied no, just come back when you are ready. So I said I’ll be back in a week.

    A few days later I got a letter saying I had failed to appear. I went back to the court the next day, they said my appearance on the 22nd resulted in a no action status, which is a FTA with a $648 civil assessment and penalties. So they setup another arraignment for me for Aug 24th.

    Again I couldn’t go to court on the Aug 24th, but went the following week on the 31st within the grace period.

    The judge asked if I had the bail, I said not all of it, can you remove the FTA since I was just following your instructions. I asked you for an extension, you denied it and said return when you’re ready, but you didn’t inform me this would result in an FTA. I told her I have paperwork to prove I didn’t fail to appear, that I was present on June 22nd, with her notes on my appearance and status that day. Well the judge got angry and said she didn’t want to argue with me and didn’t want to talk to me anymore.

    So I discovered she again had me in a no action status. So I waited until the end of the arraignment, but she wouldn’t talk to me.

    So I had to come back and register for the hearing in the afternoon. In the afternoon the judge made sure I was the very last person she spoke to. But when my turn came, she said I’ve already seen him twice and started to walk out of the court. So I said in a loud and clear voice “Hey, I am here to please not guilty and post bail.” And she said “Oh, why didn’t you say so?” and I replied because you were prejudiced and didn’t let me get a word in edgeways. She said ok, ok, and didn’t want to hear any more. I asked her to remove the FTA, and she refused, saying this can be handled on the trial date.

    So I have a trial date now on Oct 15th, paperwork to prove I did appear on June 22nd. My questions for you are:

    1. Will I be able to get the FTA removed.
    2. If it can be dismissed, will they refund the civil assessment and penalty of $648
    3. Is it possible this could be a misdemeanor on my record.
    4. Will DMV prevent renewal of my license while this is pending?
    5. If I am unable to get this dismissed by the same lady who got me in this pickle, can I appeal it before other judges.
    6. The woman who refused the extension is a commissioner, not a judge. Can I request a judge, thereby removing her from my case since she seems prejudiced.

    I already filed a 170.6 peremptory challenge on my arraignment last week, but the commissioner declined stating it is untimely.

    This pertains to the Beverly Hills Courthouse, there seems to be a class racism there, I’ve never seen such a malevolent execution of justice before. Thank you for your feedback on this matter.


  30. Kevin says:

    Thank you so much for your Help!
    I tried looking on the DMV website, but I found it to be too dificult and complex. Your website has opened my eyes.
    thank you…

    P.S: I better get my Butt to court ASAP!

  31. Daniel says:

    Homelessness A Defense to Failure to Appear?

    I have a question about me missing my appearance. I know you said being homeless is not a defense for 40508A Violations, but what if it can be proven with documentation from non-profits and another county’s social services that I was homeless and had no way of returning for an appearance?
    In my case, I became homeless, got out of the LA area via a friend who bought me a bus ticket to Monterey County, and I was placed in a non-profit homeless transitional program (named McHOME–McHOME is an off-shoot of Interim, Inc, the parent non-profit). They can verify I was living off of $138 a month after rent and $138 a month in food stamps for about a year. The Mental Health Dept. of Monterey County can also verify this status.

    Also, I filed an extension on 04/23/2006, which was approved online with the LA County Court website, because I was x# of days short of the minimum required to file a Trial by Written Declaration. Also, I made sure to inform the Court Clerk of my new mailing address at MCHOME in Marina CA. I waited to receive the packet from the Court Clerk with the Trial by Written Decleration Form and instructions, but I never received it. Since I didn’t have the money to pay the fines, I didn’t push too much on the follow-up. Expected, a 40508A was issued on 10/30/2006.
    I moved to San Francisco about 14 months ago because I found a job through a connection of a friend and was able to get out on my own fairly quickly, Now I make enough money to take care of the penalties/fees/etc., but not enough to physically make an appearance at the Long Beach Courthouse. I can also only afford to make monthly payments to pay off my obligation.
    I recently called (more than once) and talked to the Court Clerk’s office to see if there is someway to handle this from San Francisco, but they say that I have to come down and appear because that’s what the file says in the court’s computer system. Am i just screwed on this or is there a way to get this legally handled with my limited, but better than when I was homeless, finances?

    Instant Complete Warrant Search

    Answer: Well, I did not make the rules. But, generally, being broke or homeless is not a defense to missing a court date. Lots of broke people go to court everyday in California. And the fact that you have proof that someone helped you move out of town is not a defense either.

    On the other hand – maybe you were kidnapped, and left town involuntarily? It is possible to be kidnapped without knowing it.

    But the problem it that in order to challenge your fine or case, you have to get there or hire an Attorney to go for you. There is no way to challenge a criminal case without going to court. – Attorney Christopher Dort.

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