Defending a Traffic Infraction Citation in the State of California - What Steps are Involved, and What Really Happens in a Court of Law...


When you are issued a traffic citation for a California vehicle code violation (an Infraction or Misdemeanor charge), you promise to appear by a specific date and time handwritten or typewritten in by the law enforcement officer, which will appear toward the very bottom of your ticket - underneath your signature.  Your are not admitting guilt, but you are promising to appear by that date and time, at the specified courthouse location.

The officer will then make arrangements to file his/her copy of the citation with the Superior Court clerk's office, where your citation has been assigned (i.e. Barstow, Fontana, San Bernardino, etc.).

You should receive a copy of a Courtesy Notice from the clerk's office within a six (6) to eight (8) week period from the date your citation was issued to you.  However, it is very important to note...while the clerk's office makes every effort to send you these notices, sometimes, they do not always arrive in a timely manner - or do not arrive at all!  The "appear by date" on the bottom of your traffic citation is the date that you should rely upon.  Do not wait to receive a notice from the clerk's office.  If neither you nor an attorney appear in court by the "appear by date", you may be facing additional penalties such as a $300 civil assessment, and a possible hold on your driver's license and registration.

IMPORTANT:  If you are going to contest your traffic citation, do not send any bail or fine monies into the Court while your case is still being processed.  If you do, the Court will consider it the same as a plea of Guilty, and enter a conviction against you - even if you already have an attorney of record.  Any official notices you receive from the Court should be shared with your attorney of record - but not acted upon by the traffic defendant!

If you decide to contest or fight your traffic citation, you or an attorney you hire, will need to enter a plea of Not Guilty in the court record at an Arraignment proceeding.  This will also give you (or your attorney) an opportunity to obtain any discovery (court documents, evidence, etc.) that pertain to your case.

Your matter will then be calendared for a Court Trial proceeding - which usually takes place thirty (30) to forty-five (45) days after the Arraignment proceeding.  The citing officer(s) will be sent a Subpoena from the court clerk's office which will compel him/her to attend the Court Trial proceeding.  It is important to realize that the law enforcement agency has the Burden of Proof - it must appear at the Court Trial proceeding and prove it's case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Assuming the citing officer appears at the Court Trial proceeding, he/she will be put under oath and asked to take the witness stand.  A good Defense Attorney will be prepared to cross-examine the citing officer with a series of materially relevant questions, in order to produce testimony which raises as much reasonable doubt as possible.  If the officer is not able to prove his/her case beyond a reasonable doubt, then a motion would be made for the charges pending against you to be dismissed.  If there are no constitutional or evidentiary grounds to justify the dismissal of your charges, then your case may be negotiated (plea bargained) by your attorney to obtain a lesser charge, with the objective of avoiding negligent operator points, and the stigma of a moving violation.

Once the Court (the judge) has ruled on your particular case, our office will prepare and send you a final disposition packet, which will include a copy of an official Case Report, reflecting the results in your matter.  IF there are any fine monies still owed to the Court, then instructions would be provided to you as to how to resolve those.  The Court will typically give you up to sixty (60) days to satisfy the monetary judgment - monthly installments are also available for a modest fee.

We will monitor the entire Court record to be certain it is both accurate and complete.


My office may be able to obtain favorable results for you! I have been in practice for over 35 years, and have a very high success rate ! Please contact our office today for a FREE case evaluation at (760) 326-LAWS (5297) or (702) 817-4661 - Call Anytime !

Felicia Woods-Yates, 
Attorney at Law

You may also submit your new case information online for a Free Consultation & Case Evaluation, and we will contact you within 24 hours!



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The information presented on this website should not be construed as legal advice as it is presented as information only. Nor does viewing the information contained on this website form an attorney-client relationship. There is no substitute for consulting with an attorney regarding the specific facts of a legal matter. Please note that substantive law and procedure discussed on this website may have changed as a result of legislation, judicial interpretations or changes in administrative policies or procedures.

Note: This website is not intended to offer services to clients for any matter outside the jurisdiction of the State of California.​