Trial by Written Declaration Vs. In-Person Trial

Feb 16, 18

Trial by Written Declaration Vs. In-Person Trial

Mind over Matter

Nobody goes through his or her day expecting to receive a traffic violation. However, a traffic violation can place an increased level of stress on any persons day. Bigger problems occur if a person decides not to address the ticket in a timely manner.

The thought of appearing in court can be intimidating. Being unfamiliar with legal terms or the process in a court proceeding can be scary. Even though there is discomfort in receiving a traffic violation, it is reassuring to know what options are available to you for contesting any traffic violation.

Know your rights under the law

A licensed driver should never feel defeated when it comes to contesting a citation. Knowing the rights given as a driver educates and provides a more informative approach how to resolve an otherwise hassle of events. If a driver receives an infraction violation, a written not guilty plea by mail under CVC 40519 (b) is available.

In the written not guilty plea, a driver can request a trial by written declaration pursuant to CVC 40902. What this provides is the ability to contest a citation without appearing in court and increases chances of winning, had a driver appeared in court or hired an attorney to do so. In particular, a judge reviews all the evidence and makes his or her decision based on the information submitted. Once a judge has made his or her verdict, the courts will mail the decision back to the motorist.

Supreme Advantages of a trial by written declaration

Many advantages are available with opting for a trial by written declaration. Below discussed in detailed these advantages for trial by written declaration:

  • The #1 reason why everyone should use a trial by written declaration is it is the most powerful way to dismiss a traffic ticket. Unlike a in-person trial with an attorney unless you show up to Court with the attorney your representative will not be able to make specific legal arguments based off of facts or testimony. The rules of evidence do not allow an attorney to enter testimony or any pieces of evidence without the presence of the defendant. Unless you want to show up to Court, participate in the trial and take your chances of a success verdict this is not the best option to challenge a ticket.
  • With a trial by written declaration all evidence and testimony can be entered in a written form without any personal attendance by the defendant which drastically increases your chance of success. You will also save a substantial amount of money in legal fees as no Court appearances are necessary.
  • The obvious advantage is a $300 incentive for the officer to appear in a court trial but an officer does not receive any incentive for completing declaration paperwork. This lack of enthusiasm to complete declaration paperwork works in a driver’s favor. If the officer does not complete necessary declaration paperwork in time, the case is dismissed, and bail monies returned. Furthermore, an officer will have a harder time recalling the facts of the incident, when a driver is not present in court. Lastly, not appearing in court takes the factor of intimidation off the table. By simply submitting a written declaration, a driver has a higher chance of receiving a dismissal regardless of the argument presented.
  • It is true that we look for ways to spend less money and find things that are at our convenience. When a driver appears in court for trial, typically it is missed time from work that takes away from a person’s overall total earnings. Electing a trial by written declaration reduces the cost for a driver as opposed to retaining an attorney to represent them in court.
  • Traffic courts are a revolving door. The court docket is full and ideally, the goal is to move things along expeditiously. People are impatient and irritated about having received a violation in the first place. Each individual that is there in trial to fight a case is front and center stage. Realistically, a driver may not be able to present a complete case in front of judge. On the other hand, the advantage of a trial by written declaration, a judge is able to review privately the arguments of the case without the influences of the court. In a court trial, the judge has the pressure of making examples, so it is very difficult for a judge to hand out fine suspensions or reduce fines with other defendants expecting the same breaks.
  • Another benefit of trial by written declaration provides an advantage if a driver happens to lose their case. A driver may set up a new trial through Trial De Novo that provides an opportunity to start over and present a new case to fight the ticket. Many factors play a part in the opportunity. First, there is a possibility of a fresh set of eyes from a new judge reviewing the case. Second, if the officer does not show up a driver automatically wins. Third, additional time is added before the case is heard; increasing the length of time the officer has to recall facts from the incident. A trial by written declaration is the only option that allows a driver the chance of a new case, simply if they do not agree with the outcome of his or her first trial.
  • Finally, granted that a driver has not attended a traffic school within the last 18 months, a driver is eligible and has the right to attend traffic school. Traffic school is not an option for commercial drivers who receive a violation in their commercial vehicles. A driver with a CDL license, who receives a violation, may attend traffic school. Speeding violations 25 mph over the limit are not eligible for traffic school unless a written declaration is submitted, and approval given by the court.

While attorney’s are paid to appear in court for a driver, the advantages of trial by written declaration as stated above far outweighs the money spent, convenience offered, and time to appear in person. It is easier and more cost efficient to take necessary time to present the case through trial by written declaration.