What to Bring With You to a Traffic Court Appearance

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Going to court tomorrow on a traffic ticket? Do you have to bring your witnesses? Maps? Insurance card? Should you wear your nicest wig?

To figure out what you need to bring to court with you, you first must figure out what you are going to court for.

What to Bring and Not to Bring to the Arraignment.

You do not need to bring evidence to an Arraignment on a Traffic Ticket. The Arraignment is usually the first court appearance on a criminal or traffic citation case. Arraignments are not trials, and it is only at the trial date that the court will hear evidence on the charges.

The trial date is usually set at the Arraignment and it comes later. Arraignments are usually very quick, short court appearances with a specific purpose. The court notifies the defendant of the charges, their rights, and then the court will enter a plea of “Not Guilty” or “Guilty” (same as no contest). If a Defendant enters a plea of “Not Guilty” at the Arraignment, the court will choose a date for trial and schedule it.

You dont need to bring evidence for your defense to the Arraignment. The court will not hear witnesses at the Arraignment. Because Arraignments are not trials, the court will not examine any evidence at the Arraignment. Because of this, a defendant does not need to bring in witnesses to the incident, photos of the street signs, nor do they have to look good for testifying because there will be no testimony taken during an Arraignment.

However, if you have correctable violations, and you have proof of correction, you should bring that to the Arraignment with you. Such is the case with Proof of Current Registration. If you have an expired registration tags violation, and you have corrected it prior to the Arraignment – bring it with you and ask for dismissal.

You may be able to avoid a second court appearance. This is because on correctable violations, it is sometimes possible to resolve the case by showing the proof of correction at that time and asking for dismissal prior to a trial.

You can also submit proof of correction at a trial date if you need to.

What to Bring to the Trial.

If you are going to court for a trial date on a traffic ticket, you must be ready to (legally) defend yourself against the alleged violations with whatever evidence there is. It is at the Trial that the judge will take evidence, and make a decision.

If photos of the scene are relevant, the trial is the time to bring them with you. If there are witnesses that you want to testify, such as passengers in the car, bring them with you to the trial. Video recording of the incident? Bring it with you to trial and tell the court that you have video evidence to show. If your cell phone records are relevant, bring them with you to the trial. If you need to show the judge your car to explain why it is impossible you were doing 95mph, bring it to court.

The court probably will not give you time after a trial date to present evidence you did not bring with you to court, so you must bring all evidence with you for the trial. What types of evidence can you bring? Photos, documents, witnesses, physical evidence such as a broken piece of glass, ladder you found in the road, etc. But leave your psychic at home. Psychic evidence is not admissible.

Things That Should Be Left At Home Because They Will Not Help You In Court.

1. Statements about the law you found on the internet.

Judges, Attorneys, and Courts must use the law as it is written in official published sources, such as California Codes and California Supreme Court Opinions. Summaries of the law, or descriptions of the law on news web sites, police web sites, or even DMV web sites are not official statements of the law. And they are often out of date, plain wrong, or misinterpreted. Because of this, info on the law that a defendant brings into court is not admissible evidence, and the judge will not consider it.

If you want the judge to consider a specific law, you need to refer to the specific code section you are talking about and let the judge look it up in an official source if needed. For example, it is correct to say: “According to Vehicle Code 14601.1, a lack of actual knowledge of a suspension is a complete defense”. But it is not permissible to offer: “Your honor, I looked this up and according to safehighwaydrivingrules.bomb, using a cell phone as a GPS is legal. Here it is, I printed it for you.”

2. Jewelry, Belts with Metal, Metal Head Wear, etc.

Metal Items slow people down when entering the courthouse because everyone must be screened for weapons. There is nothing more annoying to people in a court security line waiting in the rain than a person who has to go through the metal detect 4x because they keep forgetting about that piece of metal stuck through their . . .

Notes on Bringing Children to Court.

Many courts have an on site short term day care for people who must attend court with their children. Check the court’s web site in advance, and/or call the court in advance to get details. Here is an example of the Sacramento Court’s Web Site info on Day Care.

Always Bring Money to Court with You If You Can.

In many, many courts there is no free parking. You must bring money to just be there, you must spend money before you even enter. Such is the case in most Los Angeles County Superior Courthouses, where parking can be ask much as $14 cash only. Other courts accept cash, credit or debit cards through a machine as in Sacramento County Superior Courts.

Courts that provide free parking? Yes there are a few. You can probably guess where they are. Monterey County is one. Plumas County is another. Alpine County. Placer County, etc. There is free parking at the Compton Courthouse, but we do not recommend it.

And if you are lucky enough to get the court to accept proof of correction at the Arraignment, you will probably be required to pay a “dismissal” fee to end the case completely, and you will probably want to pay that fee on the spot if possible.

Questions / comments? Leave a Reply below.

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