Going to Court / Fines
NOTE: If your ticket is for an infraction violation of the Vehicle Code, go to the Self-Help Section and Traffic Section of this website. If you have committed a misdemeanor or felony offense, go to the Criminal Section
Can I See the Judge About My Ticket?
Yes. The first step will be a court appearance for your arraignment. The police officer who issued the citation will not be present for the arraignment. At the arraignment the judge will:
- Tell you what the charges (violations) are
- Tell you about your rights (ENGLISH ) (SPANISH ) (VIETNAMESE )
- Ask you if you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest
You must reserve a date in order to see a judge. You can do this online, in person, or by phone on or before your due date. Your due date is at the bottom of the ticket.
Can I Go to Any Court?
You can go to any of the court locations. if you wish to pay your ticket, request traffic school, request an extension or for assistance with other traffic related services. These services are also available online or by phone.
If you want to see a judge, refer to the section above Can I See the Judge About My Ticket?
What if I Want to Contest My Ticket and Have a Trial?
There are several ways to contest your ticket and request a trial:
You can appear before a judge, however, you must reserve a date to see the judge.
You can write a letter to the court and plead not guilty. You must include the bail amount on your courtesy Violation Information Notice and send the letter by certified or registered mail at least five days prior to the due date on your ticket or Notice. Mail the letter to:
P.O Box 6040
Newport Beach, CA 92658-6040
You can have a trial by written declaration in which no court appearance is required; instead you provide the court with a written statement and post bail for amount on your courtesy Violation Information Notice. Forms are available if you choose this option.
Note: If you are not able to submit the full bail amount as required by the California Vehicle Code, you must reserve a date to see the judge to enter your plea of not guilty and discuss bail with the judicial officer.
What Should I Do to Get Ready for My Trial?
If your ticket is for an infraction, a judge will hear your case instead of a jury. At your trial, the olice officer will state why he or she gave you the ticket. You may hire an attorney or represent yourself. You or your lawyer can:
- Present evidence,
- Argue the law,
- Bring witnesses, and
- Question (cross-examine) the officer who gave you the ticket.
When your case is called, you and any witnesses you have should step forward to the counsel table. The officer will testify first. After the testimony, the judge will ask you if you want to cross-examine the officer. This means you can ask the officer questions about matters brought up in his or her testimony and other related matters concerning the case. It does not mean introducing your own testimony at that time.
You have the right to remain silent and not to testify in your own case. After hearing the officer’s testimony, you may want to waive the right to remain silent by testifying to your version of the facts and your defense. If you choose to testify, you give up the right to remain silent and you may be asked questions (called cross-examination) on matters that you have brought up in your testimony. You may also call witnesses on your own behalf and present evidence such as photographs, charts, or other written materials. Come to your trial prepared. You should:
- Understand the charges (violation) against you. You can read charges in the California Statutes.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask your witnesses and the officer during cross-examination.
- Bring the evidence you want to give to the judge.
- Read Advisement of Rights (ENGLISH ) (SPANISH ) (VIETNAMESE ).
To subpoena witnesses and documents refer to the section below "How Do I Subpoena Witnesses or Documents?"
How Do I Subpoena Documents Or Witnesses?
Sometimes you need a witness to give the court information. If you think this information is a big part of your case or defense, try to get the witness to go to the trial. If the witness is not willing to come to court you can subpoena the witness. Fill out an Order To Attend Court Or Provide Documents (CR-125). If you want the witness to bring papers to the hearing, you can also subpoena documents. In addition to the Order, fill out an Affidavit For Subpoena Duces Tecum (L-1031).
The subpoena form allows you to:
- Require the appearance of a witness
- Require the appearance of a witness and bring specified documents
- Permit the witness to send the specified documents to court without appearing
Talk to your witness before the trial. They may not see things the same way you do. Or, they may have forgotten the important points. If the witness is hostile to you, they can do more harm than good.
Forms and instructions for serving the Order and Affidavit on the witness can be found in Packet - Criminal Subpoena (L-1046) on the local forms page.
