Advantages of a trial by written declaration vs. in person trial

Feb 16, 18

Advantages of a trial by written declaration vs. in person trial

Mind over Matter

Even the best drivers in California can accidentally find themselves on the wrong side of the law. A small lapse in concentration or judgment may lead to a small infraction, with big consequences. A trial by written declaration could be the best solution in these cases. There are some clear advantages of a trial by written declaration vs. in person trial with an attorney. The following guide discusses some of those key benefits. 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 driver should never feel defeated when it comes to contesting a citation. Knowing your rights given as a driver provides a roadmap on how to resolve a traffic ticket quickly and effectily. If a driver receives an infraction violation, a written not guilty plea by mail under CVC 40519 (b) is available.

Supreme Advantages of a trial by written declaration

Several advantages are available when 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 successful 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 with a well composed defense.
  • It is true that people look for ways to spend less money. When a driver appears in court for trial, typically it is missed time from work which 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 always full, our goal is to move things along expeditiously. People are impatient and irritated about having received a violation in the first place. Realistically, a driver may not be able to present a complete case in front of judge. The advantage of a trial by written declaration is 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 in their personal vehicle, may attend traffic school if approved by the court. Speeding violations 25 mph over the limit are not eligible for traffic school unless approval given by the court.

A written statement removes the need to appear in person before the court.

Most defendants will take this approach where possible, purely because of the stress and strain of court appearances. It is much easier to have a legal expert help contest the charges with a legitimate written statement, than to appear in person. Some of these traffic violations, while illegal, are fairly trivial compared to other crimes. There may be the chance of fines, but no risk of jail time. This is something that a professional organization can handle themselves with the right statement and evidence. Those that commit minor violations don’t need the added stress of court appearances, time off work or other complications.

A successful trial by written declaration will eliminate any financial damages.

There are no fees charged by the Court when your violation is dismissed using a trial by written declaration. No points, no fines and no traffic school is needed when the deceleration is successful.

Success rate higher with written declarations vs in court appearances.

Results from trials by written declaration show that the success rate can be raised by over 50% by using this method. This is a great benefit to all those at risk of serious repercussions. Conviction doesn’t just mean the risk of financial loss via fines. Some could lose their job if their license is revoked. An added benefit to this approach is that defendants can request a retrial if they fail, this time with a new judge. Again, this raises the chance of success and is not available with an in-person appearance.

Rules of evidence in California favor those that opt for these written declaration.

This is largely down to the fact that attorneys cannot enter testimony or evidence in court without the presence of the defendant. This is a major issue in typical cases, and can slow up court proceedings. However, a trial by written declaration does permit the use of exhibits presented by the defendant with their statement. This means that there is a chance that the judge will see all the evidence of tickets, reports and car inspections, but nothing from the prosecution. The list of potential forms of evidence is long – from photographs to receipts. Defendants are encouraged to take advantage of submitting evidence.

Common Misconceptions

Common misconception that people have about this process is that it is a easy, quick, straightforward method. Some believe they can write a quick statement, give it to the judge and leave everything in their hands. Defendants have to make more of an effort than that, as there are official channels and measures. They have to ask for a Request for Trial by Written Declaration form from the court house and fill in the right paperwork. A strong case also requires the right evidence and strategies. This means copies of the tickets, a signed statement by the defendant and possibly signed statements by witnesses. Those that add in repair receipts, photographs, medical records and inspection certificates could increase their chances.

However, there are times when this written declaration is not an option.

Anyone dealing with a Californian traffic violation should take the time to understand the rules and limitations. The Judicial Branch of California is clear on who can and cannot use these statements in court. This system is designed to aid those dealing with infraction violations. This means those lower level cases where it is in everyone’s best interests to make this as simple as possible. Yet, there are caveats here. For example, any offense related to alcohol or drug use is not contestable via a written statement. There will also be cases where tickets specifically state that defendants must appear in court in person. Finally, any ticket where the due date has expired is no longer eligible for written declaration.

Major advantages of a trial by written declaration vs. in person trial with an attorney are simple:

Pros:

  • Less stress for the defendant
  • More effective and efficient process
  • Higher success rate

Therefore, anyone with a minor California traffic infraction violation should heavily consider this approach. It could prove to be the best solution with the best possible outcome.

While attorneys are paid to appear in court for a driver regardless of the outcome, 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 present the case through trial by written declaration.