If it is not possible for the witness to appear, even when ordered by a subpoena, ask the witness to write and sign a Declaration (MC-030). The declaration should say everything the witness wants to tell the judge about your case and is written under penalty of perjury. The judge does not have to accept a written statement.
How Should I Dress When I Go to Court?
Dress in business attire. Shirt and shoes are required. Some courts do not allowed T-shirts. Casual attire such as wearing tank tops or shorts is inappropriate and the judge could decide not to hear your case if dressed inappropriately.
OTHER COURTROOM RULES:
- No food, drink, or gum chewing.
- No weapons.
- Turn off pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.
- Address the judge as "Your Honor."
- Maintain a professional demeanor and attitude.
- Be on time for your hearing.
- Do not enter the area between the counsel table and judge’s bench without permission.
- If you are under the age of 18, you must bring a parent or legal guardian with you.
What if My Ticket Requires a Mandatory Appearance?
Some types of violations, such as misdemeanors or those that have mandatory sentencing requirements, require your appearance in court. If so, your courtesy Violation Information Notice will say "mandatory appearance." If your ticket requires a mandatory appearance, you must go to court on or before the due date on your ticket. You must reserve a date to see the judge. See above section Can I See the Judge About My Ticket?
How Do I Request A Disability Accommodation?
It is the policy of the court to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal and full access to the judicial system. To request an accommodation, complete the Request for Accommodations By Persons With Disabilities (MC-410) . You should file this form with the court as far in advance as possible, but at least 5 days before the date that you need the accommodation.
What If I Do Not Speak English Well?
The court provides interpreters upon request. When you ask for a court date let the clerk know that you need an interpreter in the language you speak so that an interpreter can be ordered for your court date. To reserve a court date, see above section Can I See the Judge About My Ticket? On your court date, let the bailiff in the courtroom know that you require an interpreter so that an interpreter can be sent to your courtroom.
Can I Bring Children To Court?
Children may be brought to the court and may stay in "Children’s Chambers" while their caregivers are conducting business with the court. Children’s Chambers is a safe drop-in center for children that lets children be children instead of spending long sessions listening to adult interactions that could be painful or frightening.
You can read more about which courts offer a Children’s Chambers and the guidelines.
What If I Need to Postpone my Court Date or Trial Date?
If you need to postpone (a continuance or an extension) your arraignment (the date at the bottom of your ticket or on your courtesy Violation Information Notice), you may do so by phone, online, or in person at any of the court locations in the Traffic Division.
Because you have the right to a speedy trial, if you need to postpone your trial date, you must appear before the judge before your scheduled trial date at the location where your trial is scheduled.
To reserve a date:
- 24 hours/day, 7 days/week at this link
- In person, 8:00am - 4:00pm, Monday – Friday at one of the court locations
You must have the following information:
- Citation number or OC Pay number listed on your courtesy Violation Information Notice AND one of the following:
- Driver’s License Number OR Date of Birth
NOTE: Even though your offense is not Traffic related, it is handled by the Traffic Division.
What If I Miss My Court Date or Trial Date?
If you miss your court date, you should contact the court as quickly as possible to find out the status of your case by calling (657) 622-8459. : Customer service agents available Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The court can order a warrant for your arrest, you can be charged with a misdemeanor violation and a monetary assessment can be added. If the court is holding your bail money in trust, that money can be used to pay your fines or forfeited to the court.
I Won My Case. Will My Bail Be Refunded?
Yes. Your bail refund will be mailed to the depositor (the person who deposited the money with the court) within 6 to 8 weeks after the disposition of the case (trial or dismissal of case).
If your or the depositor’s address has changed, tell the judge or clerk. You can also send a letter to the court telling them about your change of address. Send the letter to:
P.O Box 6040
Newport Beach, CA 92658-6040
I Lost My Case at Trial. Can I File an Appeal?
View the Traffic Appeals page for more information.
Can I Make Payments on a Fine?
Yes, but you must ask the judge for payments immediately upon being ordered to pay a fine or you can request payments from the Court Collections Office by the due date that you were given to pay.
To request payments:
- Visit a Court Collections Office at one of the court locations.
Once you have established a payment plan, you can opt for the ease and convenience of having your payments automatically charged to your credit card.